They just weren’t biting

They just werent biting

Andrew Van Sickle (left) and his father Jeff Van Sickle pose with the fish they caught at the annual Trout Derby at Lake Evans on Nov. 12.

Patricia Rocha, Reporter

Fisherman and their families braved the rain and cold for the annual Trout Derby at Lake Evans in Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area.

For most fishermen, the $1000 prize money for the heaviest trout is worth camping out in the wind and rain and waiting in line for the allowed time of 6:30 a.m. for the best spot.

Jesus Mendoza arrived at 2:30 a.m. to wait for the gates to open outside of the site.

“It’s the sport of it. That’s what I like. To try my luck,” said Mendoza about the derby. “It’s like a tradition.”

Many fishermen agreed the money for the heaviest fish is only part of what brings so many people out to this event every year.

“It’s more than the money. It’s the bragging rights,” said Randy Hudnall, who was last year’s first place winner. “It’s like winning the lottery. It’s amazing.”

Most of this year’s participants have made the derby a tradition with their family or a certain group of friends, and enjoy the time spent with each other.

“It’s hard to get the kids outside anymore,” said Amy Hill, who brought her children to participate.

“You get to see people you haven’t seen in a long time,” said Ray Leal, who enjoyed bringing his family to create lasting memories and catching up with old friends.

“[The kids] remember it. It’s something they tell their friends and teachers and everyone,” Leal said.

“It’s just the fun of it. It brings you back to your youth,” said Roman Salcedo.

Despite the family friendly atmosphere, many people chose to skip the derby this time around. This year, participant numbers fell from last year’s 800 to around 500, and some who came wished they had skipped this year too.

“This has been by far the worst year,” said Danny Molina, who has had much better luck on this site in previous years.

“[The fish] all seem to be sleeping,” said Jeff VanSickle about having only caught two fish in the six hours he’d been there.

Even the most skilled fisherman who participated admitted luck has a lot to do with fishing, especially in the weather they found themselves on that day.

“It’s both luck and skill,” said Tom Martin. “But there’s always a chance for the money fish.”

It’s that luck, either good or bad, that leaves these fishermen with some of their best fishing stories.

“One year, we hooked a sevenpounder, which was the biggest of the day, but in the last hour someone beat us by a pound and a half,” said Leal.

“We had a guy finally hook a big one, we hadn’t caught anything all day, and people came over [from other sites] to help us bring it in, but he lost it at the last second,” recalled Eric Federoff.

Though there were two thousand pounds of trout placed in the lake on Nov. 10, most fishermen blamed the poor weather for the lack of catches this year, and hope to come back after the derby to catch the remaining fish.