Lake Isabella Derby approaching, still time to enter West’s biggest trout derby

By Rex Emerson

LAKE ISABELLA – With the lure of over $250,000 in prizes, the 24th Annual Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, sponsored by Berkley & Shakespeare, is shaping up to be one of the best ever. Don’t miss your chance at the big money April 20, 21, and 22.

The water level being lower than normal could very likely provide anglers with much better odds, with the same amount of tagged fish in a smaller pool, plus added shoreline that normally would not be available. There is plenty of water in the lake, though, and due to the winter run off the level is rising daily.

Entrants in the 2013 Isabella Derby can walk away with big cash prizes. Derby runs April 20-22.

The derby trout, (approximately 3,000 pounds/12,000 fish) were provided last December by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), through a memorandum of understanding, (that the committee be responsible for rearing, feeding and planting.) By derby planting time, those fish weigh an average of 1.5 pounds  The trout are fed three times daily by members of the Kern Valley Fish & Game Habitat Club and other dedicated community volunteers.

During the process, the DFW assist with the overseeing of the raising of these fish; they frequently weigh the fish, provide fish rearing expertise and pathology services in case of disease outbreaks or other problems associated with the trout in the derby net pens.

“We want our participants to have the most enjoyable fishing experience possible,” says derby chairman Fred Roach.

Sponsors & cash rewards: The number of “major” sponsors this year is nine, with each sponsoring a $10,000 tagged trout. In addition, the Kern River Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a trout worth $20,000!  Adding even more to the anticipation, if the $20,000 Chamber of Commerce fish is caught while the lucky angler is wearing an “official” 2013 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby T-shirt or hoodie, the prize will be doubled to $40,000.00.  This year, the official derby apparel will be sold, while quantities last, by on-line order up until April 10 or at derby headquarters during the event. The other 990 fish are worth between $50 and $1,000.

This is the third year Berkley will be involved and second year for  Shakespeare.  Bob Hoose, field marketing manager for Shakespeare, has arranged to provide over $2,500 in fishing equipment for this year’s raffle, guaranteed to be some nice gear as well as give away gear at check-in.

Both Berkley and Shakespeare will be on hand with booths to display products as well as teach angling technics.  Berkley will also be displaying some of their new baits for the 2013.

Additional prizes: For the third year derby organizers will be offering a chance to win a fantastic fishing boat. This year’s boat is a Lowe GS 202 Suncruiser Pontoon with trailer and Mercury 4-strke 25HP outboard. This entire package, supplied by Galey’s Marine Supply in Bakersfield, CA, is worth close to $20,345. The boat will be on display at the California Central Valley Sportsman’s Boat, RV and Outdoor Show on April, 5, 6 and 7, 2013, at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, CA., and of course at derby headquarters during the derby. The boat drawing ticket prices are $20 for one and $100 for six.

The Longest Trout Contest is back again this year, with first place prize netting the entrant $1,000 for the longest trout caught.  There are prizes of $500 for the second longest, $250 for the third longest and $200 for the fourth longest trout caught during the three day event. The trout does not have to be tagged, however the winner must be a registered entrant in the event.

Entry/information: Applications for the derby are now available at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce office, several local merchants in the Kern River Valley, as well as in Bakersfield. You can also enter the event and get additional information online at

The final date and time to register is 7 a.m. on Saturday April 20, 2013. Derby ends on Monday April 22, 2013 at 6 p.m.