Few brave snow for opening day at Topaz Lake | NevadaAppeal.com
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Few brave snow for opening day at Topaz Lake

Karl Horeis
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Tony Birito and Karl Shell, foreground, fish on Topaz Lake Thursday morning whiel an unidentified fisherman cruises along the shoreline.
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Several inches of snow put the freeze on the opening day of fishing season at Topaz Lake on Thursday.

Unlike other years when anglers lined the shore, only a few braved the icy winds this New Year’s Day.

Karl Schell and Tony Dirito of Gardnerville stood alone on the shore as snow fell. Two other figures on an opposite point were blurred by snow flurries gusting to 50 mph.

“There’s not too many people out here,” said Schell with a chuckle. “We thought this place was going to be packed.”

Schell and Dirito wore snowbibs, knit hats and parkas with hoods. The weather didn’t seem to hinder their fishing much – they caught nine trout between them.

“Karl’s got his limit, and I’m working on mine,” said Dirito.

“Putting the bait on is the worst part by far,” Schell said, snow melting on his glasses. “Your fingers get really cold.”

Fair-weather anglers kept warm next to the wood pellet stove in the bar at Topaz Landing marina.

“We’re not encouraging boats to go out,” said Linda Fields, co-owner of the marina with her husband, Chuck. For the last 12 years, they have organized an opening-day fishing derby. At 11:30 a.m. Thursday, they had 22 entries – one page of hand-written names.

“Usually we have about four pages of them,” Fields said.

Whoever caught the biggest fish would take home the $110 pot made up of $5 entry fees. In the past, the pot has been as large as $650.

Topaz Lodge casino hosts another fishing derby through April 18. That derby, too, had lower numbers because of the weather.

“The snow just killed it,” said Vicki Hathaway, manager of the Topaz Lodge General Store.

She couldn’t say how many anglers were on the lake.

“You can’t even see out there to tell,” she said. “But there’s not as many as I think there would be, if it weren’t snowing.”

Outside, cars crept over 4 inches of snow on Highway 395.

The Topaz Lodge Derby is open to anyone 21 years old or older with a valid fishing license. Trout with plastic tags in their dorsal fins are worth money at the general store.

Kevin Ciasen brought in a 16-inch rainbow Thursday morning with a tiny orange cylinder on its fin. The tag, No. 00006, was worth $250. Tags are worth $50 to $1,000. For more details call (800) 962-0732.

Topaz Lake, at about 5,080 feet, should get more snow over the next few days.

Forecasters called for accumulations of an inch or less or snow today. Tonight will be partly cloudy with a chance of snow and lows about 20 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.