Farewell to Summer
In most years the seasons at Scott Lake Lodge morph into each other seamlessly: you really don’t notice the divide between summer and fall. Not so this year. There was no ambiguity on August 18th when a vicious north wind brought 50 degree temperatures and spawned huge waves that kept most guests on the island for the day. There were warnings. On August 17th, with still balmy temps, giant Vs of geese were honking their way south, leaving their summer homes on the countless thousands of tundra lakes and ponds, heading to the grain fields of southern Saskatchewan. They knew that something was cooking. They beat fall by one day. Their friends continued flying through the night and into the next day by the thousands—it was the Grand Passage with all those geese getting a free ride south. There were, of course, other signs of the change of season. Many. We have a small reef within a few hundred yards of our island home. It is home every season to a flock of 40-50 common terns. Every year they all leave on the same day. They left, every last one, a few days before the big blow. The signals were everywhere: the ground cover was slowly taking on the reddish hue of fall; loons were flocking and calling wildly for about a week, feeding heavily and preparing for their long flight to the Florida coast; a few splashes of yellow popped out as the birch leaves start their annual transformation, and the tamaracks began adding some color to the lakeshores as they shifted from nondescript green to the haunting smoky gold of fall. But summer didn’t slip away. It just ended on a single day.
WHAT A SUMMER IT WAS
Summer is short here but so sweet. And what a summer this one was. We had our share of cool, cloudy day and rainy days but we had many of those perfect sunny days that bring our pike into the shallows where sight fishing—the purest form of angling—can be experienced. Many of our big pike were spotted by guides and targeted by our guests. We never have enough of those days but we had enough to run the table on virtually all of our fishing statistics. In our last newsletter, covering the season through July 20, we reported some fantastic fishing success. In this newsletter we can report that indeed the beat did go on. The fantastic fishing did not stop; in fact, it picked up a beat or two. From July 21 to August 14 our anglers landed a total of 603 trophy fish—394 pike, 79 lake trout and 130 arctic grayling. While that’s a ton (more like four or five tons) of big fish, it doesn’t tell the whole story. We’ve always brought a lot of 40” pike, 35” lake trout and 15” arctic grayling (our trophy standards) to hand but we have never seen so many really huge pike like we have seen this year. In the past three weeks we added five pike of 47” or better to push the season’s number of 25 of these mega-pike. Last season we had 13 in that size range and last year was our best ever. We’re not breaking records. We’re blowing them away. And we’re not even mentioning all the tens of thousands of “regular” nice fish that are caught and released every season without anyone taking note except the angler at the other end of the line. It’s been an impressive season by any measurement, including the most important one—customer satisfaction.
THE ANGLERS BEHIND THE NUMBERS
These big numbers don’t create themselves. Our anglers earn them, one at a time. Anglers like Rick Spork who had a day he will never forget: he got the biggest pike of this reporting period, a 49 incher, but on the same day added a 45”,44.5”, 44” and 41.5” pike. That’s a day. Other anglers had days at the same adrenaline level. Chris Miller got five huge pike on a single day—a 47”, 45”, 44”, 43.5” and 41”. David Jansema was a guest at Scott 20 years ago, at the beginning of the current ownership’s tenure. He discovered that, other than the quality infrastructure and better food, nothing much had changed. He had a huge day with pike, getting his five pack of pike at 47”, 45”, 44”, 42.5” and 40” and upped the ante by adding a 37.5” lake trout. Then on the next day he landed a 46” pike. Yes Dave, the fishing is still good up here as it was twenty years ago, maybe better. On her first trip to Scott Lake Lodge, on a very memorable day, Beatrice Emens got a six pack of trophy pike with the biggest at 47”.
Monster pike don’t always come in packs like that. Typically, you get one fish-of-a lifetime in a lifetime. Or up here maybe once a trip. Chip Webster got his lifetime fish, a massive pike of 48.5” with a huge girth. Eleven-year-old (yes, really only eleven) Griffin Kristo landed a 48-inch monster and then added a 45 incher on his last day. He also talked his way into the guides’ weekly poker game and took the pot in Texas hold ‘em. (This kid has a future but the guides may not allow him to either fish or play poker next season. He’s making everyone look bad.) Pike of 47 inches were also taken by Jeff Ryan and Tom Jones. Many anglers hit the 46 mark: Bill Sandbrook, Sonya Boone, Jackie Fields, Betty Chadwell, Jim Borden, Ron Spork and Joe Sauger.
Pike are only part of the fishing story at Scott. There were 79 big lake trout taken in this 25 day slice of the Scott Lake Lodge season with 14 of those trout of 40” or better. These super-sized lakers were taken by eleven lucky anglers. Trout of 42” were caught by Mark Harangody, Dennis Hanggi, Jackie Fields and Arnold Alfert. Trout of 41” were taken by Joe Sauger, Beatrice Emens and Dean Jensen. Forty inchers were caught by Priscilla O’Donnell and Bob Lorber. But the clear King of Trout for this season was long time guest Mike Scheidt. He wasn’t happy with just one fish-of-a-lifetime. He needed four: a 43”, a 42”, a 40.5” and a 40” trout. Any trout near 40” is impressive. Our lake trout here are really, really fat, living the good life scooping up lake cisco and whitefish to become the equivalent of aquatic pigs, only stronger and faster.
Arctic grayling are in this game too. We had 130 over 15 inches. Wayne and Clay Parmley put on a grayling clinic, getting way too many and each getting a personal best of 19”. Alaine Emens and Ramon Clark also landed 19s. Bill Ehmann, Beatrice Emens and Dan Clark got 18s.
100+CLUB NOT SO EXCLUSIVE ANYMORE
With so many trophy grayling, it’s not surprising that the 100+Club has a lot of new members this season. Our mid to late summer period added a dozen: Jim Borden, Priscilla O’Donnell, Amy Towers, Beatrice Emens, Alaine Emens, Jackie Fields, Joe Parker, Arnold Alfret, Ramon Clark, David Jansema, Sonya Boone and Darrel Massie (who by the way had never fished before in his entire life). Getting into the Club is not easy. An angler has to catch a trophy of all three of Scott’s gamefish and the total inches of their three biggest trophies has to reach or exceed 100 inches. The math is easy (just get a 45” pike, a 40” trout and a 15” grayling for but the catching isn’t. At this juncture of the season the top gun in the Club is Joe Novicki with 108 total inches (helped a lot by his 51” pike). Rhys Reese landed at 107 inches and Bob Noble is close behind at 106.5. But there are still three groups to go and lots of big fish out there.
IS THE BEST YET TO COME?
Over the past nineteen seasons our biggest fish, especially pike and grayling, are caught during the second half of August. Will history repeat? With so many big fish already in the book: we have a total of 1,532 trophy fish, only ten under last season’s record total with fifteen fishing days to go. Can we keep the beat going? We’ll let you know in a couple of weeks. In the meantime think about your own 2017 fishing calendar. We now have a clear picture of availability for next season. We have had a record number of rebookings (guests who booked their same week, guide and cabin for the next season before they leave our island) but there are still plenty of openings throughout the season. Give our guide/sales manager Jon Wimpney an email today to lock in your fishing adventure. Be part of the 2017 story. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org The first step to your fish-of-a-lifetime is just an email away.