Summer 2020 Fishing Story Contest
What’s the next best thing to actually going fishing? A good fish story…
We asked our guests to provide some fuel for our lack of fishing this summer by way of a Fishing Story Contest. We had many great tales submitted from sea turtles, to cuttthoat, walleye and of course pike! Thank you to all who took the time to share what was happening at the end of your line this summer. Keep an eye out, there might be a surprise in your mail box…
So here they are, in order, the top three fishing stories of Scott Lake guests during their 2020 summer.
The winner earned a ticket for one, anywhere on the flyout map he wants to go.
Both runners up earned themselves a 1 hour massage on us next summer.
Winner: Scott Bixby, TX
7″ Brook Trout ( I have big hands)
August 16: Here’s how it started out. Struck by a wicked case of covid cabin fever in Texas, I decided to try and substitute for our annual August Scott Lake trip with a trek to Colorado.
Half-way through the 14 hour drive, the idea seemed less attractive…it’s never made sense to me why I travel a thousand miles and then bushwhack another 6, in pursuit of a creature with the brain the size of the pea, that usually outsmarts me. But I forged on.
My normal fishing rivers in these parts were desperately low and warm. The trout tend to sleep in these conditions anyway so I elected to climb to higher ground and see if I could catch all four species of trout that hang out in Colorado. I climbed up 1000 feet (okay I drove) to the Flattops Wilderness outside of Yampa, Colorado to the headwaters of the Yampa river. The natives originally called it the bear river, but that’s a longer story. Anyway, I restricted myself to dry flies only to try and catch ‘em the old fashioned way. The challenge with the section of river I chose was the density of willows, scrub and fallen timber I had to conquer to even get within casting distance of the water. I’m too old for this crap, but in for a penny, in for a pound.
After losing my water bottle and most of my patience, I arrived at the river. The water was much higher than I expected… violently foaming over boulders, and looking a lot less fishy than Google Earth had advertised.
But, I wasn’t going bail now, without at least taking a whack at it. First cast I hit some fast water with a caddis and caught this cool little guy exactly where he shouldn’t have been. I don’t know how he even saw the fly through the foam, or had the guts to rise into the torrent of surface flow for it, but that was his choice. A cute little guy and I checked the box for species one.
“It’s never made sense to me why I travel a thousand miles and then bushwhack another 6, in pursuit of a creature with the brain the size of the pea, that usually outsmarts me. But I forged on.”
Colorado River Cutthroat
Cutthroats are not the biggest trout but they are my favorite. I don’t know who designed these things but I find their cosmetics breathtaking. I took a pic on the shore to show off the full color. He’s back in the river ‘tho healthy and happy.
So species two under the belt, I searched for pools that might hold a something else. Then this guy was lured in by my miserable presentation.
Kind of a goofy looking fish with his big mouth but whatever. I caught a bunch more rainbows that day but taking photos with an Iphone by yourself is treacherous enough, and I had the proof of species 3.
So now all I needed was a brown trout. I was getting tired and the sun was getting lower in the sky and I was getting thirsty if you know what I mean. So I started the trek back down the river to my starting point, knowing full well that I was out of cell range and might be found by bow hunters in October if I messed it up.
About halfway down I found a big deep pool that I had somehow missed on the way up. I managed to tightrope along a fallen tree to about midway across the river. (I am smart enough to not wade through boulders into 4 foot deep rushing water, but not smart enough to not try and balance on a mossy log.)
I made frankly the best presentation of the day with a super dry fly across the flat, glassy eddy. Boom! Now all I had to do was somehow get this fish to my net. I hadn’t really thought about that part before the cast. I fell, but of course cared a lot less about sacrificing my health vs. losing a fish.
It wasn’t glamorous but I got him in the net.
And there he was, a nice little Brown Trout to round out the species hunt. I took a ridiculous photo perching my IPhone on some junk by the side of the river. But it’s proof nevertheless.
After a long hike back to the car, I pulled off my waders and boots, and took down my rod tossing them into the back of the car a lot less carefully than I had that morning when I left the house.
I was tired but content, and pretty proud of myself for wrangling all four species. Then I grinned looking down looking at the logo on the fishing shirt I had chosen for that day.
So that’s the story. No trophys…but a great day in the wilderness doing what I love.
The only thing that was missing was the comradery of Poacher & Curtis, and all of you at Scott Lake Lodge.
And a healthy serving of Super Chips.
Runner Up: Amy Blackstone, SD
West Slope Cutthroat Trout
Caught on the fly
Even though we watched the news to see when the boarder might open and texted constantly to find out what everyone’s heard… ultimately, COVID put a halt to our fishing trip to Scott Lake Lodge. This was such sad news… hadn’t we been good for the past 3 months? Didn’t we use our hand sanitizer enough? Did we not hoard enough toilet paper???? To have my favorite trip forbidden truly felt like a punch in the stomach. You see, I love to fish. Not just fish, but to spend time outdoors, with good friends, on the water and in the lodge, toasting the trophies of the day and drooling over some good ‘ol fish porn.
When we go fishing, Jim always fly fishes and I tend to use a spinner or bait caster. I’ve tried fly fishing but just haven’t had the time to truly work on it. Well guess what? We’ve sure got the time now!
Traditionally, we celebrate my June Birthday at Scott Lake. This year, we were with friends at a lake and Jim showered me with all the gifts a girl could want…. waders, wading boots, tackle and the promise to indoctrinate me into the addiction otherwise known as fly-fishing.
So, over the fourth of July we drove 12 hours to Missoula Montana (still social distancing) packing lunches and sleeping in the truck, all so we could float the Bitterroot river and I could fly fish for trout!
Just being able to float and enjoy the beautiful outdoors was rejuvenating, but to also gain a skill that I’ve only watched others do made this time so much more meaningful.
We were at Kelly Creek, Idaho (from the movie, A River Runs Through It); when it happened; Wading in the fast waters, casting, a perfect loop, the remote gorgeous setting and watching a big west slope cutthroat trout take the fly. Everything at the moment came together.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot to learn, but after fooling some cutthroats I know the grayling stand no chance and I’ll resolve to catch at least one trophy pike on the fly if Jim will let me use the front of the boat…a matter that is still under negotiation.
Thank goodness Jim has the patience to deal with this left-handed, determined angler.
Runner Up: Valarie Strobel, FL
My mom and I have never fished before we got invited to go to Scott Lake a few years ago by my dad. Yet, my mom somehow made it to the 100 club before anyone else in our family. Therefore, us girls believed we could tackle this sport and that’s when we found ourselves floating down the Gunnison River in Colorado fly fishing. Our guide was not nearly as funny as the guides we’ve had in Canada (shoutout to Biff), but he would do.
Before we jumped into the raft for our float trip down the river the guide asked if we had ever fly fished before, the answer was no, and it was met with complete silence. Pretty awkward if you ask me, but we had to reassure him we knew how to fish, and I even showed off some pictures of our Northern Pike and Lake Trout.
When people say fly fishing takes time and patience they’re not lying. About halfway through our four-hour reserved time we had yet to catch anything. It was cold and rainy and nonstop casting that our hands were cramping badly. Yet, there was no time for a break because we were on a mission of trying to catch rainbow and brown trout.
Losing hope by the minute and after a few castings gone wrong (like when my mom hooked the guide in his hat) I finally was able to hook the fish and reel in the most beautiful rainbow trout. Gleaming with joy I couldn’t believe I had finally caught a trout on a fly. In that moment I could feel the high of fishing (and it wasn’t just because I was in Colorado).
The next two hours passed quickly and there were many trout caught that I felt I was now a pro angler (or at least better than my dad and brother at fly fishing). This past week was when my family and I were supposed to be in Canada, but not everything can go according to plan. That’s when my mom and I had the opportunity to go fish in Colorado we took it because we needed our dose of fishing for the year. This will hopefully hold us over for a bit until we find our way back to Scott Lake next year.