Join in with the winter Scott Lake Lodge Crew as they recount some bear stories from quarantine at the lodge.
Join in with the winter Scott Lake Lodge Crew as they recount some bear stories from quarantine at the lodge.
While up at the lodge this month the team discussed keeping in touch with our Scott Lake Lodge family now more than ever in these difficult times. So we started a podcast! Tune in to the first couple episodes as Happy Hour conversations…similar to summer at the lodge…cover a variety of topics.
We hope this is a way to capture the stories, history of the lodge and the people that make it so special. We’ll talk outdoors, fishing, hunting and generally have some laughs.
Let us know what you’d like to hear and be sure to tune in and SUBSCRIBE! Leave us a 5 star rating too if you like it!
STAY SAFE ALL!
LIGHTS OUT: THE WEEK 17 UPDATE
Sometimes being last is OK. At least that’s the way it turned out for our final group of the season. They had a “lights out” trip, literally. Many of our guests had expressed interest in seeing the northern lights. Well, the lights were out and, for those willing to stay up late, they got a great show. Of their five nights on this island smack on the 60th parallel, four featured northern lights; two nights were average and two were, to borrow a phrase from the 60s, out of sight. One doesn’t need to understand the northern lights to enjoy them. It’s just a light show on a very big stage. While the lights seem to hover pretty close, they are actually quite far out. They do their thing in a range of 50-300 miles above the earth, the result of a giant electrical discharge created by a cosmic generator using the earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind which interacts with the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere. And that’s just the beginning of the science, none of which is nearly as poetic as the experience of just watching. Watch our group did, often right on the deck of the main lodge. It was indeed a highlight of the trip for many.
There were many other highlights. People do come here to fish and not just enjoy the many amenities of the lodge life. Fish they did. With the small to medium sized lake trout now up and shallow, the numbers were impressive. Of the several thousand fish landed in five days, 124 met our trophy standards, not a record week but a very good week. Jim Kusar had his own version of a lights out trip. He had a day any pike angler would dream about. How about six trophy pike in one day that included lifetime trophies like a 46 and a 48 incher? Just to rub it in, he added a 45-inch pike a couple of days later. That’s a trip. He wasn’t alone in watching huge pike slide into a guide’s big net. Joan Schackmuth, Adam Strobel, Gerry O’Shaughnessy and John O’Shaughnessy all had pike of 45 inches or better. For some it was a much smaller fish that made their trip. Grayling were back in the news this week. We have found a real grayling mecca. Mark and Rebecca Graf were there and pulled sixteen trophy grayling out of the rapids with both landing 18 inchers. Dave Dalvey, Debbie Blue and Grant Mitchell also put 18s in their guide’s grayling-sized net.
The lake trout were on the move. In late August and early September, thousands (maybe tens of thousands) lake trout move from the deep water to stage near their spawning grounds on shallow, rocky reefs. One of our 22 fly out lakes is smaller than others and has a history of an early trout spawn. Paul and Tess Rowland were there to meet them. The deeper edges of the spawning reefs were alive with trout. They caught dozens upon dozens. These weren’t the monster trout that we get trolling in deep water, but they were fighting fools of 25 to 35 inches. Pound for pound these far north lake trout can hold their own in fighting speed and stamina with any of the more storied freshwater fish like peacock bass, tiger fish or golden dorado. You just need to meet them on their own terms—cold, shallow water. Of their many trout, one was quite memorable; it was the disappearing trout. Paul brought a beautiful trout painted in vivid fall colors to his guides waiting net. The guide expertly removed the hook. The fish was calmly swimming in the huge net as he reached for the measuring tape, but when he put his hands in the net, he found not a heavy trout in his net but a hole at the bottom of the net. Always a good sport, Paul just admired a new quality in his guide—the magician who can make a trout disappear. In truth, measured and photographed, it would have been just another trophy trout. This way it’s a story. Many other nets had no holes and dandy trout were actually measured. Mark Graf, in over 30 trips to Scott Lake Lodge, has caught some huge trout, one of our biggest ever in fact, but he never landed a trout that looked as ancient as the 42 incher that came out of one of our newer fly out lakes—the picture says it all. Other big lakers made the trip for Grant Mitchell (a 40.5” lake trout that was in six feet of water and landed on spinning gear), Ron Juergens (a 39.5-inch beauty) and Liz Snyder (a deep water 39 incher). Patrick O’Shaughnessy had a four-trophy trout day topping out at 38 inches.
The group had four wonderful fall days until the fifth day when a cold wind sent many of our guests back to the lodge and the warmth of their cozy rooms. They had all caught plenty of fish and had their own stories and memories. Long time guest Dave Dalvey just had to go to one of his favorite fly out lakes. He got the last trophy fish of the season, just a regular nice 41-inch pike, but it was special to the lodge. It was trophy number 2,674 for the 2019 season, blowing away last year’s record total of 2,221. Yes, it was a good year, a very good year.
What makes a great fall fishing trip? There isn’t an app for that, but there is an old school checklist. A fishing trip with no annoying bugs? Check! Some wildlife sightings? Check! Northern lights? Check! An after-dinner campfire? Check! Pleasant conversation over fine dinners? Check! Great guides who actually help you catch fish? Check! How about some big fish? Double check!! It was clearly fall for our second last group of the season. While there were cool nights (make that some cold nights) and lots of cloud cover, those conditions didn’t seem to bother these fish of fall. Right off the bat on the first day, Zak Skolnick had a wonderful six pack day—six trophy pike. Bob Nettune and Mike Menedeo, long time fishing partners, had a mirror image day on their first day: each landing three trophy pike with both getting 46 inchers—that’s friendly fishing. Unlike early season pike, fall pike are just plain piggy. A typical 40-inch trophy caught in late August or early September is about 20% heavier than the same fish was in June: they spend all summer eating, but chow down especially heavily in August. All week on the nightly “fish du jour” presentation we were seeing exceptionally fat pike, some with girths hitting 20 inches. There were two very heavy 45s caught this group, one by Zac Skolnick who had a fantastic trip and one by Frank Saraka who we saw on the big screen more than once. Carl Fernyak had a big day with seven trophies—two lakers topping out at 37.5 inches and five pike with the biggest 44 inches. That’s a nice mixed bag.
Like the previous week, grayling were in the news. Of the group’s 158 trophy fish, 62 were pike and 81 were arctic grayling. And there were some dandy grayling. Annamarie Fernyak, who earned the Trophy Triple hat in a single day of angling, the “Done in One”, and Scott Sheldon each landed 19.5-inch miniature sailfish in the fast water of one of our most northerly fly outs. Grayling of 18.5 inches were taken by Carl Fernyuak, Shane Benson and Bill Russell who used that big grayling to join the 100+Club. (Their big grayling also helped Carl Fernyak and Suzanne Billing join the exclusive club.) Still a huge grayling, 18 inchers were landed by Zac Skolnick and Gina Cabrera-Benson. When grayling are on, they are really on. Scott Sheldon landed 17 over our trophy size of 15 inches. Annamarie and Carl Fernyak ended up with 18 trophies on their grayling stop which is typically just an hour or two during a full day fishing for pike and lake trout; Suzanne Billing and Zak Skolnick had 18; Shane Benson and Gina Cabrera-Benson got an even dozen. Everyone who went out for this compact but beautiful fish got them in bunches.
The lake trout didn’t come in bunches this week. With a lot of cool weather some of the big trout were shallow, some were mid-depth, and some were still deep, making catching them a bit more challenging. Bill Russell was up for the challenge, landing a massive 43.5-inch laker on the first day of his trip. Mike Minedeo and Keli Wall almost hit our 40-inch super-sized mark with 39-inch beauties. There were another dozen trout trophies in the books as well.
So did this group fall for fall fishing. We can’t read minds, but we can read our rebooking results. Of the 26 anglers, 20 booked the same room, guide and week for the 2020 season. That says it all. It was a great fall experience.
THE ATTACK OF THE GIANT TROUT
Some groups this season have enjoyed blue skies, warm breezes and gentle, lapping waves. This group wasn’t one of them. There were a few decent days but we had a couple that were total wash outs with fierce north winds. Generally, the sun was MIA. Fortunately, we had on the island a bunch of hardy Midwesterners who are used to tough weather and proud to handle it. We had groups from Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and Oklahoma who just rolled with the weather punches and coped well. And even a few (but not all) of the Texans here this week kept going out in the worst of it.
But the last two days were tough duty. Our trophy count showed it. Over the first three days with OK weather our anglers tallied 78 trophy fish (a very nice average), but the last two coughed up only 9. Without any sunshine to get the big pike moving, the onslaught of huge pike that started a couple of weeks ago slowed down. There were 45 inchers landed by Paula Lee and our Chef Ross Kennedy and a couple of 46ers taken by Peter Myhre and Eric Carter, but none of the 47s, 48s or 49s showed up this time. Paula and Todd Lee gave the pike trophy totals a big boost when they teamed up for 10 trophies on a damp but productive day. Grayling were part of the news this week. At a premier new grayling destination, Ken Wollin used his light fly rod to battle some grayling with the build of a walleye, getting a season’s high 20 incher along with two 18s and a 19. Ross Kennedy paired his nice pike with a 19.5” grayling. In the fast water of grayling rivers, these smallest of our gamefish show a lot of game.
What made the week sing for many of our guests though were lake trout—big lake trout. It was by far the best trout week of the season. There were some giants, none bigger than a very fat 44 incher landed, after an extended fight, by Jacob Kippenhan not far from the lodge. The Keppenhan clan (six strong) had a memorable day on a fly out lake. (Remember a trophy trout is 35 inches.) They got plenty of those but specialized in the “super-sized” (40 inches or better) variety. Nick and Tim almost made that threshold with 39.5” lakers, but Greg and Mike made the cut with 40.5” beauties. Noah blew right though the 40”mark, getting a 43” monster along with two 40s. The Newland’s got into big trout as well. On her first day at Scott, April Newland landed a 42” laker and husband Bryon got a 40 and a 42.5 incher, all within sight of the lodge. Bryon got another 42.5” trout on a fly out. Bill Hallinan had a big day with lakers too, landing a 42” and a 43” giant. That’s a lot of giant trout for a five-day period. Seeing those big fish come up to the surface in these clear northern waters is a thrill an angler will never forget. With cooling surface temperatures, the smaller lake trout are moving up now. Many were caught while anglers were casting for pike.
They didn’t get a monster trout this trip, but Jon Wheat and Eric Jahde had a monster wildlife sighting. Seeing a wolf is a treat anywhere, but seeing a white wolf is a lifetime memory. They didn’t have time for pictures but the picture of an elusive animal like that will burn in their minds for a long time. As we get into the second half of August, we get the annual build up of migrating loons that are already heading south from more distant summer homes. Scott Lake is a frequent resting stop on their journey. This week one of our guides saw a group of 19 common loons on the lake. We’re not sure just what our resident loons think of this, but it’s a big lake and there are a lot of lake cisco to feed a big crowd.
Our own crowd was well fed too with some delectable dinners. No one plans on losing any weight on their Scott Lake vacation and probably no one did.