Nearly 1,000 fisherman are expected to gather at Bass Lake for this year’s fishing derby May 5 and 6 hoping to catch their share of nearly $57,000 in prize money during the Bass Lake Fishing Derby.
The derby, sponsored by the Bass Lake chamber of Commerce, features 1,000 rainbow trout tagged for prize money. Tagged fish include two worth $10,000, one for $5,000, 150 at $100, and 847 worth $20 each.
Registration is $25 per person and $60 per family, with family registration limited to husband and wife, and up to three children under the age of 16.
All participants, except for children under the age of 16, must have a valid California Fishing License.
In order to qualify for prizes participants must be registered by 9 a.m. May 5, at one of the three Fishing Derby Headquarters - The Forks Resort, Millers Landing Resort, or Bass Lake Boat Rentals adjacent to Ducey’s on the Lake.
During the derby, all boats on the lake are asked to adhere to a 5 mph speed limit. The official hours of the derby are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, and the derby takes place regardless of weather conditions.
If less than $1000 is awarded in prize money during the Fishing Derby Weekend, the difference will be awarded in a random drawing of Fishing Derby Registrants.
If the three grand prize fish are not caught during derby weekend, they will be worth $500 through June 30 to anyone who was registered for the derby.
Registration forms and complete rules can be downloaded at www.basslakechamber.com. Participants can validate their advance registration at any of the derby headquarters.
The derby has been a popular event at Bass Lake, with the inaugural derby drawing about 1,700 fisherman in 1985. The first “big” fish for $10,000 was caught for the first time eight years later by then 35 year-old Clark Harikian of Fresno during the last day of the derby in 1993.
Harikian missed the first day of the derby on Saturday due to work (Warner Jewelry) and could not get to Bass Lake until Sunday morning.
It took another 14 years before Terry Rickards of Oakhurst caught a $25,000 trout in 2007.
Six years later, in 2013, a $10,000 fish was caught by Pete Antonino, 87, of Fresno, a retired Italian delicatessen owner.
The very next year, a tagged trout worth $10,000 was caught on the second day of the derby by Jerry Vang, then 21, of Fresno.
In 2016, Chor Vue, 36, of Fresno, an employe of Table Mountain Casino, caught one of the two $10,000 fish.
In addition to Vue’s $10,000 fish that year, an additional 98 tagged fish were caught with a total of $12,280 being paid to fisherman. In addition to the big one, four fish worth $100 were caught, along with 94 valued at $20 each.
Although the three specially tagged trout worth a total of $25,000 eluded fisherman last year, the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce still paid out $6,980 in prize money to the registered participants.
A total of 233 tagged fish were turned in including 29 $100 fish and 204 $20 fish.