The Momentum Continues: Week 5 Update

The Momentum Continues: Week 5 Update

THE BIG MO

Trophy Fish Excellence

Momentum is a wonderful thing. We had big time momentum coming out of Week 4 when a season high (and one of our all-time highs) of 195 trophy fish were landed. The first day of fishing Week 5 picked right up where fishing Week 4 left off: it was gangbusters. The new group put 53 trophies in the boats on the first day, a top daily number for the season, and 44 on the second. The big pike were ravenous. Over those two days of warm weather four 44s, three 45s, four 46s and a 47 appeared on our nightly big fish of the day screening. That’s a season’s worth of big pike at most lodges. Then the temperatures dropped and so did our trophy fish totals, but we still managed to hit 131 for the group, not shabby at all. We did have some smoke in the air over the first three days which compromised the sight-fishing, but it didn’t seem to bother the pike. As long as the temperatures stay up so do the pike totals. And this was an almost all pike week. There were only a handful of lake trout and grayling (a dozen to be exact) landed.

Two of that dozen deserve a special mention. On the fourth day of our five-day “weeks” we had a Big Blow. The wind was ripping at over 40 miles and hour and the waves were a bit daunting. Most of our anglers liked the comforts of the lodge for that day with some card games at Laker Lodge, hikes on our Tundra Trail or just relaxing with a sauna or a book. But some did go out. Two of those brave guests were Julianne Harris and Chris Cervantes. They didn’t go far from the lodge. They didn’t have two. About two hundred yards from our main dock, they were trolling for lake trout in about 30 feet of water. Both got the lake trout of their lives, a supersized 40 and three-quarters for Julie and a 41 for Chris. Those were the only fish trophies of the day.

Our guests will probably remember those early days of the week when big fish seemed to be everywhere. It was a remarkable surge of wild action with so many quality fish. The big pike were the story. So many! Trophy northern pike of 44” were landed by Jim Kloote, Chris Cervantes, Adam Garvanian and Dave Morales II; 45s by Donna Quincey, Julianne Harris, and Susan Edwards; 46s by Dale and Jordan Pryor (same day), Jim Kusar and Steve Kozlowski. The best big fish story of the week though had to be Donna Quincy’s. On her first ever northern fishing trip she made her first ever pike catch quite memorable—a 47” monster. Yes, her first pike ever. She asked politely when it was in the net if it was a “big one”. Yes, Donna it was. Many hard-core pike anglers have fished for decades without getting one that big. She added a 45.5” trophy fish on the same day. Way to go Donna!

As it happens often, the big fish turn on at the same time. We had many examples of multiple trophies on the same day. Julianne Harris and Chris Cervantes really like Wignes Lake, a big lake connected to Scott and fished right from our dock. On two days they took the boat ride with wonderful results: nine pike trophies on one day and five on the other. A relatively new addition to our fishing empire, Wignes has become a popular destination for our guides. Our fly out lakes continue to pop out a lot of big fish. On Selwyn Lake the father/son team of Dale and Jordan Pryor landed eight northern pike trophies in a single day with two 46s. Another father/son team of Bruce and Steve Kozlowski got a cool dozen on the same lake with Steve getting a 46. (They also got five together on Sandy Lake.) Adam Garvanian and Andy Nardo picked up eight on Selwyn. Kevin and Susan Edwards got a mixed bag of six pike and grayling on Smalltree Lake. On the far east end of huge Wholdaia Lake, Gerry O’Brien and Andrew Troop got their mixed bag of nine trophies with all three of our species represented. Gerry earned his Trophy Triple hat there. Lots of big trophy fish. Lots of great memories, both on and off the water. It’s what we do at Scott Lake Lodge.

The Goretex Gang: Week 2 Update

The Goretex Gang: Week 2 Update

If only . . . If only the entire week could have been like the fourth day of our Week 2 adventure. On that day we were gifted the most precious far-north commodity—bright sunshine. The sun on the water woke up the big pike and brought them scattered from deep water to bask in the shallows. Amazingly, it only took one day. And with sunlight, you could see the big pike in the shallows! For our anglers, it was a glorious day. For the after-dinner trophy announcements at the main lodge, the stack of trophy slips filled out by the guides was thick, 38 slips thick. That’s a lot of big fish for a single day (for some lodges further south of here that could be a week’s, a month’s or even a season’s total). And they came in bunches. There were four-packs of trophy pike for Rory Wright who landed a 44” and 45.5-incher, and Jeff Berg, who landed the biggest pike of this young season at 47.5”. There were three-packs of pike for Abe Martinez, Vinnie Purpura, Don Luke and Erik Luke. There was even Julie Heinmiller’s 40-inch trout thrown in for good measure. It was a hell of a day, but historically not an unusual day for the spring fishing at Scott.

Unfortunately, it was our only day in the sun. The other days, well to put it in a single phase—they sucked. It was cold, rainy or windy or all three simultaneously. Our anglers often had to work hard and fly far to find fish. Despite the tough conditions, there were fish landed on other days. We had a total of 115 trophy fish, not bad. Don and Eric Luke each landed four big pike trophies on Day 3, Don with a 44” and Eric with a 45.75” pike (now that’s a tight tape). On the same day, Jeff Quick landed three pike trophies including a 45-incher. Jeff Berg got a 47 (yes, he got two monsters on his trip). On Day 2 Conrad Schmidt caught four trophy pike. Notable fish were scattered throughout the week. One of our rare “first timers” at Scott, Al Malinowski, got his first ever big pike on his second day here and it was a dandy at 45-inches. There were 44-inchers taken by John Heinmiller, Abe Martinez, Peggy Light, Chris Luke and Jeff Quick. On the last day Ross Purpura Jr, not far from the lodge, brought a fat 47-incher into his guide’s net.

Given the high winds and limited sight conditions a lot of guides and anglers opted to troll for lake trout. There were many hundreds landed. Among those trout were some good ones. Ross Purpura Jr got a 38” laker; Ross Sr got a 37.5” lake trout; Peter Schmidt got in the trout game with a 37; Connie Schmidt landed a pair of 36.5-inchers; Judy Schmidt scored a 36-incher. The big 40-inch trout for Julie Heinmiller, along with a big 18.5” grayling and a nice 43.5” pike, gave her the first 100+Club membership of the season at 101.5 total inches for her trophy trout, grayling and big pike. Congrats to Julie.
So, despite having to bundle up against the wind, rain and cold our group did great in the fish department. And they all were determined to make the best out of some tough conditions. Our hats are off to them. Next time we hope they get only one day of rain instead of one day of sun. Then they can enjoy our marvelous shore lunch experiences and the sight-fishing we’re famous for. Of course, as all anglers know you fish what you get and our gang did just that, quite successfully.

The Long Wait is Over: The Week 1 Update

The Long Wait is Over: The Week 1 Update

It had been 270 days since the last group of the 2022 fishing season stepped off the dock at Scott Lake Lodge and climbed in our floatplanes to head south. For all our staff and the many Scott Lake Lodge regulars, the wait for the new 2023 fishing season is a long one. But there is magic in the waiting. Stories are told and retold; that next deadly lure or fly is purchased and admired long before it hits the water; travel arrangements are made, and in the weeks just before departure, the anticipation hits a fever pitch. So it was with just over two dozen anglers who opened our 2023 fishing season on June 9th. They arrived at Scott on a beautiful blue-sky day. Unfortunately, that was the only blue sky they saw for the next five days. But they were watching for fish at the end of their lines not gazing at clouds. The cloudy and dark days did compromise the sight fishing for pike but plenty of pike and lake trout added their own sight to the equation and provided some classic northern Canadian angling.

Our opening day was warm and inviting. The south wind was what we always hope for to bring a warm wind. This one brought some smoke as well, but it didn’t bother the fish or the anglers. While there were twenty trophies brought to the guide’s hands, there was one very memorable catch. Twelve-year-old Anthony Ragone has been dreaming of being a Canadian fishing guide. He has some hoops to jump through with immigration. But catching a big pike on your first day of fishing in Canada can happen. And it did. Anthony handled a scrappy 41” pike like a pro and created a lifetime memory. His dad, Lou, landed a 40 incher the same day. Anthony is permanently hooked. It will be hard to go back to bluegills and perch. We had a great opening day with twenty-two trophies tallied. Chase Masuga had a big day, bringing in six trophy pike. His top fish was a 45.5” fatty. Peter Myhre a long-time guest with a knack for catching big pike had a nice string of five trophy pike with his biggest of the day at 43”. Peter ended up with a total of 14 trophy pike for his trip. Not his record but a very respectable number. There were some heavy-weights in the batch of 82 trophies for the week. Scott Manley and fishing partner Sam Hanna landed back-to-back 44” pike; Rob Shaffalo got a 45-incher and Ken Conley pulled in a dandy 46. But the fish of the week was another 46 that may turn out to be one of the heaviest pike of the2023 fishing season. On Premier Lake, another adjacent boat-to lake, Nathan Heiter looked down in a quiet bay and saw a “wolf pack” of big pike. Big pike are typically loners, but this was an impressive group of fish that were all way over 40”, our trophy mark. Fortunately, he threw his spinner to the biggest one. After an impressive battle a very impressive pike went into the guide’s big net. It didn’t look like a 46-incher because it had such an incredible girth. We get a lot of pike around here over 45” (124 last season alone). Most of those will have a girth of 16 or 17 inches. Occasionally we see a jumbo that tapes 19. Rarely does one, even the 48 to 50-inchers, pull the tape to 20”. That’s a fat fish! Nathan’s pike measured 21.5 inches around a belly that went from pectoral fin to caudal fin with essentially the same girth. It was simply a spectacular slob of a fish. What makes it so unusual is that a pike in June tends to be a bit skinnier than the same pike in August or September when they really put on the feedback getting ready for winter. If caught again this fall Nathan’s fish will be even more amazing. Everyone will be looking for that porker. Big pike weren’t the only story for the week. Early June is when the water temperature allows lake trout to cruise anywhere on the lake they want. They are comfortable in temps around 50 degrees, right where most areas of our lakes were sitting this week. Hundreds of lakers were landed, many while casting and many more while flat-line trolling just under the surface. Paul Hanna led the trout parade. His gorgeous spring trout hit our super-sized mark of 40-inches. A year ago Paul landed a 49” pike during our first week. He loves the early season. There were many other trophy trout (our trophy standard is 35”) this week: John Goebel and Patrick Goebel got a pair each while Lou Ragone, Tom Goebel and Chase Masuga all landed a trophy laker.

Bottom line: it was a wonderful opening week with very little sunshine and a determined group of anglers that faced cold and windy weather like pros. It wasn’t the sunniest opening week of our 25-year history, but it featured great numbers and enough big fish to keep everyone’s excitement level nice and high. At the main lodge the dinner hour echoed fish stories throughout the room. After dinner hour we had more stories and songs and a general excitement about the time and place we were all in. That’s what a fishing trip is all about—fish stories and the warmth of friendships created and or enhanced in an intimate wilderness setting. Add the world-class customer service that Scott Lake Lodge is famous for, and you have the ingredients of a fantastic week. Despite some tough conditions everyone left the lodge with a big smile. Just ask any of our Week 1 guests: the long wait was worth it.

High Drama on the 60th Parallel: The Week 7 Review

High Drama on the 60th Parallel: The Week 7 Review

WEEK 7 UPDATE: HIGH DRAMA ON THE 60TH PARALLEL

Every life needs a shot of drama now and then. Our seventh group of the season got their share, from the waters and from the sky. First the water. As we have written often in this space over the past couple of decades, at Scott Lake Lodge and in most of Canada generally pike fishing and weather go hand in hand: cold temperatures with no sun equals cool fishing; warm temperatures with plenty of sun equals hot fishing. After several weeks of cool (no, call it cold) weather and slower than normal fishing, the weather turned starting with the sixth group. And then it just got better and better. The lakes warmed up and the pike woke up and looked around. They found Blue Fox spinners, Havoc soft plastics, good ‘ole Len Thompson and Half Wave spoons, flies like bunny leeches, whistlers and deceivers. They just didn’t see them: they engulfed them. The group’s second day was memorable. Everyone caught a lot of fish and big fish. For some it was extraordinary. Peter Myhre, a fifteen day guest, continued his hot hand and landed eight trophy pike, topped by a 47 incher, on that day alone; the father/son team of Mike and Nick Manship boated nine trophy pike, both getting 47 inchers as their top pike; Terry Walker and Tom Granneman had a banner day getting a baker’s dozen big pike with a fat 44 as their top pike. That’s just five anglers on one day. With 139 trophy fish taken there were many other great days and great stories. All thanks to the sunshine.

Outstanding Fishing Weather

The sun also turned on the arctic grayling. After catching dozens of pike on a nearby flyout lake, Marc Pierce and Nick Witaker hit the rapids to try dry flies for this northern icon. They found them by the dozen and landed fourteen trophies, each getting nice 17 inchers. The sun didn’t help the trout fishing (lakers prefer cloudy weather) but Nick Manship landed a 37 and 39 inch pair.
Big pike though were the show on Scott and our flyout lakes. In addition to the three 47s mentioned earlier, there were three pike at 46 inches (Mike Manship with one and Peter Myrhe with two); three at 45 inches (Mike Sackash with one and Peter Myrhe with two), and nine at 44 inches (Chad Castro, Mark Peterson, Terry Walker, Tom Granneman, Adrian Levy with one each and, yes, a few by Peter Myrhe, four to be exact). Peter had one heck of a week.

Fishing Weather Sometimes Just Becomes Weather

That’s a lot of fish drama, but it was only part of the week seven show. It was the sky’s turn. In this corner of the world, hot weather like we had isn’t common and it generally creates some turbulent weather. Really hot weather creates really turbulent weather. With temperatures nudging over 90, the conditions were ripe for some summer thunderstorms. Those with any outdoor experience could feel something brewing in the skies. Our management team and our pilots definitely felt it: they were focused on just one thing—getting the fish-eager new group in and fish-saturated group out. We almost pulled it off. All the signs for a real “frog-drowner” were there so we tried to hustle up our changeover. One group of nine arrived in a private plane before out charter flight, a Dash 8-300, from Edmonton landed. We quickly got that group on an Otter and headed them out on the 50-mile flight from Stony Rapids to the lodge. With lightning at their heels, they landed safely at the Scott dock. With three more flights to go, Mother Nature had her say. That was the last flight to land for another three hours. With twenty-six anglers at the lodge waiting to go south and nineteen still in Stony waiting to head north, all hell broke loose. The skies at both ends of that trip opened up with driving sheets of rain, steady drumbeats of arresting thunderclaps, and way-too-close lightning.
It was a Biblical storm, probably the most violent in the twenty-five years of Scott Lake’s history and of course it hit on a changeover day when all 52 guests wanted to get to Scott or get home. For the aviation crew all hands were busy triple-tying down the three remaining floatplanes. In a minute they were drenched to the skin. The folks at Scott were warm and dry in the Last Cast bar enjoying drinks but the folks in Stony were huddled in a small float base office watching a new river running down to the real river. Then the power went out in Stony, so it was impossible to fuel the planes. It looked like it might be a long night in a town not famous for nice hotels. Then just like that the cell passed and the sun came out. The power returned; the planes were fueled, and the plane parade south and north continued without incident. There was a wonderful opening night dinner at the lodge, just three hours late. The returning guests jumped on their flight to Edmonton for a midnight snack before continuing home the next morning.
Everyone stayed safe and dry (except the pilots and ground crew) and all had a bonus—a great story. Just another week in the far north.