The 2014 season ended as it began, with an absolutely perfect sunny day. There were differences of course. In June it was really hot but there were vast areas of ice. In September it was pleasantly cool with the sharp, crisp edge of fall and only ice in the evening cocktails. At these bookends of the season the same things happened: lots of fish were landed, great shore lunches were enjoyed and anglers told their tales over a splendid dinner. Let’s be clear though. Here on the 60th parallel it was fall, not late summer, when the final group of guests threw their last casts on September 3rd. There were many perfect days over the last two weeks (three groups) of the season and there were some real ugly days. It’s all part of the fall fishing experience.
There were of course the feisty, fat, fighting fish of fall. As suggested in the previous update, the last two weeks of the season did bring the big fish to the boat. Fall fish, especially the pike, have to be fought and held to really appreciate how much these fish bulk up for the relatively dormant winter season ahead. They are fat, plain and simple. Pike with girths of 15 to 20 inches were the norm not the exception at the tail end of the season. Some even looked a little ridiculous, like they were in desperate need of a Weight Watchers program. One such fish was a 47.5 inch pike landed by Todd Hogan with a measured 20 inch girth, one of the heaviest fish of the season. Take out a tape measure and create a circle at the 20 inch mark. Now imagine a fish within that circle– that is one fat fish. A lot of the trophy pike (pike of 40” or greater) caught between August 19th and the closing day of September 3rd had girths of 17 or 18 inches. And these fish didn’t allow their ample waistlines to slow them down. The fish of fall know how to put up a good fight. They have been out hunting down big prey, mostly whitefish and burbot, putting on some weight for the long winter ahead. They have a lot of energy. These fish do not do two or three head shakes and swim toward the net: these fish of fall take repeated runs with screaming drags and know all the tricks like running toward the boat and making desperation dives under the boat which is a tricky maneuver for the angler to counter. They fight to the finish. Some are landed. Some are not.
One fight that had a successful conclusion for the angler came at the end of Peter Myhre’s line. His spinner made a couple of turns and his rod buckled: he knew immediately that this was a big fish. There were many breathless moments and heart stopping twists and turns before his guide got the cradle (a type of landing net without the long handle) under a very big fish. It measured 48.5”, the biggest pike of the season caught in the afternoon of the final day of the season. Just like in the playbook: you can’t make stuff like that up. Fall fishing does deliver big fish. Angling thrills like Peter’s were not uncommon during the final 15 days of the 2014 season. The big pike were on the move and quite a few of these supersized hogs ended up hunting down spinners, plastic lures or flies instead of whitefish, cisco or burbot. Since August 19th fifteen supersized pike, a very impressive one per day, made it to the big screen at the dinner hour’s fish du jour show. Peter Myhre added a 46.5, a 45.5 and two 45 inch pike to his haul for his extended fall stay, an amazing run of big fish. In addition to the big 47 caught by Todd Hogan, two other 47s, one caught by Joe Novicik and one by Robert Sotak, were landed over the last 15 days. Lodge Office Manager, Jordan Fryia, had one fly out day this season and made the best of it, getting a 46 incher. Fishing partners Connie Schmidt and Cliff Smith had a memorable day when both got 45.5” pike. Fat 45s were taken by Nick Manship, Tom Olson, and Tosh Craig. It was quite a pike parade. Fishing in late August and early September is quite different from the fishing of June and July. It requires more patience. Unlike early season which involves sight fishing the shallow bays and hunting down big fish, the late season features more blind casting in deeper water, generally five to twenty feet. There are more cranks per fish. But the big fish are worth the wait. It is anticipatory fishing where the hits are like linebackers leveling a halfback, but you never see it coming. It’s addictive.
Big lake trout did not get cut out of the action at the season’s end. A lot of trophy trout were caught including a half dozen supersized (over 40”) lake trout. Steve Schiltz and Rob Spencer had 41” lakers. Bill Shuneman, Mark Demyen, Steve Yarborough and Joe Daugherty all had the thrill of hanging onto the burning runs of angry lake trout at the 40” mark. As any angler who has experienced getting big lake trout knows, there is no fresh water fish with more fighting stamina than lakers. The angler doesn’t see the showy take like that of the northern pike but they feel a jarring hit. Next is the fun part: three or four long, high speed runs to the bottom after the angler has worked hard to bring them up near the surface. The lake trout is the fastest fish by far of the northern waters. They simply run down their prey. They truly are like freshwater tuna. Many consider the lake trout the real king of the northern fishery.
Grayling do not do blistering runs but they are a beautiful fish that punches heavy for its size. There were not many grayling anglers at the end of the season this year but those who gave it a shot were rewarded with great light tackle fights and the satisfaction of getting in the small rivers that connect the lakes in this part of the world. It’s a one with the fish experience. Mary and Joe Daugherty had a couple of cracks at grayling fishing and loved the tranquility of this type of fishing. Mary Daugherty landed the biggest grayling of the season at 19” and had several more of 17 and 18. Joe Daugherty got an 18 and several 17s as did Joe Novicki. Judy Novicki on her first grayling try got a 17.5 inch grayling. Matt Spencer and Steve Yarborough both wet a line for the miniature sailfish of the north and both connected with many including 17 inchers. Fishing for grayling is a wonderful complement or counterpoint to the tackle busting fights of big lake trout or pike.
Numbers do tell part of the ending of Scott Lake Lodge’s 2014 season, but certainly not the whole story. No one tried to count the countless numbers of geese or loons that passed over Scott over the final two weeks. How could one put a number on the powerful experience of watching the northern lights? The annual fall light show came on a bit later in the evenings than in other years, but those willing to stay up until one in the morning were rewarded with several incredible displays. Even the unsettled weather added to the emotion of the season. Late August is a time of change in the north: it brings its own excitement. Storms, low clouds, fog are all elements of the drama along with the smoky gold of the tamarack trees and the yellow of the birch. It’s a wonderful time to experience the north country. Warning: Sales Pitch Coming. . . So, if this kind of trip sounds interesting and you’re willing to bring boots instead of sandals give our intrepid guide/sales manager Jon Wimpney a call at 306/209-7150 or email him at email@example.com Jon retreated back to Saskatoon on the last charter flight of the season to be near his phone again, ready to bring the Scott Lake Experience to willing adventurers. Now the post season starts with a major construction project (a new staff dorm) and all the normal shut the place down work which in our expanded fly-out lake network includes a lot of flying. And maybe just a little more fishing. Stay tuned.