More money fish thrown in for annual fishing derby

Nicholas Sparling

Fishermen from all over gathered in the snow, sleet and rain to try their luck at the 19th annual Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, which ran March 15-17. A total of 5,082 people registered for the derby; it was the largest turnout since 1995.
Speculation from those at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce attributes the Internet for the phenomenal turnout even in the terrible weather. According to Jim Wyly of the Chamber’s Fishing Derby Committee, “More people are using the Internet to register and learn about the derby.” Also making a difference was corporate sponsorship allowing for three $10,000 fish. If the sponsored fish were caught using Troutkrilla YUM bait, the winner would get $20,000. Over 1,000 fish were tagged in total and worth amounts anywhere between $20 and $1,000.
There was a chance to win even for those who didn’t fish. The derby ranks as one of the largest in the state. This year, the derby had its own free paper ‘Kern Angler’ to explain the rules, give a map of the lake, and list the winnings for each of the tag numbers.
The three-day total amount of fish caught was 116 with $6,510 paid out. The KRV Chamber of Commerce takes out an incurrence policy on the fish, so, when one is caught, KRV is compensated for the winnings.
The Isabella Lake Fishing Derby has a reputation of always falling on a weekend of terrible weather. It held true this year even more so than usual when on the opening day, it was snowing with a harsh wind chill. The following two days remained overcast and cold.
Campgrounds around the lake were lined with tents, trailers and fishing poles. Nobody seemed to be having much luck fishing, but many were determined to keep fishing with no regard to either the weather or the cost.