It’s dark and cold on the 60th parallel in February. But it’s the time when the caribou move into the Scott Lake area and fleets of snowmobiles head north to meet them. It’s time for the winter watch at Scott. This year General Manager John Gariepy, Sales Manager Jon Wimpney and former head guide Ken Johnson went north to settle in Tell Kieper, the new winter caretaker, for his long vigil. It was a good thing we decided on a winter presence this year. What they found up north will involve a lot of extra work next spring. The story from Jon Wimpney:

Report from the North:

The Uninvited Guest

“Heading north to the lodge is always amazing regardless of the season. This trip was no different. At Stony Rapids we all jumped in the Twin Otter for the twenty minute flight to the lodge. The entire landscape was covered in snow and hoarfrost-a fantastic trip. When we started circling the island Johnny noticed that some of the plywood covering the windows in the main lodge was missing. Weird I thought I remember putting them up last fall with Paul Hamilton. We checked out the main lodge right away but we were not really prepared for what we found. The interior which we cleaned perfectly last fall was pretty much trashed. A bear clawed his way in through the back kitchen door and apparently just went berserk. It looked as though he had spent days inside exploring the whole building with his mouth. He even ate a big chunk of the leather couch in front of the fireplace. He was in a a nasty mood: the custom wood blinds were busted into dozens of pieces; wood trim was ripped off the walls; tables were tipped over; a refrigerator was dragged around the kitchen; everything in the kitchen was knocked over; a commercial coffee grinder was somehow destroyed and everything even remotely edible was eaten. He left through a window but didn’t bother to open it. Just one huge mess.

And the path of destruction wasn’t finished. He ate his way through the dry storage room, consuming thousands of calories of pasta, rice and many pounds of non-perishable foodstuffs. He peeled off the metal doors to the building like he was opening a sardine can. One tough bear. The worst though was knocking off the door to the battery storage room. That allowed the heat from the batteries which get some power from the weak winter sun to escape. The batteries were nearly frozen. Even after cleaning off the solar panels we could not get any power. For two days we sat in the dark playing poker by headlamps. That got old fast so we tried to start the diesel generator-at 44 below F. It took an entire day to get it thawed out enough to start it. But we got it going and finally had power and internet.

Hard Water Trout Fishing

On the bright side fishing was pretty good. Even though it was 30 below or worse every day we were able to wet some lines. We got lake trout every time we tried. Nothing is better than fresh trout dinner at Scott in the middle of winter. There was one trout though that was way too big for the pan. I pulled a hog 42 incher through the three foot deep ice, a depth that will keep increasing as winter stretches out. Ken Johnson snapped one picture before the camera froze. There weren’t many animals moving in the deep cold. A few snowmobiles went by the lodge but the numbers were low. We had a few mild winds while we were there. Our estimate of the coldest wind chill was around 60 below. Cold! It made the runs to the outhouse pretty quick.”

Report from the South:

Great Booking Numbers

Life was much easier in Rhinelander, Wisconsin where Shirley Albrent and Michelle Pyrchalla were helping out quite a few 2013 customers with their trip planning. It has been an incredible booking season so far with deposits now approaching 400. There is no doubt that 2013 will be the best numbers we have seen at Scott since the before the Great Recession. Except for a handful of spots opened up by recent cancellations, all of June and July is booked solid.

August Openings

August always seems to get a bad rap from pike fisherman. Everyone concedes that August is a great month for big trout but a lot of anglers hold out June as the month for pike. That’s certainly true for numbers, but not for size. Last season was like most at Scott over the past 16 years. In August last season we averaged six pike over 45″ per group, twice the number in June. In just 24 days of August fishing (our closing date in 2012 was August 24th) Scott anglers landed some massive pike: thirteen at 44″; eleven at 45″; nine at 46″; two at 47″; two at 48″; one at 49″ and the monster of the year at 51″. August pike are fat and mean. Fishing for August pike takes a bit more patience but it is often rewarded with jarring strikes and extended fights. We still have openings for most of our August trips, but at the current booking pace they will not be available for long.

If You Snooze You Lose

If you want a Scott trip in 2013 give our Sales Manager, Jon Wimpney, a call ASAP. He is now fully thawed out and eager to discuss your Scott Adventure. Call him directly at 306/209-7150. He can give you all the details of the 42 inch trout. For any customer service questions call the office in Rhinelander toll free at 888/830-9525. (From outside the U.S. call 715/362-7031.)

New Video

Denny Olson who spent five days at Scott with his HD camera has just put the finishing touches on a new (it’s about time) promotional video about the Lodge. He hit a great week with both a 45″ and a 47″ pike coming to the cradle just for his camera. The 18 minute film will be available on DVD from the Rhinelander office soon but is posted now on the brand new SLL YouTube Channel.  Click here to check it out: The Scott Lake Experience