The 2008 Topaz Lake Fishing Derby got off to a fantastic start on New Year's Day with more than $4,000 in winnings taken home by lucky anglers. According to local weather watcher Frank Riva, the die-hard derby participants huddled around campfires and waited for sunrise in 16 degree temperatures so they could be the first to cast a line in the frigid Topaz waters. Even though the sun was shining most of the day, temperatures only reached a high of 39 degrees.
"We had a record-breaking crowd of anglers waiting for sunrise," Topaz General Store Manager Diane Mcewen said. "Across the lake you could see campfires a blaze. Anglers just waiting to cast out in hopes to catch a tagged fish. Anglers came from as far away as California, Texas and Washington state along with lots of locals.
"One angler reported that he counted 78 vehicles parked along Topaz Lake Road," she said.
In all, 19 tagged fish, ranging from $50 to $1,000 were caught and the derby sponsor, Topaz Lodge and Casino, gave away over $4,000 on opening day, not to mention that with every 2-pound fish caught, the lucky angler received a coupon for $10 in free slot play and entry for a chance at the end of derby prize giveaway on April 20.
Of the known three $1,000 tagged fish swimming in the lake, two were caught on opening day by Douglas County residents. There still is one more $1,000 trout remaining at large so don't give up, he could be hiding anywhere in the lake.
The first big catch went to Jim Seaman from Gardnerville Ranchos who caught the $1,000 tagged fish weighing 2.7 pounds and 17 1/2 inches long.
Lake resident Debbie McElhaney caught another $1,000 tagged fish, practically off her own dock, Mcewen said. McElhaney's beauty weighed in at 2 pounds and was 17 1/2 inches long.
Other big winners were Zac Sayed, fishing from the north side. He caught a $250 tagged fish weighing 2.7 pounds and 17 1/2 inches long. Judy Baxter caught a $250 tagged fish weighing 3.4 pounds and 18 inches long on the east shore.
The following is a list of names of other anglers who caught tagged fish on opening day: Jeff Boylan from Wellington, Matt Mavai from Sparks, Mark Kizer from Gardnerville, Dick Horvath from Coleville, Wayne Eichhorst from Gardnerville, Wally Farnham from Wellington, Tim Sullivan from Gardnerville, Dwayne Matthews from Canyon Country, Calif., Augie Esenarro from Carson City, Gene Couste from Carson City and Alan Alltizer from Minden. Pretty exciting for the opening day of the 51st fishing derby on Topaz Lake.
Congratulations to all the winners. There is still a lot of time and a lot of fish to catch with wonderful prizes still to be won until the close of the derby scheduled for April 13. Catch a tagged trout and, after verification by a Topaz Lodge official, receive the cash amount of the tag instantly. Weekly winners will be determined by weight. To be eligible, the trout must weigh a minimum of 2 pounds. Weigh-in will be handled at the Topaz Lodge General Store from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Two cash awards, $50 first place and $25 second place, will be awarded weekly. Each 2-pound trout gets $10 in free slot play and tickets to enter in the drawing that will take place at the end of the derby. The drawing will be 7 p.m. April 20 and you must be present to win. The grand prize is an 8-foot Pelican Raider fishing boat with a Johnson 3-horsepower motor. Other prizes from Cabella's, Sportsman's Warehouse and Hendrick's Bait and Tackle will be included in the drawing.
For more information or a copy of the rules, contact Topaz Lodge and Casino at (800) 962-0732 or 266-3338.
Until next week, just keep on keepin' on.
-- Jonni Hill can be reached at email@example.com or at 782-5121, ext. 213, or after hours at JHILL47@aol.com.