Selected top memories, both good and bad, for 2000

Here's a list of my selected top memories for calendar 2000. Some of those memories are positive, some are negative, but collectively, that's life. They represent the highlights and low points of 2000 in the life of Don Q.

- Jim McGee' Death: The untimely death of my long time close friend, fishing partner, cocktail drinker, steak eater, traveling companion and television show co-host, Jim McGee on May 31. He had developed a very rare but fatal disease that affects only one person out of every one million people. Unfortunately, "Jimbo" was that one. He will be deeply missed.

- Jim Quilici at Wildhorse Reservoir: He made a spectacular, long-distance toss of his fishing net and Rapala lure at Wildhorse Reservoir last September. The lure and net were hopelessly tangled, he tried to untangle that unholy mess, finally lost his temper and threw them as far as he could out into the water. I wanted to snicker but was afraid that he would throw me out into the water, too! And I don't float.

- The Elbow area of the East Walker River:

I never knew how possessive some people can be until I ran a story about trout fishing at the "Elbow" on the East Walker River. Man, they came out of the woodwork. They were all loudly complaining I was giving away their super secret fishing spot. They definitely were not happy when I reminded them that the Elbow is located on public land, reached by a public road maintained by taxpayer monies and stocked by the Nevada Division of Wildlife with trout paid for with monies from the Nevada Trout Stamp. Geez, what part of that don't they understand?

- Winning 7 of 10 Fishing Derby Prizes: In late April, Norm Budden, Don Hettrick, Bob "Slick" McCulloch and yours truly were four of the contestants in the annual John Riordan Invitational Fishing Derby, headquartered at Topaz Lake. When the derby ended and the smoke and dust had settled, here is what we did:

German Brown Trout Category:

First Place: Hettrick.

Third Place: McCulloch.

Fifth Place: Hettrick.

All Other Trout Category:

First Place: A tie between Don Q and Bill Cocking of Carson City.

Third Place: Hettrick.

Fourth Place: Don Q.

Fifth Place: Budden.

Not too shabby! We nailed seven out of 10 prizes. Hmmm, I wonder if we will get invited back in 2001?

- Rainbow trout fishing at Fremont Lake: I spent four-days and three nights in late June at Fremont Lake in the Hoover Wilderness Area, just west and north of Bridgeport, Calif. I was one of a group of 12 people who had booked the horseback trip with Bart Cranney of the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station of Walker, Calif. The fishing was spectacular! Our group caught and released a huge number of rainbow trout, up to about 17 inches in length. One of our party estimated that we collectively caught and released over 300 trout in those four days. That's right, over 300! The fly fishermen in their float tubes were absolutely deadly with flies such as Adams parachute, Pheasant tails, Nymphs, etc. Yours truly trolled from his brand-new, three-man, inflatable raft together with Mark Jackson of Douglas County. We used black/gold or black/silver, No. 5, floating Rapala lures or silver or gold F-4 Flatfish lures with awesome results.

- Hot Air Balloon Ride: I took my first-ever hot-air balloon ride on Sept. 7. That memorable ride was as part of Media Day for the 2000 Great Reno Balloon Races. Craig Swope of Carson Access Television accompanied me. We rode in the Benehana Restaurant balloon, sponsored by the Flamingo Hilton Hotel and Casino of Reno. The balloon was piloted by Frank Prell of Captiva Island, Fla. Prell was accompanied by a "Chase Crew" who remained behind while we were aloft. The crew included Irina Snetkova, his finance. She came to the United States a year ago from Russia where she was an attorney.

On our 2-hour ride, Prell, Swope and I were accompanied by Paul Mazurowski, the director of food and beverage for the Flamingo Hilton. The four of us were crammed into the small gondola but no one complained. We were too busy having a "ball."

- Being a raffle winner: I was one of the big winners at the big Nevada Appeal Christmas party held on the night of Dec. 8 at the Carson Nugget. Some of the raffle prizes being given away were awesome. They included such things as a vacation trip to Laughton, Nev., a personal computer, various dinners for two, rounds of golf for two, gift certificates, etc. I really wanted to win that trip to Laughton, so I bought $40 of tickets. I didn't win the trip but I did win, not one, not two, not three but four other very nice prizes! Four! Gee, it's really hard to be humble!

- Black Bear on Trail: On Oct. 14, Elaine McGee and I decided to fish at some beaver ponds on the Little Walker River in the Hoover Wilderness Area. Those ponds are located about two miles from a cabin at Willow Flat. Calif.

We drove to the end of the road, got out, put on our fishing vests, grabbed our poles and began to hike on the trail to the ponds.

When we first began to hike, I told her to try to walk quietly because if we did, we just might see some mule deer along the trail.

We had only hiked about 300 yards up the trail, came around a corner and a large, black bear walked across the trail, right in front of us. It was big, jet-black, sleek, shinny and could have cared less about us. I don't think that it even knew that we were there. As we stood and watched, the bear slowly ambled through the trees and up the ridge as if we did not even exist.

- Breaking My Tailbone: This is my top memory and most painful of the entire year. I broke my tailbone when I was thrown from a horse on July 8 at a guest ranch in Northern California. My Orthopedic Specialist told me that it was the worst break that he had ever seen. He said that if it had been two inches higher, I would have been paralyzed for life. I spent the next three months with a constant combination of ice packs, very strong pain pills, sleeping pills and soft pillows to sit on. Because of the injury, I had to cancel a halibut fishing trip to Alaska, a packhorse trip in the Hoover Wilderness Area and a salmon fishing trip on the Sacramento River. It was certainly not a fun-filled summer for Little Donnie Q and I'll remember it for a long, long time.

- That's it. My top memories of 2000 - both good and bad.

Do you have memories for 2000?

- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you the farthest I traveled from Carson City in 2000.

If he replies, "It was back in mid-March when "Q" took a trip to Hong Kong China, Singapore Malaysia and Bali Indonesia," he wins and you are a big loser.


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