Ninth annual John Riordan Invitational Derby is just around the corner

April 23-24-25 are the 2006 dates for the John Riordan Invitational Fishing Derby.

That highly popular derby is traditionally headquartered at the Topaz Lake Marina and the Topaz Lake Lodge at Topaz Lake on the Nevada-California stateline, about 40 miles south of Carson City.

John is the bar manager for the Pinion Plaza Hotel and Casino and the Carson Station Hotel and Casino, both in Carson City.

He recently underwent successful open-heart surgery, has recovered nicely from that medical procedure and is now back to work full-time.

This will be the ninth annual version of this big, fun-filled event.


The derby begins at 5 a.m. on Sunday, April 23 and it will end at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25.

The contestants will be able to fish in the following Nevada waters: Topaz Lake, Topaz Canal, the East Walker River, the West Walker River, the East Carson River, the West Carson River, the Main Carson River, the Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area (North Pond, Hinkson Slough, etc.), Fort Churchill Cooling Ponds, Hinkson Slough, Lahontan Reservoir, Weber Reservoir and Walker Lake.

They will be competing for cash prizes for the top three places ($150 for first, $75 for second and $25 for third) in these different categories: Catfish, German Brown Trout, Walker Lake Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and Any Other Trout.

The derby traditionally features a hamburger/hotdog barbecue on Sunday evening at the Marina, a barbecued Tri-Tip steak and chicken dinner also at the Marina on Monday night and then the big Prime Rib dinner and awards banquet at the Lodge on Tuesday evening.

Best of all, at that Tuesday night awards dinner, every contestant will win a raffle prize (even me!). Those prizes include a whole host of "goodies" including fishing rods, reels, tackle boxes, all kinds of camping and fishing gear, ice chests, shirts, hats, etc.

This year as usual, Little Donnie Q and his three fishing partners (Norm Budden, Don Hettrick and Bob 'Slick" McCulloch) are set to try to win some of the top prizes in the various fishing categories.

And, again this year as usual, the team of the two Dons will be trying desperately to outfish the other two "Scoundrels" for private bragging rights for the year.

Heck, who knows, this could be the year that we finally kick their butts. I sure hope so!


By way of background, the first Invitational Fishing Derby was held many years ago at Bodega Bay in Northern California. That derby was the idea of Steve Ustal, Riordan's late brother-in-law.

That first-ever, get-together attracted only four people who fished on the sport fishing boat "Sea Dog" for Ling Cod and Rock Cod. On that initial trip, the idea of having an annual derby took root and grew.

The following year, 10 contestants were entered in the event, also held at Bodega Bay. Then, the third year, 25 people (including yours truly on his first-ever try) traveled to Bodega Bay.

The derby has grown to now include about 125 contestants each year. Through the years, the derbies have been headquartered at various locations including Bodega Bay, Bucks Lake near Quincy, Calif., the Walker River Resort in Smith Valley and for the last eight years at Topaz Lake.

A perpetual trophy, dedicated to Steve Ustal, is now awarded to the angler who catches the largest fish in the derby.

Last year's winners:


1. Bob ("Slick") McCulloch (15 1/2 ounces).

2. McCulloch (15 1/8 ounces).

Cutthroat trout:

1. Don Hettrick (3 pounds, 2 1/2 ounces).

2. Carl Inman (2 pounds, 15 ounces).

Rainbow trout:

1. Norm Budden (2 pounds, 4 ounces).

2. Ed Fabray (1 pound, 12 1/8 ounces).

German brown trout:

None were caught for the second straight year.


The ninth annual John Riordan Topaz Lake Derby should, again, be a fun-filled occasion where everyone will have a chance to visit with good friends, try to win some money, eat great food, have a ton of fun, etc.

-- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon he can't tell you where Don H and Don Q plan to fish in the derby.

If he grins and says, "The two of them always go to Walker Lake to fish for Lahontan cutthroat trout," he might have spied on us in past years.

-- Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.


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