Nevada History
by John C. Evanoff is excited to present this series of articles by noted author and poet, John C. Evanoff. John will tell us about Nevada history and cover some of the more remote and unusual things to see and do in Northern Nevada.

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The Northern Nevada Fall

September, 2010
By John Evanoff

September is one of my very favorite months in Northern Nevada. The Great Reno Balloon Race takes to the sky in a magical rainbow of color over Rancho San Rafael Park. Championship Air Racers come to Reno for their annual swipe at the rarified air above Stead Air Field. The upland game season begins with Dove, Grouse, Chukar, Partridge and Quail. Fishermen all over the west get their equipment ready for the beginning of the Pyramid Lake Cutthroat Trout season October 1st. Plus, the hills and mountains are beginning to turn, their fall colors leading to some outstanding hiking away from the summer crowds and with opportunities for some fantastic camera angles. Camping in the Sierras is also a must in September, as long as the first frost and any snow leave us alone for a few weeks. All of this is September for me and brings back memories of each and every event, hunt, hike and fishing trip I ever experienced.

The Balloon Race is best captured very early during the dawn patrol on Friday and Saturday when you can experience the flight of the balloons in the dark lighting the sky with each propane powered flare and wowing the coffee-laden viewers below and throughout the northern part of the city. The race itself is later in the morning and I remember when only a few balloons first went off back in 1982. Now, more than a hundred launch and create some of the best pictures of the early morning Reno sky you will ever take. All of this is free too, which makes it a fantastic opportunity for the whole family. More than 150,000 people spend the weekend watching the event which has made it the largest free balloon event in the country.

The Reno Air Race began in the 1960’s with just a few World War II pursuit and training planes flying around 80 foot poles north of Reno in Spanish Springs Valley at Sky Ranch where now an entire city envelopes the area. Now, the race is known as the greatest air race in the world with six classes of air racing including the new sport and jet classes. If you have never seen an event like this, you must take the time to attend. The weekdays leading up to the weekend races are full of qualifying races and can be a great time to get up close and personal with the pilots and planes in the actual pits. My wife and I spent most of our time at the event over the years in the actual race pits because of all the action but also to see old friends who still race in the T-6 and Formula 1 Classes. My advice for first time event goers is to visit on Wednesday or Thursday in the pits and then go to the actual races on Saturday and Sunday, Sunday being the final championship day in all classes. More than 60,000 people attend each day on the weekend so it is noteworthy to purchase your seats ahead of time and in a good location for best viewing. Pit Passes need to be purchased to enter the race pit and are cheapest on Wednesday and Thursday. Take sun block, binoculars and a camera. Everything else is there including a variety of food, drinks and really neat race items for sale. I have Reno Air Race pins for every year dating back to 1977 but you can purchase the annual poster or just take home the cool air race schedule and program. Every year the spectacular air show brings the excitement of the United States Navy Blue Angels or the Air Force Thunderbirds or the Canadian Snowbirds depending on their schedules. All during the air show and races, flights are made from Air Force and Naval Air bases all over the west which show off military aircraft currently being used by the national defense department. A static display of many aircraft at the Stead Air Field gives an additional way of seeing many aircraft from the old and current military.

The upland game season starts early in September and goes through most of the fall. The Nevada Department of Wildlife maintains a website now that allows hunters to visit and find out about hunting and fishing throughout Northern Nevada. I’ve always thought dove is the most fun to hunt because they are so fast and take considerable talent to bag, but sometimes, due to weather, the dove move south before or early into the season so that few if any can be found. Mostly though, if you want to find dove, you should scout the area you want to hunt and especially look for drying sunflowers and thick hillsides of seeding grasses. That’s where you’ll find the dove hiding and eating. Once they take to the air, they move so fast, you’ll need to be careful swinging your shotgun into place. I think the best way to practice this move is to go to the local trap or skeet club and take a few days to get used to the shooting. The quail is also a fast bird but usually in higher concentrations or coveys, which makes your chance of bagging a limit a little more plausible. Grouse, Partridge and Chukar are all extremely tough to hunt and are my favorite because they take me up, down and across more terrain than any other game. I find it best to hunt with a couple very experienced hunting friends when going after Chukar simply because I truly believe they try to outthink and outrun any individual hunter and they are darn good at it.

Fishing at Pyramid starts in October and everyone I know who loves to fish is anxiously preparing their flies, rods, reels, waders and lures to properly equip themselves for the cutthroat trout season. If you fly fish, the black, red or purple wooly worm is the most common wet fly to use. If you like lure fishing, the torpedo, daredevil and cleo in red and white, chartreuse, or fluorescent green colors seem to be the best in the fall. Remember the slot limit and strict regulations when fishing Pyramid. The slot limit is there to enhance the fishing and over the last couple decades, has been very successful in creating one of the best fisheries in the entire west. Fishing season at Pyramid last until the next July and then the fishing is closed for the summer so the fish have a chance to grow to size and rest from the metal and feather bombardment. I’ve written at length about the fishing at Pyramid but you need to experience it first hand to truly understand this amazing fishery.

Conditions evolve over the summer to dry out the countryside which can then create unfortunate circumstances ripe for brush fires waiting for the right spark. Be sure to be extra careful this time of year. A thorough knowledge of forest and hillside fire conditions could save your life. Call the local Truckee Meadows Fire District to find out conditions where you plan to enjoy the early fall. Take your friends or loved ones and enjoy the high desert and sierras and be especially careful. Memories should be made of the fantastic scenery and not of burnt brush and lumber.

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