Rich, TJ and Mike left Salt Lake City at 5pm Friday night and headed west on I-80 to Montello Nevada. After an 1 ½ hour drive we stopped at the Salt Flats Café on the outskirts of Wendover to have some dinner. It’s an interesting little restaurant that serves Mexican food and breakfast. I’ll have to say it wasn’t half bad. After dinner we gassed up (no pun intended) and headed to Montello. We arrived at the Pilot motel in Montello—Allen likes to call it the Montello Hilton—and checked into our rooms. It is $40/night for single and $50 for a double. The rooms are decked out in a rustic wood décor fit for us rednecks. The rooms are clean and cozy, but nothing special. They sport an avocado green tub that clashes beautifully with white fixtures and wood finishes. The towels are postage stamp size, but luckily I had 6 or 8 of them. The rooms also has a microwave, mini-fridge and a small desk for tying flies. The heater eventually warmed the room to a pleasant temperature.
We woke the next morning at 6:30 am Utah time —which is 5:30 am Nevada time— to get ready and head out to the lake. I gave Rob a call to see when he and Wiley would arrive and he said to expect them around 9:30 am. The Cowboy Bar doesn’t open until 7am so we skipped breakfast and headed up to the lake. It’s a short 18 mile gravel road trip to the lake from Montello.
It was overcast and a bit windy and about 31 degrees. We parked up on the dam, had our usual conversation with Allen —discussing how many trout he planted yesterday and how big of fish Herb caught last week— rigged our rods and headed off with eager anticipation and dreams of giant trout in our nets. As we walked along the dam we could see a few large fish cruising along the edges. It’s really hard not to stop and cast to every fish you see, but we can always come back to these fish later. There were a few people on the lake already, but we could still find plenty of spots to fish. We spread out along the east side and tried our luck. I always like to start with a streamer and black seems to be the successful color lately. I netted one on a black bugger and 3 others on glo-bugs (chartreuse was the best color) and an ice cream cone. Tom, Rob and Wylie arrived around 9:30 am and joined us on the east side. By then the wind had picked up and the bank we were fishing was getting a bit murky from the waves pounding the shore. No one else had had any success yet so we made sure everyone was rigged up right and gave a few pointers on technique. Soon everyone was into some fish and having a great time. TJ and Tom caught their first Crittenden fish and were all smiles. Once they got the first one out of the way they were off and running. These fish are not easy to hook and land especially in the conditions we had. Plan on losing a few fish to break offs, straightened hooks and just plain bad luck. We fished 6-9 weight rods with streamers, globugs, pheasant tails, Chironomid patterns, san juan worms, scuds and other various nymphs. You need to fish at least 3x tippet to minimize the break offs and check your line for abrasions and bad knots frequently. Most of the fish we were catching were in the 21-23 in. range and extremely obese. These fish are footballs and they fight hard. We landed a few in the 24-25 in. class, but not any of the really big ones this trip.
Later in the day we went back to the southwest corner and dinged a few more and then called it a day. Everyone caught fish and had a great time. Rob and Wylie headed home and the rest of us hit the Cowboy Bar in Montello for dinner. They were having a Tastefully Simple tasting party so the kitchen was down for a bit. They said they could do pizza, but the grill wasn’t running yet. Tom and I ordered pizza and Rich and TJ waited for the grill to open. Word of caution, next time wait for the grill to open, the pizza sucked.
Tom took off for home and the rest of us stayed another night. The weather was supposed to improve for Sunday so we were hoping for an even better day. I was able to watch the second half of the Kentucky vs. Wisconsin NCAA final four game. What a game. A spectacular ending, setting up an improbable final match-up between Kentucky and Connecticut.
Once again we woke up around 6:30 am Utah time, well everyone but Rich. I think he was stalling because he wanted breakfast this time. We got all wadered up and packed the car and headed over to the Cowboy Bar for breakfast. We ran into Allen there and got to hear all his amazing stories, again, while we had a good hearty breakfast. We headed up to the lake and everything seemed like it was going to be a perfect day and five minutes later the wind started howling and the rain started falling. Rich staked his spot out in the southwest corner and started catching fish. I think this was going to be Rich’s day. TJ and I started making our way around the lake and it was pretty tough going for both of us. I managed a few including a 25” beauty. TJ finally found some success too. Later in the afternoon we headed back to join Rich. We all got a few more and called it a trip. We had a great time and it was fun to have our newest member TJ join in the festivities. See you next month for the Jones Hole trip.