CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. – It was another big year for the annual Catfish Derby, with a record turnout and participants coming from nine states to take part.
The 29th annual derby – billed as the biggest event of its kind west of the Mississippi – took place this past Friday through Sunday, sponsored by the Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association.
Dennis Locke, a member of the organizing team, said the derby was “a huge success,” with near-perfect weather and fishing conditions, and more than $8,500 in cash and merchandise awarded to derby contestants.
Carla Meza of Yuba City won the adult division and took home a $4,000 cash prize, according to Locke.
She brought in a 23.82-pound fish she caught at Clear Lake State Park using cut mackerel as bait, Locke said.
Meza would later return her fish to Clear Lake, according to derby records.
Triton Marlowe of Clearlake Oaks won the children's division – and took home a Nintendo Wii gaming system – for bringing in a 16.26-pound fish that he caught in the Clear Lake Keys using chicken livers, Locke reported.
Locke said there were 693 entries – 580 for the adult event and 113 for the children's derby – which he said was easily a record turnout.
This year's contestants weighed 276 fish totaling approximately 3,574.10 pounds, which Locke said also was a derby record.
He said some contestants reported catching and releasing as many as 10 to 15 smaller catfish in one day.
Visitors made up the largest number of participants, with 419 out-of-county entries – or 60 percent – coming from nine different states, and as far away as Massachusetts and Mississippi, to fish in Clear Lake, Locke said. Approximately 274 entries came from Lake County.
The annual catfish derby is the major fundraiser for the Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association.
All proceeds are given back to the community in the form of donations, scholarships, grants and funding for the annual July 4 fireworks.
The list of winners in the two divisions follows.