From winter to summer in the span of seven hours
By Don Quilici
Only in the wild, wacky weather of Nevada can one go from winter to summer in the span of seven hours. We did, last Saturday, and were completely dazzled in the process.
A group of nine, hardy individuals had traveled to Wildhorse Reservoir, located way up north in Northeastern Nevada.
It was our third annual ice fishing trek to that location and it was a trip that all of us will remember for a long, long time.
The group was Norm Budden (AKA Cheater No. 1), Jack Cooke, Mark Day, Don Hettrick, Karl Horeis, Bob “Slick” McCulloch (AKA Cheater No. 2), Scott Mattheus, Don Reasons and yours truly.
Six anglers left Carson City at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 3, Don Reasons and I left at about 9:30 and Karl brought up the rear at about 3:30-4 p.m.
The long, 364-mile trip was uneventful but the weather gradually changed from sunny to very heavy overcast and windy.
However, unknown to us, it was an omen of things to come.
If you plan to travel to Wildhorse in the near future, be advised that unleaded gas in Winnemucca is $2.05 per gallon, in Elko it’s $1.89 and at the Wildhorse Resort, it’s a mind-boggling $2.85 per gallon. And, by way of comparison, about two weeks ago, while Elaine and I were in Denver, Colorado, we filled up our vehicle at $1.46 per gallon. Yep, $1.46!
At Wildhorse, the first six in our group (Budden, Cooke, Day, Hettrick, McCulloch and Mattheus) arrived at about noon, checked in and immediately went out ice fishing for the rest of the day.
Remember that particular point for later in this column because this activity led to a lot of loud arguing and arm waving, later, between the Good Guy (AKA Donnie Q) and the two Cheaters.
Reasons and I arrived at about 4:15 p.m. and the two of us spent some quality time visiting (and drinking Manhattans!) at the bar with Dennis Dunn, the owner of the resort.
Everyone (except Horeis) met at the restaurant at 6:30 p.m., insulted one another, had several drinks, ate a quick dinner, and went to bed early, so as to be off by 6 a.m. for a day of ice fishing.
Horeis finally showed up at about 10:30, as the last arrival.
The next morning, the sky was overcast, the nearby mountains were shrouded by dark, snow clouds and there was a bitter cold wind blowing.
The nine of us had a quick cup of coffee and then drove down to the Nevada State Park, which is the only plowed access to the reservoir in the wintertime.
Andrew Bass, the park supervisor, keeps that access road, the boat ramp parking area, the boat ramp and a portion of the beach below the ramp plowed for all of the ice fishermen.
He also checks to see that each vehicle has its proper State Park parking permit, so if you park there, be sure to be legal.
We parked on the beach, loaded all of our fishing rods and reels, fishing equipment, ice auger, bait, extra clothing, food, drinks and camera gear on three sleds, and then slowly trudged far out on the ice to our first fishing location.
Our gas-operated auger made quick work of cutting a number of holes in the three-foot thick ice and then the fun began. Everyone was having a ball, catching countless Perch (there is no limit on the Perch) and an occasional rainbow trout.
We fished with small, white-colored, lead-head, jigs with a plastic tail, together with a tiny piece of worm, mealworm or cocktail shrimp on the hook.
We would drop that combination down to the bottom, bring it up about 1-2 turns on the reel handle and slowly jig, up and down. On almost every try, you would get a bite or a fish.
Unfortunately, this year, the vast majority of the fish were very small Perch that were only about 3-5 inches long. We caught hundreds of them.
The fishing was hot and heavy and then the snow came.
Within minutes, we were in the middle of a full-fledged blizzard, complete with heavy snow and a strong crosswind. Visibility went to zero and it looked like a scene from the High Arctic.
We toughed it out until about 2 p.m., said to heck with it, packed up our stuff, plodded back to our vehicles, and returned to the resort.
Back at the resort, the fishermen gathered around an outdoor, picnic table and filleted the fish that had been kept.
They did it in a heavy wet snowfall but apparently the weather didn’t seem to bother them. Hmmm, perhaps it went unnoticed because of the number of cocktails (Manhattans and Picon Punches) that everyone was drinking.
That night, we had a very tasty, three-taco dinner, complete with all the trimmings, prepared by Yolanda Reyes, the new cook at the resort. She cooks excellent Mexican food and told us that she is slowly learning how to cook American. In our less -than-humble opinion, she is a GREAT cook, complete with a warm, friendly and pleasant personality.
Friday, was a carbon-copy of Thursday, except for two exceptions, Horeis had to leave and the weather was great.
It was bright and sunny (most of the day) with that same bitter cold wind.
Everyone got badly sunburned (windburned?) but never noticed because of the great fishing.
At the end of that day, the cash prize for our two-day fishing derby for the longest trout went to Mattheus for his 17-inch rainbow trout.
Budden (Cheater No. 1), loudly backed up by his partner in crime (Cheater No 2) claimed a tie with Hettrick for the longest Perch (12 inches).
I accused the two of them of being low-life cheaters because Budden’s Perch was actually caught on Wednesday and not during the two-day derby.
They both laughed, snickered and said that Budden was a co-winner because they had six votes in their pocket and I only had two votes (mine and Reasons).
So, unfortunately, once again, Budden was a tainted winner.
You be the judge of who is the Good Guy and which two individuals will stoop to anything to harass Donnie Q.
I could almost learn to hate those two guys but they do furnish me with all kinds of material for my columns.
On Saturday morning, we woke up, under white-out, blizzard conditions.
When we left at about 5:15 a.m. for the long drive home, there was no traffic on the highway, visibility was zero, the wind was howling and there was at least six inches of snow on the highway. I was driving at about 20 miles per hour and having difficulty seeing where I was going.
As we slowly drove toward Elko, our elevation began to drop and by the time we were near the Tuscarora Junction, we had dropped down out of the storm. We were out of the blizzard! When we reached Elko, the weather was warmer and partly overcast with no wind.
Most impressively, when we arrived in Carson City, shortly after noon, the weather was fabulous, the temperature was about 65 degrees, people were driving in convertibles with the tops down, there were people watering their lawns and working in their yards.
Geez, only in the wild, wacky weather of Nevada can one go from winter to summer in the span of seven hours.
– Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you what Mattheus did the day after we returned from our ice fishing trip to.
If he grins and says, “On Sunday morning, Scott and his wife Evelyn, left for a one-week vacation trip to Hawaii,” he could be a close friend of theirs.
Hmmm, I wonder how Scott explained his badly sunburned face from the glare off the ice to those other folks, sunning themselves on the beach.