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Outdoor Tales: Kids' trout derby Saturday

February 22, 2001|By AL KALIN, Special to this newspaper

The eighth annual junior trout derby will take place Saturday at Sunbeam and Wiest lakes. Park fees will be waived all day Saturday. The state Fish & Game Commission will plant thousands of rainbow trout for the event.

All you moms and dads, uncles and aunts, grandmas and grandpas, need to round up some fishing tackle and take the kids fishing for the morning. I can't think of a more enjoyable way to have some family fun and get children interested in a hobby that can be rewarding for the rest of their lives.

Of course, you parents or relatives aren't allowed to fish during the derby, but you sure can help the youngsters with baiting, casting and retrieving the fish.

The rules are simple. Kids must be age 15 or younger and accompanied by an adult during the derby. Registration starts at 7 a.m. and the derby runs from 8 a.m. until noon. By registering, kids are eligible to win prizes but must be present to win. Parents must bring their own gear for the children. Only one rod is allowed per child and the limit is five trout per derby entrant. The largest trout will be measured to decide who the derby winner is.


To give the children a better chance to catch some delicious eating trout, both Wiest and Sunbeam lakes will be off-limits to all types of fishing prior to the event after the hatchery truck has planted the trout. As soon as the derby is over at noon, both lakes will be open to fishing for adults and kids alike. You adults need to remember if you intend to fish after the derby is over, you must have a valid fishing license.

This premier fishing event was the brainchild of Bruce Brower and former warden Steve Messick, who organized the first kid's trout derby eight years ago. It has gained in popularity every year with various businesses in the Valley chipping in donations and prizes for the winners.

For more information about the derby or if businesses would like to donate prizes for this event, they can contact event chairman, Brower at work at 339-2210 or at home at 337-8128. Information is also available from the county Parks Department by calling 339-4384 or from Warden Carol Sassie at 344-8139.

Trout fishing tackle is available at Zendejas True Value Hardware in Calipatria, Imperial Stores in Brawley and Holtville, Rite-Aide in Brawley and El Centro, as well as Big 5 Sporting Goods and Kmart in El Centro. The Wal-Mart stores in El Centro and Calexico also carry a good selection of trout tackle. I plan on donating a trout-fishing lure for every contestant who enters the derby and I challenge the above stores to follow my example if they haven't already pledged their support.

Although trout will not survive in the warm waters encountered here in the summer, they do just great during this time of the year when water temperatures remain below 70 degrees.

As far as fish go, hatchery- raised trout are easy to catch as well as delicious to eat. There's no better way to start a lazy Sunday morning than frying up some potatoes and trout for breakfast.

My suggestion for a successful trout fishing trip is to use light line. I prefer 2- to 4-pound test monofilament. Pre-tied fishing rigs, complete with hooks, are available at all places that sell fishing tackle in the Valley. Cheese rigs or floating bait rigs are a good choice tied with either No. 14- or No. 16-size treble hooks.

Cheese is popular as trout bait as are salmon eggs, earthworms and marshmallows. I like to bait my hook with one of the above baits and then tip it with 1/4 of a small marshmallow. The marshmallow floats the bait off the bottom and above the moss on the bottom of the lake so the trout can find it easier. A flavored floating cheese bait is also available that works well.

Trout hit artificial lures with a vengeance. My favorite is a Trout Tube or K-Tail found in most sporting goods stores. The way to fish these small little morsels is to attach a small bobber two to three feet above the lure and let the wave action of the water gently work the bait for you. Set the hook when the bobber disappears underwater. Spinners and different types of spoons also work great.

To get to Wiest Lake in the Northend of the Valley, take Highway 111 to Rutherford Road, turn east and Wiest Lake is two miles down the road next to the Alamo River. At the south end of the Valley, Sunbeam Lake can be reached by going west on Interstate 8 and turning north on Drew Road. The park entrance is only about a half mile north of the freeway.

So let's get out there, folks, and teach our children about this wonderful sport they will continue to enjoy the rest of their lives.

Outdoor Tales columnist Al Kalin may be reached by e-mail at

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