Two $10,000 fish up for grabs

— Staff report

April 22, 2014 

The 31st Annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce, will be held May 3 and 4 and will feature 1,002 tagged trout worth a total of $56,900 in prize money. Two of the fish are worth $10,000 each if caught by a registered fisherman during the two-day derby. In addition, there will be one $5,000 fish, 150 $100 fish, and 849 worth $20 each.

If the $10,000 fish are not caught by the end of the derby, they will be worth $500 through June 30, if caught by a registered fisherman.

Last year, Pete Antonino, 84, of Fresno, caught one of the $10,000 trout. Previous $10,000 fish were caught in 1992 and 2007.

Antonino said when he saw how small the fish was, he told his good friend and fishing partner, Anthony Donato, 49, who netted the fish for Antonino, to throw it back in the lake. When Donato told Antonino the fish had a tag on it and was worth at least $20, Antonino agreed to keep it.

Antonino was fishing from a boat with Donato between Miller's Landing Resort and the dam and the two fishermen caught five tagged fish between 7:30 and 11 a.m. Having no idea of the value of the fish they caught, the men decided to take a lunch break and then took the fish to Miller's Landing, one of three derby headquarters around the lake.

It was then that Antonino was told by Miller's employee Holly Johnson, that one of his fish was worth $10,000. After the fish was verified, Antonino said he "choked up and cried like a baby."

Antonino first fished in the derby in 1985 (one year after the inaugural derby) without catching a tagged trout. In 1988, he landed three $100 fish near the boat docks in front of Ducey's on the Lake.

Last year, nearly 1,000 participants in the event and a total of $21,840 in prize money was paid out for 351 fish over the two-day event.

In 2012, the derby had 770 participants and $1,560 was paid out for just 42 tagged fish.

Fishing lines can only be in the water 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. during the two days of the derby.

A voluntary 5 m.p.h. speed limit is encouraged of all boaters during the derby.

Derby registration fee is $25 per individual or $60 family. The family registration is limited to husband and wife with a maximum of three children under the age of 16. Registration forms are available at The Fork's Resort, Miller's Landing Resort and the Pines Market in the Pines village, and can be found at basslakechamber.com. Registration must be completed by 9 a.m. May 3.

Details: (559) 642-3676.

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