April 29-30 and May 1 are the dates for the John Riordan Invitational Fishing Derby. Riordan is the bar manager for the Carson Station Hotel and Casino, and this will be the 10th annual Topaz Lake version of this event.
The 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. However, this year, there will be three major changes waiting for the contestants:
Change No. 1: There will be no derby activities at the Topaz Lodge due to a recent fire that caused serious damage to the building.
Change No. 2: The derby dates now coincide with the opening of the California fishing season.
Change No. 3: The California waters of the Carson and Walker River systems are included in the list of the fishable waters.
If interested, here is some info:
Derby: The derby begins at 5 a.m. on Sunday, April 29 and ends at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1.
During those three days, the contestants will be able to fish, anywhere they desire, in these waters:
Nevada: Any of the open waters of the Carson River and Walker River systems such as 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, Lahontan Reservoir, Weber Reservoir and Walker Lake.
California: Any of the open waters of the Carson and Walker River systems such as Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, Bridgeport Reservoir, the East Walker River, the West Walker River, Indian Creek Reservoir, the East Carson River and the West Carson River.
Fishing: About 100 contestants will be vying for cash prizes ($150 for first place, $75 for second and $25 for third) in four categories: Catfish, Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout and Any Other Trout.
As usual, my regular fishing partner Don Hettrick and I, plus Norm Budden and Bob 'Slick" McCulloch will be trying to win some of those prizes in the fishing categories.
And as usual, Don H. and Don Q. will be trying to outfish the other two "Scoundrels" for private bragging rights for the year.
Activities: The derby traditionally features a hamburger/hotdog barbecue on Sunday evening at the Marina, and a barbecued tri-tip steak and chicken dinner at the Marina on Monday night.
This year, due to the fire, the traditional prime rib dinner and awards banquet on Tuesday evening will be held in a large tent on the lawn in front of the motel.
In addition, the Elks Lodge will provide breakfast each morning of the derby in the tent.
At the Tuesday night dinner, every contestant will win a raffle prize, which includes such "goodies" as fishing rods, reels, tackle boxes, camping and fishing gear, ice chests, shirts, hats, etc.
History: The first John Riordan 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 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, which was also held at Bodega Bay.
The third year, 25 people (including yours truly on his first-ever try) traveled to Bodega Bay.
Through the years, the derbies have been headquartered at locations including Bodega Bay, Bucks Lake near Quincy, Calif., the Walker River Resort in Smith Valley and for the last nine years at Topaz Lake.
A perpetual trophy, dedicated to the memory of Ustal, is awarded to the angler who catches the largest fish in the derby.
The 2006 winners were:
1. Joe Tamburino of Dayton: 11 ounces total weight.
2. Norm Budden of Carson City: 10.25 ounces.
3. Doug Collins of Carson City: 10.25 ounces.
1. Gary Alvis of South Lake Tahoe: 3-pounds, 1/2 ounce.
2. Carl Inman Jr. (hometown unknown): 2-pounds, 9.50 ounces.
3. Tina Hunter of Carson City: 2-pounds, 9 ounces.
1. Suzanne Boerner of Carson City: 3-pounds, 1.25 ounces.
2. Bud Higgins of Douglas County: 2-pounds, 9.75 ounces.
3. Lyle Smith of Carson City: 2-pounds, 8.75 ounces.
1. Warren Senour of Stagecoach: 3-pounds, 1/4 ounce. There were no other entries for browns.
1. Boerner with her rainbow.
Be sure to pull for Don H. and Don Q. to win some money.
-- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you where Don H. and Don Q. plan to fish during this year's derby.
If he grins and says, "Heck, they won't even give Budden and McCulloch that secret information," he could be in the derby!
-- Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.