Week 2 Recap – When The Going Gets Tough…The Tough Get Fishing

Week 2 Recap – When The Going Gets Tough…The Tough Get Fishing

Our second week at Scott Lake Lodge, typically June 14-19, can be absolutely idyllic with blue skies, warm southwest breezes, warming waters and aggressive, hard charging pike that just engulf anything that comes near them. Can be. However, that wasn’t the case this year. The second chapter in the Scott Lake Book of 2024 was a lot more challenging than most years. Except for a very pleasant first day (a day with 40 trophy fish), the weather conspired against our intrepid group of anglers. Even though they had to layer on the layers, they made the best of the conditions and pressed on. And they did just fine. It was cold and windy without a lot of aggressive fish, but with the help of a guide team averaging over 20 years of experience, they caught plenty, a total of 113 trophy fish, mostly pike. In cold conditions everything has to slow down–the retrieve, the hook set and handling the fight. With a surface temperature of only in the mid-40s, more finesse was required than in warmer water conditions when anglers just need to cast, crank and hang on. A lot of slower moving plastic baits and flies were in order. The group did great in adapting their techniques to the tougher than normal conditions.

And we had some nice surprises like Don Luke’s 40.5” gorgeous lake trout caught on Scott Lake on a fly on Day 2. And the number of really big pike. Cold conditions and huge pike usually don’t go together up here, but we did have some very impressive fish. On that first day Mike and Kent Mathis had an incredible day on Wholdaia Lake, one of 24 of the lodge’s flyouts. They boated nine trophy pike including a 45-incher by Mike and a 46 by Kent. In between stormy weather and yes, even a snow squall, some big fish were taken. Pike of 45 or 45.5 inches were caught by long time guests Judy Schmidt, Clayton Jennings, and Peter Myhre (a pair). Barbie Purpura got a 44-inch pike as well. Despite conditions not conducive to fishing for arctic grayling, a species that loves warmer water than what we had this week, Don Luke got a few trophy sized grayling and earned the Trophy Triple hat, catching a trophy in all three of our species—lake trout, northern pike and arctic grayling. Hats off to Don. And hats off to Brigitte Jennings for also leaving the lodge with her Trophy Triple hat.

In our twenty-six years of operation, we have averaged just one “lodge day” a year—a day when it’s so ugly that all or most guests just don’t want to get out on the water. We checked that box on Day 3, a day with clouds, wind and even some snow. Just plain miserable. That didn’t stop some anglers though from getting out even if for just a few hours. Don Luke got his second big trout, a 38.5-inch beauty, while fly fishing in less than desirable conditions. On that tough day only three trophies were taken–Don’s trout, a 36” trout caught by Jonah Oberloh and a 40.5” pike landed by Jeff Quick. We salute these hardy anglers. Obviously a day with only three trophies did depress the weekly trophy total but card games, a hot lunch in the main lodge and a mid-day nap by some eased the pain of missing a day on the water. Scott Lake Lodge has plenty of creature comforts.

The week was a reminder for everyone on our island that fishing in the far north is not always predictable, but it is always inspiring. Fishing is never predictable. If it were, it would be boring. That’s one thing that never happens at Scott Lake. Our service team makes sure of that. A testament to the quality of our customer service program and the loyalty of our guests is one number: twenty of our twenty-six Week 2 guests, despite the tough weather, rebooked for next season. We thank those guests and thank our staff for making a wonderfully sweet lemonade out of the lemons the weather handed us. In fishing (and sports) there is always next year . . .

Let the Games Begin! The Week 1 Report

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

It was a classic opening week with cold nights and mornings but hot fishing. For weather we had it all: wind, cold rain, clouds and just enough intense sunshine to wake up the slumbering giant pike. While it’s been reported in these posts often, it’s simply a fact that great pike fishing and sunshine go together like peanut butter and jam. We had just enough to drive a sensational week. While each day produced plenty of trophy fish, the fourth day of our five-day weeks was incredible. On that single day our guests landed fifty (yes, that’s 50) pike over our trophy standard of 40-inches with three trophy trout (35-inches) thrown in as a bonus. That’s a decent total for an entire season at many other Canadian fishing lodges. And there were some real hogs caught that day—four over 45-inches including a 47.5-inch beauty and a massive 48.5-inch tundra shark. Of course, that was the one day it was full sunshine all day throughout our nine-million acres of fishing territory which encompasses our 22 fly out lakes and the quarter of a million acres of productive water accessible from our docks at Scott.

The other four days weren’t shabby either: the week tallied 140 trophy fish—127 pike and thirteen lake trout. Four of those lakers found the end of Andrew Horan’s line and really made memories. He had a DAY on Smalltree Lake. At the inflow of the Dubawnt River into the lake, he found some dandy lakers, landing fish of 35, 36.5,39 and a monster of 43-inches. While lake trout numbers like that are fairly common in the deep water “trout season” of mid-July to mid-August, they are exceptionally rare for our shallow springtime fishing. And a trout of 43-inches is rare anywhere, anytime. To get a fish like that in water only a couple of feet deep is the angling thrill of a lifetime. Jim Meyer had a similar trout experience. At an inflow (lake trout love moving water in the spring) on Selwyn Lake, Jim found heavy lakers of 38 and 40 inches.

But the week still belonged to the big pike. The big screens at Laker Lodge were filled with huge pike photos every night at the “fish du jour” post-dinner show. Some barely fit the screen. The stats are impressive: seventeen pike taped at 44-inches or better. A bunch of those big ones were landed by Peter Myhre who had an epic pike week. It went like this: Day 1—six trophies; Day 2—six trophies; Day 3–three trophies (an off day); Day 4–eight trophies, and Day 5—eight trophies with a 46 and a fat 48. Peter had eight pike over 44 inches. That’s a trip. Stay tuned. Peter is hard at it right now on his second five-day stay. He did cover a lot of our huge fishing universe, flying to four of our fly out lakes—Selwyn (twice), Gardiner, Sandy and Wholdaia. He’s got some frequent flier miles going.

Sam Hana and Colin McConville also experienced the adrenaline rush of seeing a giant gaping mouth open to engulf their lure. Sam landed a 47.5-inch beauty and Colin saw his guide’s tape reach 48.5-inches end to end and 20.5-inches around the middle, a massive girth. We had so many big fish and big days. Chase Masuga had a seven-trophy day; the father/son team of Harry and Aris Moulopoulos put eight big pike in their guide’s net, including a 45.5-incher that Aris got on the fly rod; Paul Hana also nailed a 45.5-incher on his fly rod, and other 45s were taken by Bubba Morrill and Rob Shaffalo who also got a 44. Pike of 44 were landed by Tom Goebel, Ben Russert and Chase Masuga.

As if all these fish-of-a-lifetime weren’t enough, there were some exciting wildlife encounters. There were four black bears observed on Scott Lake while a wolverine and a muskox were seen at fly out lakes. Of course there were loons, osprey and eagles seen every day on all our lakes. While the weather for the week was variable, there was one constant—FUN. Our guides and customer service team know how to facilitate that #1 Scott Lake metric. While we do count and celebrate big fish, this place is about having a good time, on the water and on our island. Fun is difficult to quantify but easy to spot: it’s the big smile on ten-year-old Landon Gobel’s face as he pulled in his first pike or the smiles all around the room as the image of Andrew Horan’s giant lake trout hit the screen. Fun and food often go together. From our guide’s creative shore lunches to our Head Chef’s magnificent dinners, we satisfied every appetite. The only trouble was that no one wanted to leave. And nearly everyone signed up for 2025 hoping to repeat a memorable week.

It Begins: The Week 14 Blog and Fall Fishing

IT BEGINS – FALL FISHING

Sometimes you know in an instant when something is about to change. It was on the last day of the Week 14 group: a flock of 50 or so geese in an almost perfect V (the right side just a little longer than the left) flew right over our 12-acre island on the 60th parallel. They weren’t the first of the season, but they were low and loud, a reminder that fall is knocking on our door. There have been plenty of other signals that the season is about to shift gears. We had our first vivid northern lights show just a few days ago; the number of bright yellow leaves on the birch trees are multiplying exponentially, and a humble little plant, improbably named the Bastard Toadflax (Comandra umbellata), has started its transformation to brilliant red, the start of creating the multi-colored fall carpet for our tundra landscape. It’s early fall here and for most of our guides it’s the start of their favorite fishing period, fall fishing.

Fall fishing is often fewer fish but bigger fish. For the Week 14 anglers, it seemed like they got the best of both worlds—the action of early season and the size of fall fish. When the water starts to cool our pike and trout put on the feedbag, getting much more aggressive. Flies and lures are often inhaled rather than just taken. And their fight is definitely more prolonged and spirited than the same fish might have offered two months earlier. Our thickest girths and heaviest fish always come in late August and September. Fishing now is not in our shallow bays as in June but in or off structure—any structure like weed beds, rocky points or drop-offs. Wind on deep shorelines is often the guide’s first line of attack. And it’s been working. Our group had just over 100 trophy fish but in that number were some monsters.

Lake trout again were the top billing, both on Scott Lake and our fly out lakes, notably Selwyn. The father/son team of Dave and Adam Schauer had a banner day on Selwyn, landing seven trophy lakers with six of them over 39”. Adam had already taken a 40” lake trout off Scott. John Duro had a big trout day on Scott getting dozens including a 39-incher. Carl Tanner, his fishing partner, caught a 41.5” and a 43” lake trout on Scott. Chris Ellis bagged a 39.5’, a 40” and a 41” on Selwyn. Shane Fifield was on Selwyn for a 40-incher and long time Scott regular Frank Saraka got his tank of a trout there as well—a girthy 44.5” monster. The biggest of the week though came right the lodge’s backyard and it was massive, a 45-incher pulled in my Linda Watt. Linda also landed a 45-inch pike. Not bad for her first trip to Scott.

Yes, there were plenty of pike, both in numbers and size. Pike at 44” made their appearance on the big TV screen, during the after-dinner fish show, accompanied by their angling friends—Cave Schauer, Cooper Allen and Johnny Davis. Pike of 45 were landed by Cooper Allen and Jim Loken. Bobby Regan tied Adam Schauer with the biggest pike of the week at 46.5 inches. There were a few Trophy Triple hats handed out as well this week. Graham Allen, Cooper Allen and Johnny Powers all pulled off the hat trick of getting all three of our species (northern pike, lake trout and arctic grayling) in trophy size. Cooper and Johnny had enough total inches of their three biggest to earn entry into the 100+Club. They will be wearing a custom jacket from this fall fishing.

It wasn’t a particularly sunny week and there were a few showers but the atmosphere in the lodge was always bright and sunny. We couldn’t help but notice how the dozen first-timers at the lodge arrived as strangers here but left with many new friends. Sharing the experiences of fall fishing in this remarkable wilderness surrounded by a team of customer-focused lodge staff creates just the right environment for friendships to develop. It happens all the time. It’s a Scott Lake Lodge tradition. It’s why we often use the slogan “World Class Fishing and More”. That’s the “More” and it’s the best part.

The Lucky 13s: The Thirteenth Fishing Week in Review

The Lucky 13s: The Thirteenth Fishing Week in Review

Lucky 13 Fishing Week

Let’s call this group Lucky 13, named after the famous Heddon topwater lure of years gone by. They were lucky twice, make it three times. First, they were lucky to have missed the fire-related shutdown of the lodge. Second, they brought with them some perfect weather, five days of warm temperatures, mild winds and absolutely no rain. Third, they were seriously lucky with their fishing week. This group nailed 175 trophy fish including a bunch of really big ones. Especially lots of huge trout. This is what we call trout season at Scott. Early to mid-August is when the big ones head to the deeper parts of our lakes where, counterintuitively, they are easier to find and catch by trolling or jigging. How many? How big? Many as in many hundreds, maybe a thousand. But who’s counting. Just two guys, Peter Mancuso and Todd Gordon, had over 100 lakers to the boat in a single day. Jigging right over the holes was the key there. And big? The Williamson group, long time Scott vets, hammered the big lake trout. Their group of six landed fourteen lake trout of 40” or better on a single day on Selwyn Lake, one of our 24 fly out destinations. Jason Loughran on that day tied our season’s biggest at 45.5 inches, along with a 43, a 42, and two other trophies. Ken Williamson, Sr got five trophy trout with three of them over 40”. The rest of the Williamson crowd did almost as well: Jim, Al, and Leland got two trout over 40” and Tyler got one. That’s an incredible Troutfest: 23 trophy trout in one amazing day. That 40-inch “Supersized” mark was also hit by Les Stevens, Rollin Sears, Peter Mancuso, Russ Robertson, John Gobis and Brad Chapin. That’s a total of 20 lakers over 40 inches. In a typical season we get around 40 at 40”. Our lucky 13’s got half of a season in a single group. This group had the lake trout zeroed in. At just an inch under our “Supersized” mark, 39-inchers were taken by Jason Loughran, Jerry Kyle and John Gobis who got a pair.

Pike were in the crosshairs too for this fishing week. It was a phenomenal pike week with ten over our pike “Supersized” length of 45”. Tyler Williamson, Joe Underwood, Russ Robertson, Jason Loughran, Will Bixby and Scott Bixby got 45s. Will also got a 46 along with Tyler Williamson and Leland Williamson (those Williamson’s again). Scott Bixby on his last day here topped the group with a very impressive looking 47-inch beauty. And so many 44s: Russ Robertson, Rollin Sears, Ken Williamson, Al Williamson, Peter Mancuso, Randy Crawford, Jason Loughran, Luke Beeler and John Gobis all got fish that for many fishing trips is the big fish of the week. Just a long list at Scott. Jason’s name keeps coming up. He got a six-pack of pike trophies in a single day.

Only two anglers ventured out for grayling and both ended up getting entrance into the 100+Club. Tyler and Leland Williamson will get their custom jacket this fall but did leave with their Trophy Triple hats.

A week of great fish and probably better fish stories. It’s all in the Scott Lake Adventure. Not to mention the moose, bear and muskox sightings- Les Stephens and Rollin Sears saw all three species in one day, a first here. Next year they need to see the elusive wolverine!

OF FUN, FISH AND FIRE: The Week 10 Update

OF FUN, FISH AND FIRE: The Week 10 Update

Trophy Trout Lead the Way

Our Week 10 group had it all: good times at the lodge, giant fish and some drama to end the trip. The fun was obvious every evening. This was a group with long ties to Scott that knew how to have a good time. The evenings were celebratory and for good reason: the fish this group caught were huge. Our trophy count of 136 wasn’t top of the heap but the size of many of those trophies was extraordinary.

Where do we start? How about lake trout? We are in the middle of our prime “lake trout season”. The big lakers are now comfortably in their cool water-deep holes. Unlike anglers, lakers like water about 50 degrees which now translates to a depth of around 100’. On Scott, Premier, Wignes and the flyout lakes we have a lot of water that deep. Guides don’t have to motor far to stay in great lake trout holes. They found them this week. We had 45 trophy trout, our highest total of the season. These were not the barely over the trophy mark (35”) fish. Many were hogs with fins. Of the total trophies, 14 were over the 40-inch mark, our measure of “supersized” lake trout. Bill Williamson had a trio of monsters—a 40, 41 and a magnificent 45-incher. Usually, we get one or two 40s in a week and typically those would be the biggest trout of the week. This week we had 6 at 40. In addition to Bill’s trophy trout, other Williamson’s got in that game: Dylan Williamson, Lachlan Williamson and Ken Williamson Sr all got 40s with Ken adding a 41 and Dylan getting a 43. Nick Tallman and Jerry Kolek joined the 40” club as well. On the last very smoky day Mike Rogers landed a 41-incher which put him into the 100+Club at 104”. We’re not done with trout yet! It was our best big trout week of the season. Larry Rohan put on a big trout clinic. He got a 41 and a 45. One or two lake trout at 45 is typically a full season. We were at two early in the week. Then Connor Patrick, grandson of long-time guest Mike Rogers, added the third 45” trout, caught within 10 minutes of the lodge. It was 14-year-old Connor’s first trip to the far north. His fishing in northern Minnesota has been OK but he wasn’t prepared for what he experienced here. His giant trophy trout combined with a 46” pike and 18” grayling shot him into the front of the 100+Club ranks with a 109” total, showing grandpa just how it’s done. We thank our guide Steve Linder, better known as Biff Piston, for getting that big grayling after a three-hour effort. Everyone who knows Biff knows how much he loves fishing for grayling. Biff likes fish with big teeth. Congrats to all involved in Connor’s Quest. It was the Trip of a Lifetime at a very early age. We’re betting on 110 inches on his next trip up.

Our northern pike weren’t exactly shy this week either. In fact, it was also our best big pike week of the season. Ken Williamson Jr landed eight trophy pike on a single memorable day. Mike Rogers and Bill Harvey each had a single day with a 4-pack of trophy pike. The big news though was sheer size: we had 11 of our “supersized pike”, fish of 45” or better, in our week’s bag. The 45s came in pairs, at least for Mike Rogers and Jacob Williamson who both caught not one but two of those spectacular fish. Ken Williamson Sr got his 45 on the same day he landed a 42” pike and four trophy trout with two over 40 inches. Crazy wonderful day. At an inch up on the tape four anglers landed 46s, probably the first time ever we’ve had that many 46s in a week. In addition to the one Conner Patrick got, Rick Spork, Lachlan Williamson (you’ve seen that last name a lot) and Bill Harvey pulled a 46” beauty into their guide’s waiting net. Alex Spork had his personal best this trip, a dandy 47-incher. And on the last day in some of the heaviest smoke we have ever experienced here Mike Pendleton got a 47.5” monster to end his trip on a very high note.

But speaking of smoke we can’t leave this review of Week 10 without mentioning the f-word—FIRE. We have lived with fire here for nearly three decades. It’s part of the overall far north experience to see smoke in the distance. In this part of the world fires are not suppressed unless they endanger lives or significant infrastructure. We are in fact living in a fire dependent ecosystem in the Saskatchewan/Northwest Territories border region. It shapes our landscape. And it can shape our fears. Unlike many parts of Canada, we had a relatively low fire season in this corner of the north. Until last week. A major thunderstorm passed over the Scott Lake area just over a week ago. For 35 days we had not had any serious rain, even during those storms. The land was ready for the spark. It took quite a few days to turn those small fires into big fires, but with some fierce windy weather late in Week 10 we looked at a different world on the last day of our Week 10 group.

What had been irritating but tolerable levels of smoke turned into a thick blanket of heavy smoke on the morning of the final day. It gave us the worst smoke ever seen in our 27 years here. It was dead calm and the smoke just sat. To say the least, this was not good. We watched and waited for a safe window to fly our guests and many of our staff out in the floatplanes. The window opened just enough for just long enough. We got everyone safely to Stony Rapids in floats to the waiting Dash-8 to take them to Edmonton.

We could not in good conscience bring the new group north. A fire north of the lodge was just getting too close. It was a crushing disappointment for those who had assembled in Edmonton to have their shot at a dream fishing trip. But the rule has always been safety first here. We just couldn’t bring new guests into a situation with a known fire/smoke risk. It was the first time ever we have cancelled a trip during season (we’ve had a few ice-related cancellations at the front end of the season). We are currently preparing our island for the worst if a fast-moving fire to our north doesn’t burn out soon. With the right winds it could. The strong winds of July 30 did move out the heavy layer of smoke. Today looks better than yesterday. We will keep our August guests up to date on the situation. Rain is in the forecast.

WORD TO THE WISE:

SOME ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS GOING ANYWHERE IN THIS ERA: GET TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE. AIRLINE FLIGHT DELAYS/CANCELLATIONS COULD END YOUR TRIP TO SCOTT LAKE (OR TO ANY DESTINATION LODGE) BEFORE IT STARTS . WE STRONGLY ADVISE THAT TRAVELERS SECURE COVERAGE FOR JUST THIS SORT OF EVENTUALITY. THE RISK AT SCOTT LAKE LODGE IS EVEN GREATER SINCE THERE IS NOT A SCHEDULED FLIGHT BETWEEN EDMONTON (OUR HUB) AND STONY RAPIDS (OUR FLOAT BASE). IF YOU ARE DELAYED AND MISS OUR CHARTER IT WILL BE DIFFICULT IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO GET TO THE LODGE. NOT TO MENTION FIRES UP HERE.