Unforgettable ice fishing in Northeastern Nevada

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The four were yours truly, Norm Budden, Marty Martinez and Bob "Slick" McCulloch, all of Carson City.

Our fishing destination was Wildhorse Reservoir, way up in Northeastern Nevada. That popular reservoir is located 64 miles north of Elko. It is only about 15 miles south of Mountain City, which is on the Nevada-Idaho stateline.

The four of us had never ice-fished together before, anywhere or anytime. So, all four were eagerly anticipating this long-awaited adventure and were certainly not disappointed with the outcome.

However, the first day of our trip left us wondering just what in the heck was happening to us, this time.

Two pickups left Carson City, early last Wednesday morning, for the long drive to the Wildhorse Resort where there were room reservations for Wednesday-Friday nights.

Before even reaching Silver Springs, the wind had begun to blow with very strong gusts.

At Fernley, we got on the freeway (I-80) and began the drive toward Winnemucca. The wind was blowing harder and harder and the sky was becoming more and more ominously overcast with heavy, dark clouds.

We stopped in Winnemucca, gassed up, ate breakfast and continued on our way as the weather deteriorated.

At Battle Mountain, there was a drenching rainstorm with the high wind still blowing.

At Emigrant Summit, there were heavy heavy snow flurries and our ice-fishing trip was not looking very good at that point.

In Elko, we quickly gassed up, bought some "munchies" for our rooms and began the final 64 mile section to Wildhorse.

At Adobe Summit, just out of Elko, there was a dense fog that brought our speed down to about 25 miles per hour.

Once out of the fog, you were in a stark, snow-covered landscape under very dark, low-hanging clouds. A few miles out of Wildhorse, a power crew was working on a power pole that had all of its lines down.

We finally reached the Wildhorse Resort about mid-afternoon and went inside to check in.

Once inside, they informed that the Wildhorse area had been without electricity for about 20 hours due to that downed power pole.

The folks at the resort thought, but were not sure, that the power might be back on by about 5 p.m.

While debating whether to return to Elko for the night or to stay at the resort (without electricity), we took a drive to check out the reservoir to see where we might want to fish if the decision were made to stay.

At a location, next to the highway, close to where a hot water creek enters the reservoir, there was a large hole in the ice. There were also lots of torn-up snow, all kinds of footprints and vehicle tracks.

On our arrival back to the resort, the power was back on and everything was working normally.

Yahoo! Our fishing trip was back on.

Someone asked about the hole in the ice and was told that some dummy in a pickup had driven out on the ice and broke through. Fortunately the water was not that deep and they managed to drag the truck out by use of a large and expensive tow truck.

The four of us checked into our rooms, went back to the restaurant, had some cocktails, ate dinner and turned in to get an early start Thursday morning.

Everyone got up early, ate breakfast and we borrowed a gas-operated, ice auger from Dennis Dunn, the owner of the Wildhorse Resort.

Then, Steve Epling of the resort took us to a spot which he believed would produce lots of fish. That spot was directly in front of the Native American Campground boat ramp. We parked our vehicles and carried all of our clothing, fishing equipment, tackle boxes, bait, auger, video camera, etc. out onto the ice.

Norm selected a spot, cranked up the auger and in just several minutes had a number of holes dug in the three-foot thick ice.

All of us rigged up our tiny, ice-fishing poles with either No. 6 or No. 8 hooks. Then we put a small, white, plastic jig on each hook and covered the hook tip with a small piece of mealworm. As it turned out, that was a dynamite combination.

Everyone lowered his jig into a hole, dropped it to the bottom and brought it up off the bottom with about 1-2 turns of the reel handle.

Within just a few minutes: BAM!

One of the anglers (Norm) had caught the first perch of the day and it was the start of some unbelievable fishing.

By the time we quit, at about 3 p.m., the four of us had caught and kept 109 perch and three small rainbow trout. 109 perch! In addition, about another dozen fish were turned loose that were too small.

It was a blast.

We drove back to the resort and set up an assembly line to fillet all of those fish. Here's how that went:

Marty would take some fish out of the sack and then goof off until it was time to put fish remains in a large, plastic, garbage sack.

Norm would cut the two sides off of each fish.

Slick would carefully fillet each of the individual sides.

I would wash off each fillet, place it in a clean basin and keep everyone supplied with cocktails.

Then when all of the fillets were finished, they were vacuumed sealed and frozen in the freezer.

Everyone got cleaned up, went to the restaurant for more cocktails, ate a quick dinner, returned to the rooms and crashed for the night.

Friday, it was the same routine, all over again: Get up early, eat breakfast, drive to the campground, walk out onto the ice, dig some holes and catch all kinds of fish.

The weather on both days was absolutely fabulous. It was shirt-sleeve weather!

In fact, all four of us got very badly sunburned from the intense glare off the pure-white snow and ice.

By the time we finally quit fishing about 2:30 p.m. on Friday, "the four amigos" had caught just as many fish as the previous day. True!

However, this time, the anglers were much wiser. We only kept the larger perch for the tedious, filleting process back at the resort.

So, instead of being faced with filleting more than 100 perch, we only had to worry about 50 of them.

Oh and by the way, before you ask, "No, I did not win my bet on fishing." And to be a big brat, I won't tell you who did. But I will get even with those three cheaters!

It was a great, overall fishing experience and we definitely will be going back to Wildhorse Reservoir.

Heck, anytime, you can catch more than 100 fish in a day, it has to be great. That's a fact, Jack!

If you, too, would like to experience that type of outstanding ice fishing, then give Dennis a call at the Wildhorse Resort at (775) 758-6472.

That way, you can enjoy your own successful ice fishing trip in the very near future.

Just be sure to take lots of sunscreen and wear a hat.

-- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you if we got checked on this trip by game wardens from the Nevada Division of Wildlife.

If he grins, grabs your money and says, "Yes, the fishermen were checked on Friday morning," you lose.


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