31st Annual Lake Isabella Fishing Derby

A tagged trout swims lazily. | Jeffrey Walter

It’s hard to believe the Lake Isabella Fishing Derby has been going on for 31 years. This means that for 31 years residents and guests have had the opportunity to catch tagged trout that could be worth big bucks. From $10 all the way up to $500, people will catch these specially tagged fish. Now you might be wondering, what is a “tagged fish?” The answer is quite simple. You see, fish have a colored plastic “tag” attached to their upper dorsal fin. The color of the tag tells the person and the judges how much that tag is worth.

In the years before COVID-19 and restrictions on travel and crowd gatherings, tournament fishing was huge. Sponsors from all over would donate products, money and support to help the event get started. Raffles, prizes, food vendors, free stuff, grand prize giveaways and more were given away. Each event changed every year, but was always worth attending.

In the past two years, things have changed for tournament fishing. Some say the change is good, while others miss the old days of huge crowds and cheers. There’s something to be said for a large gathering of anglers: No casting room, crossed lines, caught spots, missing gear, traffic, long lines; however, it is worth it in the end. Last year’s event took away all that fast-paced excitement and attempted to change the rules and regulations of the derby.

As some restrictions were still in place, it was decided that a longer duration of the Fishing Tournament would be more beneficial by providing anglers with a more relaxed and longer time frame to fish and report tagged fish. Although the crowds weren’t there and the restrictions were being followed, the anglers still managed to bring in a very large amount of tagged fish. Prizes were awarded, photos were taken and happy anglers left to try their luck again. The change has given many anglers not only a better opportunity to catch tagged fish, but it has also given them a better second chance.

This year’s event is different again from before; however, it always follows a longer duration: a long duration of four months. That’s right, four months from April 9 to July 4. Anglers have the chance to win prizes, win gear and participate in raffles. Anglers can go out daily, every other day, on weekends, or whenever they find the time. This is a huge difference from past events, and future events will most likely continue in that direction. Anglers must still register online or in person at the Kern River Valley (Isabella Lake) Chamber of Commerce office, and all information is posted online at kernrivervalley.com.

Registration closes at 7 a.m. on April 9, so hurry and register online, mail your registration form, or simply drop by the Chamber of Commerce office. Let’s make this year’s event the best ever!

About Patricia Kilgore

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