On the 60th parallel, July is the heart of summer—THE MONTH, the month of high, intense sun; endless blue skies; ripening blueberries and bearberries; countless wildflowers in full bloom, and smiling anglers. It would be wonderful to describe the last twenty days in that vein. But that would be writing about last season or maybe next season, but not this season. The 2015 season is batting a measly .200 (one for five) on the above criteria. Apparently the weather gods in this neck of the woods didn’t get the memo about all that sunshine we are supposed to be having in July. It’s been one of the cloudiest and wettest of the past two decades.
But it’s also been one of the fishiest. Neither rain, wind, clouds nor cold have kept our guests and guides off the wilderness of water of Scott Lake and the dozen fly out lakes scattered through distant reaches of the Northwest Territories. They have been fishing (and some cases even singing) right through the frequent showers. When nature gives you lemons, stir in the rain and make some tasty lemonade; that’s been the attitude around the lodge this summer: our anglers have kept their focus on the mission at hand—catching fish and enjoying the shore lunches, fine dining and the luxurious amenities of the lodge (the sauna has had a lot more use than in other years). It’s been inspiring to watch our crew face some tough conditions. But they have been rewarded with lots of fish and lots of big fish. No one complains about clouds and rain when they are at the other end of a savage pike or a bulldog lake trout. We have a tough group around here. They keep going and going and going and fishing and fishing and fishing, running on the EverReady batteries of the fishing world—the twin hopes that the last cast didn’t get quite close enough to the monster below but that the next cast will.
The past three weeks have afforded anglers great action along with a lot of trophy fish. In just twenty days 347 trophies were tallied: 246 pike, 70 lake trout and 31 arctic grayling. The pike total is getting very impressive. We are now at 739 trophy pike, a number that exceeds the entire 2012 season, is only 32 short of the 2013 season and is closing in on the all time record season of 2104 which saw 1,184 pike of 40” or better end up in the guide’s hands. That’s nothing short of sensational pike fishing, especially since on average our anglers catch about fifty smaller pike for every trophy landed. That’s a lot of fishing thrills. The trophy pike of the past three weeks have not been just a bunch of barely over the 40” mark either: we have seen some real hogs. Of the 246 trophy pike 17 have been in the “supersized” category of pike over 45”, a real fish of a lifetime. Six anglers landed 45s: Liz Shively, Derek Henderson, Bryce Wallace, Tim Smith, Bill Hendershot and Todd Lee. Another lucky six pack of guests added an extra inch to their supersized pike, landing 46s: Dave Wallace, who caught three 46s in a single day, Sydney Hasselkorn, who at twelve years old has the determination and skill of anglers many times her age, Ken Williamson Sr, Bill Williamson, Jason Loughran and Walter Keller. Then there were two anglers who really went deep into supersizing. On her first pike fishing trip Emma Shapiro brought a 48 incher to the boat and Dave Pepe landed his biggest pike ever, a 49” monster that was lurking on the edge of a rocky drop off and just could not resist the little plastic turbo pike at the end of Dave’s line. Both were fat, heavy pike.
We are in the middle of lake trout season now and the big ones have been turning up in the guide’s landing nets or cradles. In June and early July the cool surface water of our lakes allow lakers to spread around. They could be suspended at shallow depths over two hundred feet of water or in pike bays. They can be anywhere which often translates to nowhere. But when the surface water temps increase the trout head down where they can be more predictably targeted. Our electronics can find the trout but they can’t make them eat. Fortunately the Scott guide team has some tricks up their sleeves. Those arcs on the graphic displays of fish finders have been metamorphosing into fat lake trout posing for pictures along with some lucky anglers. People like Sydney (yes, that twelve year old again) Hasselkorn who had a trip of her young life: with no help from anyone she brought up a fat 40” lake trout, not an easy task for anyone. Others joining 40 inchers for photographs were Liz Shively, Jeff Keller, Dave Huntley, Evan Hendershot and Peter Amanatidis. Jack Potts and Jim Lande posed with 41 inchers and Al Williamson, a long time Scott Lake trout hunter, smiled along with a very girthy 42 incher.
There is still one other gamefish on the Scott Lake fishing agenda—the arctic grayling. Found in river segments between fly out lakes, the arctic grayling is easy to overlook. They have an image problem: they are small fish. When you only weigh a few pounds it’s tough to compete with bruisers like 49” northern pike. But for some of our guests grayling are just the right size. There are few fish that are as acrobatic and cooperative as grayling. It’s an understatement to say that they are not finicky: they love tiny spinners or almost any fly that either floats or sinks. Wading in a fast moving stream and casting to grayling is a satisfying experience for many of our guests. It’s quite similar to fishing streams in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming with one big exception: you will catch a lot more grayling here than trout there. Our supersize for grayling is 18” and we’ve had a few recently: Jim Williamson, Ken Williamson and Jason Loughran pulled in 18s and Jim Lande landed a 19” “sailfish of the north”, a descriptive tribute to the outlandish dorsal fin of the arctic grayling.
Getting a trophy grayling is one of the accomplishments needed to earn the Trophy Triple Hat or the 100+Club jacket. By getting a trophy in all three of our species, Al Ritter, Steve Ritter, Dave Huntley, Mark Jansen and Peter Amanatidis earned their hats. Ken Williamson, Al Williamson, Ken Williamson Jr got the hat plus the custom 100+Club jacket by catching trophies in all three species whose collective lengths reached or exceeded 100 inches, not an easy goal. For the season 14 year old Chase Larson still holds the top spot with 105 total inches. Al Williamson is at 103.5 and Joe Novicki is at 103. But the season is still young with 35 fishing days to go. Often our biggest fish of the year show up in August. Maybe this year August will be THE MONTH for both sunshine and big fish. Our angles will be waiting and watching. Stay tuned.