The 32nd Annual Bass Lake Fishing Derby, featuring 1,000 rainbow trout tagged for a total of $55,000 in prize money, is this Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3.
Tagged fish in the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce sponsored derby include one worth $10,000, two good for $5,000, 150 at $100, and close to 850 worth $20 each.
Registration is $25 per person and $60 per family (family registration limited to husband and wife and up to three children under the age of 16). All participants must have a valid California Fishing License. Children under 16 are not required to have a fishing license.
In order to qualify for prizes participants must be registered by 9 a.m. Saturday, at one of the three Fishing Derby Headquarters - The Forks Resort, Millers Landing Resort, or Bass Lake Boat Rentals. Registration forms can be down-loaded at basslakechamber.com. Participants can validate their advance registration at any of the derby headquarters.
Last year, for the second year in a row, a tagged trout worth $10,000 was caught on Sunday by Jerry Vang, then 21, of Fresno.
In 2013, a $10,000 fish was caught by Pete Antonino, then 84, of Fresno - in 2007, Terry Rickert of Oakhurst caught a $25,000, and a $10,000 fish was landed in 1993.
Last year Vang was fly fishing at Brown’s Ditch at the east end of the lake near the dam, at about 3 p.m. the second day of the derby when he caught fish No. 14447.
“When I reeled it in, it fell off the hook as soon as it hit land and tried to wiggle back into the water,” Vang said. “My 26-year-old brother brother Jensen was able to grab the fish before it got back into the water.”
“Can you imagine — talk about the one that almost got away,” said Michelle Miller of Miller’s Landing Resort and derby chairperson.
Last year was Vang’s third year to enter the derby, catching one $20 trout in 2012 and one in 2013. In addition to his brother, Vang was fishing with two friends. The foursome caught a total of 10 tagged fish during the derby — in addition to the “big” one, the fishing partners caught seven $20 fish and two $100 fish.
A total of 855 fisherman participated in the derby last year, catching 260 tagged fish with the chamber paying out $19,180 in prize money.