It happened suddenly on the fourth day of this group. Fall fishing arrived. It’s not the fall on the calendar which is still a long way off, but it was the first feeling of fall. Maybe it was the slant of the light, just a little lower. Maybe the cool slap in the face of the morning air or just the crisp edge even a sunny day. Or was it the terns? Just a couple of hundred yards north of our island on the 60th parallel there is an exposed reef where a colony of terns has nested for as long as anyone can remember, probably hundreds of years. The come, about 60 strong, every year, arriving right after ice out. On Day 4 of Week 12 they made the big decision: they were heading south. On Day 3 there they were, noisy and agitated always, flying around any boat that gets too close, adding a little excitement to the day. On Day 4 the reef was empty; they were gone, not a feather to be seen on the rocks. First day of fall, for sure. One more signpost for fall—the first northern lights viewing of the season. While the lights were a bit ephemeral, they were still impressive, a preview of the more sustained and dramatic shows ahead.

Early Fall Fishing

So, how’s early fall fishing? Pretty damn good! Our early August anglers hit it hard, on cool, cloudy, sunny days. It didn’t matter: they fished and fished hard, pitching their offerings eight or nine hours a day. And many of those offerings were well received. The trophy count was right in line with the last several weeks—120 with a nice mix of pike, lake trout and grayling. That number included some dandies. The lake trout were in the spotlight again. Everyone gets excited about big trout—they are the ultimate freshwater predator. Whatever prey they want, they get. Some were fooled by shinny imitators. Bret Walker convinced a huge 43.5” laker that his spoon was really a whitefish. It was our biggest of the week but not by much. Nick Degaetani was right behind with a fat 43. Jim Tallman got a 40 as did Doug Abraham who added a 39 to his troutfest. Priscilla O’Donnell just missed the supersized mark with a 39.5” laker.

Northern Pike Fishing

Most anglers at Scott Lake Lodge are here for the northern pike fishing and it did not disappoint. There is an adrenaline rush when a hefty pike smashes into your fly or lure at lightning speeds that just can’t be matched. Pike don’t have the stamina of lake trout, but they know how to put on a show. Like with the lake trout top spot, it was Bret Walker who pulled the longest tape with pike, a 46.5” dandy. The pike parade was a long one. Dave O’Donnell landed a 46 along with a 45. The father/son team of Jim and Nick Tallman had quite a day, landing clones—a pair of pike each exactly 45.5 inches. And Jim got another 45.5” pike a couple of days later. Must be his favorite number now. A number of guests hit the 44- inch mark: Dave Wanderer, Randy Northcutt, Kathy Scott, Todd Kalish, Ryan Robbins and Chris Budeski. For fishing lodges to the south of Scott a week like this one would represent an entire season of big pike. Just another week here.

Grayling Trophies

Some big arctic grayling trophies were in play too. Jeff Towers and Ryan Rich almost got 20-inchers, a rarely seen number here. But they were quite happy with their 19.5” beauties. Nick Degaetani and Ryan Robbins pulled 19s out of the rapids and Nick Tallman supersized at 18”. You know what’s next. With all those big graylings, there had to be some hats and jackets earned. Indeed. We had plenty this week. The Trophy Triple hat was placed on the heads of Nick Tallman, Priscilla O’Donnell, Amy Towers, Jim Tallman and Nick Degaetani with the final three in this list upgrading to the 100+Club jacket. Nick had a big number at 106 total inches, putting him in third place for the season behind Kim Brown’s 106 and Mark Graf’s hard-to-beat 108.5”. But Nick did something no one else has done here: he got the QUAD, adding a lake whitefish, a 15-incher, to his trophy total. Whitefish are a wonderful gamefish but quite elusive. The QUAD has been done only a few times.
So early fall sounds pretty good. Add the typical great customer service, the solitude that guaranteed on our lakes, the elegant dinners and a moose and muskox sighting or two and you have a perfect week in the far north. See you next year.