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Record rainbow
This photo provided by Mike Mott shows him holding his record rainbow trout caught recently out of the collection ditch at Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The trout weighs 16 pounds, 8 ounces. Mott caught it on a fly rod with a stonefly nymph he tied.


ELKO — While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to catch a fish, it obviously helps to break a 39-year-old state record for the largest rainbow trout ever caught in Nevada.

Elko angler Mike Mott— who really has worked as a rocket scientist — caught the 16-pound, 8-ounce behemoth on Feb.10 at Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. It measures 301⁄2 inches long. Its girth, according to Mott, is about 20 inches.

The previous record, caught by Mike Soskin at Lake Mohave on Dec. 16, 1971, weighed 16 pounds, 4 ounces and measured 311⁄2 inches long. The record goes by weight, and Mott’s fish beats the old record by 4 ounces.

“I was fishing a stonefly nymph under a floating line in the oxbow behind the Gallagher Fish Hatchery, when I felt a tug,” said Mott in a recent interview. 

“At first I thought I had a snag, but once I started stripping in the line I knew it was going to be fun.”

This isn’t the first big fish Mot has caught in the collection ditch at the refuge, having caught a 10-pounder the week before with a gold ribbed hare’s ear. On this day, when the hare’s ear wasn’t producing, he switched to the stonefly nymph, which he had tied himself the night before.

“It was exciting. The reel was screaming, I was screaming and two guys that were watching were screaming,” Mott explained with a big grin on his face.

He doesn’t know how long he fought the fish, but says his arms were cramping, and he changed arms several times while fighting the fish.

Mott was also smiling when he stated, “Then my net wasn’t big enough, so I had to get into the very cold water without any waders to land him.”  

Mott, who is new to fly fishing, having learned less than a year ago, is a graduate of the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s fly tying and fly fishing clinics.   

He caught his first fish on a fly rod in March 2010 and has been working diligently to perfect his craft ever since.

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He still goes to NDOW’s fly tying clinics in Elko and recommends that anyone wanting to learn to fly fish take advantage of the free clinics that NDOW offers through their three regional offices.  

He has become a local celebrity after taking his monster rainbow into Smith’s to get it weighed on a certified scale and having many shoppers gather around while it was being weighed, snapping pictures with their cell phones and sending them off to family and friends. 

While he isn’t having it mounted, he is having a replica made.  He has also given NDOW permission to have replicas made and they will hang in the state headquarters in Reno and the eastern region headquarters in Elko.  

“I put the fish in the smoker after NDOW confirmed that it was a state record and we got plenty of pictures and measured it,” said Mott. “It was very good, but an awful lot of fish to eat.”

Ruby Lake NWR is also the home of the tiger trout (brook trout/ brown trout hybrid) state record caught by Brian Howard back in 1998, with a weight of 13 pounds, 13 ounces. Over the past two years at least seven trout weighing more 10 pounds have been caught in the collection ditch between January and April. 

Anglers are reminded that the license year ends on Feb. 28 and not to forget to buy a new license before going fishing this spring. Licenses may be purchased online at, at NDOW offices or at one of the many license agents located throughout the state. 

For more information on fly fishing and fly tying clinics visit NDOW’s website at or call the Elko NDOW office at 777-2300. 


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