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Hundreds come out for the Bass Lake Fishing Derby. The grand prize fish are still out there

Bass Lake Fishing Derby welcomes over 1,000 fishermen

The annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby brought over 1,000 fishermen to Bass Lake, CA with the hop of winning a piece of the derby's $55,000 in prize money. As of Sunday evening, only $800 worth of rainbow trout had been reeled in.
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The annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby brought over 1,000 fishermen to Bass Lake, CA with the hop of winning a piece of the derby's $55,000 in prize money. As of Sunday evening, only $800 worth of rainbow trout had been reeled in.

More than 1,000 fishermen gathered in Bass Lake over the weekend hoping to reel in a slice of the $55,000 Bass Lake Fishing Derby prize money. But for the majority of participants that hope never materialized.

One thousand tagged rainbow trout were released before the start of derby Saturday morning, including three grand prize fish worth a combined $25,000. The annual event is sponsored by the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce and kicks off the summer season at the lake.

By the end of the derby, Michelle Miller, with the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce and Miller’s Landing Resort, said 110 fish, or more than $3080 worth, had been caught. Miller said that number was only slightly below the average for previous derbies.

“People have been loving the weather and have had a really great attitude throughout all this,” Miller said. But she went on to joke that there are always those that “don’t catch anything and swear there’s no fish in the lake.”

Janel Fowler, 43, caught an untagged six-pound bass Friday evening, as well as a few other untagged fish, but was still holding out hope that either she or one of her family members would reel in a rainbow trout.

“It’s been great. We’ve caught a lot of fish, but no tags,” Fowler, a Fresno native, said.

Tagged fish had also eluded Ray Cruz, whose family had a combined eight poles sitting just right of the Crane Valley Dam.

“No luck, at all, not even a bite. I’ve thrown everything at it: Worms, power bait, power worms, you name it. With all my family and friends, we have eight poles in the water and nothing,” Cruz said.

Cruz, a 52-year-old San Jose resident, said he was going to stay out on the lake as long as he could. He still had some bait he had not tried out, including cheddar cheese.

Fishing lines are allowed on the lake until 8 p.m. and lucky fishermen have until 9 p.m. to turn in any tagged trout.

Miller said the three grand prize fish are still swimming in the lake. Since no one caught them during the derby, they will be worth $500 for any angler that manages to catch them before June 30.

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