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.