Although the three specially tagged trout worth a total of $25,000 eluded fisherman, the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce still paid out $6,980 in prize money to the registered participants in the Bass Lake Fishing Derby last weekend.
A total of 233 tagged fish were turned into three fishing derby headquarters around the lake, including: 29 $100 fish and 204 $20 fish.
The derby had 1,063 registered fisherman, but a turn in the weather over the weekend had many departing the 33rd annual derby Sunday morning. earlye are expected to throw their lines in the water as part of the hunt for a portion of $55,000 in prize money being offered in the 33rd Annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby May 6 and 7.
The derby featured 1,000 rainbow trout tagged for prize money including two worth $10,000, one for $5,000, 150 at $100, and 847 worth $20 each.
The two $10,000 and one $5,000 fish are worth $500 each if caught by a registered fishermen by June 30. The numbers of those fish are 17685, 17789 and 17120.
Five fish worth $65,000 have been caught in the 33-year history of the event. 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 nine years later by then 35-year-old Clark Harikian of Fresno during the derby’s last day 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.
“I was watching my clock and biting my fingernails all day Saturday at work and got out on Bass Lake as fast as I could Sunday morning,” Harikian said at the time.
Harikian and his long time fishing buddy, Ken Fries, then 73, agreed to split the money if either one caught the big one - and as agreed upon, Harikian was happy to give his friend $5,000 after cashing the check from the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce.
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 (2014), a tagged trout worth $10,000 was caught on the second day of the derby by Jerry Vang, then 21, of Fresno. He was fly fishing at Brown’s Ditch at the east end of the lake near the dam at about 3 p.m. on Sunday when he caught the ‘big’ one. Last year was Vang’s third time to fish in the derby, catching one $20 trout in 2012 and another $20 fish in 2013.
The big dollar fish eluded 855 fishermen in 2015, although they did catch 260 tagged fish worth $19,180.
Last last year, Chor Vue, 36, of Fresno, caught one of the two $10,000 fish.
In addition to Vue’s $10,000 fish last year, an additional 98 tagged fish (four for $100 each and 94 for $20 each) were caught with a total of $12,280 being paid to lucky fisherman.