Saturday, March 23rd was a great day for anglers in Bishop, California! The Blake Jones Trout Derby was a resounding success, and the Bishop Chamber of Commerce is grateful for all the support of sponsors, volunteers, and participants.

There were 378 registered participants this year, a significant increase over last year. “We increased our advertising a bit and added discounts for senior citizens, military personnel, and youth anglers. And, because this event is all about getting families out to fish together, we provided free admission to children under 10 years old,” explains Chamber Event Coordinator April Kress.

The event was moved back to the traditional March schedule and the weather (mostly) cooperated. It was a bit rainy and windy in the morning, but things cleared up nicely by midday. There were plenty of fish and over $10K in prizes awarded. Rainbow and Brown Trout were caught at Pleasant Valley Reservoir and in the Owens River near Bishop and the prize ceremony was at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair and Event Center in downtown Bishop.

According to event organizers, there was a good mix of locals and visitors. Nearly 40% of participants were from Bishop and many came from Southern California, the Central Valley and a few from Northern California. Some of the furthest travel award winners came from New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. “Many told us this event is a three or four generation family tradition and even if they live far away, they make a point of returning to Bishop every spring for the derby,” explained Chamber Executive Director Tawni Thomson. For many people, it’s as much about the family & friend reunion as it is the fishing.

Lucky winners took home nice prizes including float tubes, Yeti coolers, rod & reel combos and tons of other great gear provided by the event’s ever-generous co-sponsors.

The derby is an important tradition for visitors as well as locals. “We want to make sure that it’s sustainable so upcoming generations can enjoy the fishing fun. We’ve added a category for catch & release and a special raffle prize for those who pick up trash while they are out fishing. And we always purchase and plant far more fish than are usually caught at the derby,” explains Kress. The catch & release category had over 80 entries and nearly 10 bags of trash were collected by anglers.

Event organizers emphasize that this event is all for fun and thanks to the blind bogey format, you don’t have to catch a big fish or lots of fish to qualify for the great prizes. This year’s blind bogey weight was 8 ounces and there were dozens of adults and kids that qualified with that weight.