The 12th Annual Trout Derby

This weekend, Lake Cachuma will host the Trout Derby, a contest where about 300 fish will be tagged and released into the lake. On April 21 and 22, numerous prizes will be awarded to individuals who catch fish with the highest three numbers on their tag. Prizes will also be handed out for the three longest trout. There are separate categories of prizes for kids 11-16 and kids 10 and under.

The annual Trout Derby, now in its 12th year, is expected to draw a lively contingent of more than 40 volunteers, about 1,000 participants and another 1,000 visitors, according to Linda Taylor, executive director of the Cachuma Lake Nature Center.

All 500 campsites will be filled and there will be craft activities, a silent auction, raffle, prizes and giveaways at the recreation hall. The registration fee is $35 and $10 for kids 10 and younger. All funds raised support the Nature Center.

“Our Nature Center promotes appreciation of the lake’s watershed, including plants, animals, geology and human history,” Taylor explained. “We host over four thousand school children visits each year where field trips include boat cruises and nature walks led by our naturalist. We also have children and adult photo workshops, fishing workshops, creepy creatures demonstrations and birding expeditions. We put out a newsletter that helps inform people of our activities.”

Supporters such as Harry and Diane DeWitt, along with the center’s director, Neal Taylor, donate rod, reel and cash prizes for 10 kids 10 and younger who catch the 10 longest trout.

Lake Cachuma’s shoreline is the setting for the boat ramp and the tackle & boat rental area, where numerous four- to six-passenger motorboats and canopy-covered boats lie waiting to be taken out on the water.

Rental fees vary from $68 for five hours to around $200 for the larger covered patio boats that can hold up to 20 people. You can fish or just cruise the lake sight-seeing. John Davis, Jim Battie or Lake Cachuma Marina and Grill manager owner Craig Lingham will help you select the right boat for your needs. Davis, who has been fishing the lake since age 12, said the derby would offer “fine fishing” from ashore but boats allow participants to cover more area and increase their chances of a catch.

“The lake is stocked every two weeks in the winter and will stop this month shortly after the trout derby,” he said.

Davis’s fish-cooking suggestion? He said to wrap your catch in tin foil along with butter, garlic and spices tucked inside and just place on the grill for a great meal. As he was saying this, I could smell the aroma of onions and spices wafting over from “the grill” right next to the tackle shop. The cooks provide a wide selection on the menu and the fish tacos come highly recommended.

For more info on this weekend’s Trout Derby visit www.cachuma.com. For the Nature Center call 683-0691 e-mail clnactr@sbceo.org.

Tackle Box Tidbits

• Santa Barbara Flyfishers Annual Dinner and Auction on May 9 at the Cabrillo Arts Center. Non-members are welcome. For information visit www.sbflyfishers.com.

• Crowley Lake & Eastern Sierra fishing season opens April 28.

• Ocean Salmon season opens mid-April and white sea bass are starting to appear over at the Channel Islands. Visit www.sealanding.com or contact me about a charter.