The Scott Lake Lodge fishing team has pushed the 2014 season just past the mid-field mark. The first half has featured incredible action on the field of play. In the eighteen years of current ownership there has never been a first half with so much scoring: there has been an abundance of big fish and naturally many happy anglers. It has been an exciting game since June 10th, the day the ball was put into play. When the first group of anglers looked down at the island in the middle of Scott Lake late on that afternoon they were greeted with an unusual sight for the opening of the lodge-nothing but white as far as they could see. The white was not whitecaps. It was ice. The breakup this spring was quite unusual. In late May it was proceeding well with lots of hot days and some heavy rains. Things were looking great for an early staff arrival. There was no thought or worries about opening on time. Around June first though the temps dropped to below freezing and the big melt came to a halt. The Scott Lake management team bet on the sun to return in time. It almost did. On opening day it was hot but Scott Lake was still 90% ice covered. But where there is a will there is always a way at Scott Lake Lodge. Fortunately most of Scott Lake Lodge’s dozen fly out lakes were open and ready for the June 10th kickoff. GQD, our classic 1959 De Havilland Beaver and its younger and bigger cousin, a 1962 Turbo Otter were quite busy for those first five days. And the intense subarctic sun had returned bringing temperatures into the low 90s. It was a classic fire and ice story and the fire was winning by the hour. Everyone went fishing every day during those first five days of the season. The pike could not have been happier to play the game. On the first day alone thirty-seven trophy pike were landed. And it just kept getting better on the fishing front and the ice gave up the ghost by the end of that first week. Scott Lake was open for business.
For twenty-five consecutive days the conditions were idyllic: the skies were blue, not a drop of rain fell, the wind was mild from the south and that big ball of fire just kept pushing the pike of Scott Lake and all the fly out lakes into the shallow silt filled bays. It was an unbelievably perfect scenario: the late ice out had kept the main lake temperatures very cool, in the 50s for most of June, while the heat wave warmed the shallows to the high 60s and low 70s temperatures. That dramatic temperature differential just drove the pike wild-it was perfect. They could not get enough of that warm shallow water where it’s relatively easy to find them. The heat wave produced the best pike fishing in the history of the lodge, driving the trophy counts to all time highs. Between June 10th and June 30th a total of 530 pike of trophy size (40″ or better) were tallied, a daily average of 26 per day. There were a lot of smiling faces on the nightly “fish du jour” show on the big screen at the lodge. So it went for the first five groups at the lodge, right into the first week of July. There was even one monster trout thrown into the mix, an extremely girthy 43.5″ laker landed by Steve Bandt less than a hundred yards off our island. The trout of Scott Lake also give Bill Calabresa an angling thrill, kicking out beauties of 40, 41 and 42 inches. But every bubble eventually bursts and so did this one. Our sixth group at the lodge on July 5th was greeted with a big north wind and much cooler temperatures. The fishing slowed down as the cold temps pushed the pike out of the shallows into the now warmer main lake where they were simply harder to find. Instead of flip flops, T-shirts and shorts, our anglers were wearing boots, down coats and rain bibs. They were in the penalty box (hockey metaphors are important in Canada). That vicious cold front lasted eight days and gave our customers that “I should have been here last week” feeling. But that’s fishing. It’s always been about weather and the luck of being in the right place at the right time. After those nasty eight days the heat returned and so did the fish. The game was on again: the fishing and the catching were, well, normal-a couple of sunny days (lots of fish) and then some clouds and rain (fewer fish). It was fishing. And it was pretty darn good again. The trophy numbers just kept rolling along though mid and late July.
At the fifty yard line the first half stats are just amazing. Through July 25th a total of 931 trophies have been recorded. In all of 2013, a very good season, the total trophy count reached 1,276. With 787 northern pike trophies we have already exceeded the 771 pike trophies of the entire 2013 season. With steady fishing continuing, the 2014 trophy production is clearly headed for an all time record. Numbers aren’t very exciting but the people and the emotion behind those numbers are quite exciting. Just talk to some of the people who have experienced this fishing frenzy. We have had some incredible days over the past six weeks. Epic pike fishing days like the one where long time Scott guests Mike Borden and Steve Bandt (aka “Big Dog”) brought in nineteen trophy pike between them. We’ve had lots of those big days: Keith and Peg Burns with ten pike trophies in a single day; Jim and Al Willimason with ten; Dan Myers and Mike Rogers with nine; Scott Nelson and Tony Winczweski with eleven; Joe Novicki and Bill Calabresa with nine (plus four grayling trophies); Conrad and Dave Paulus with nine; Frank McNally and Tom Kehoe with ten; Mark and Foster Graf with eleven; Kevin Denny with seven as a solo act, and Ken and Dave Thome with seven without moving the boat on Premier Lake, a lake connected to Scott Lake. There have been an extraordinary number of “super-sized” pike, a term we use for pike of 45″ or better, true fish of a lifetime. Dave Worth and his son Tim teamed up for a day to remember. Tim landed seven trophy pike but dad caught the TD pass when he boated his personal best pike-a monster of 48″. There have been many absolutely huge fish in the first half of the season. Jason Lukert landed a 48. Jeff Hamilton got a 47.5″; Whitney Meyers, a 47″. And just yesterday, Greg Frimel got his biggest pike ever, a fat 47 incher. Scott anglers have taken so many 45s and 46s that it would fill your computer screen many times over. The numbers of big fish just scream off the screen: 58 pike over 45″ and 31 over 46″, compared to 2013 full season totals of 62 for pike over 45″ and 31 over 46″. That’s a lot of huge fish.
These great numbers reflect an exciting first half of the season, one with the home team way ahead. It was not a stretch of time without some operational struggles: the walk-in refrigerator needed emergency repairs; the commercial oven in the kitchen required a trip from the repair guy who like the refrigerator guy lives 550 miles away; one changeover was delayed a day due to a violent storm, and the usual maintenance issues of keeping 40 outboard motors running well–all reminders of how challenging running a resort in a remote setting can be. Looking toward the second half of this game we are expecting a lot more playing time from the lake trout and grayling of our lakes and rivers. Trout season has been late in kicking off this year; the big trout are just starting to show up in their deep summer holes and the Scott guides are pulling out their play books to bring these freshwater tunas into the stats. And the arctic grayling will get in the game as well. This season started with very high and fast water in the rivers where the grayling live, making fishing for them difficult. There time is now at hand. Stay tuned for the second half of this wonderful game. There are lots of stories ahead.