This year’s Neal Taylor Nature Center 17th Annual Trout Derby was attended by anglers of all ages, with more than 500 registered to fish in the derby and many others along for a stormy beginning and a glorious ending to a weekend of camping and fun at Cachuma Lake and the Nature Center.
The contest was held last Saturday and Sunday with a cold, windy and rainy start to the weekend — pouring rain, windy and cold on Friday — ending up with perfect fishing weather on Sunday.
The top prize was awarded to Lonnie Erickson of Los Olivos for the Highest Tag Number (No. 183).
Lonnie Erickson caught his tagged trout on Sunday, the last day of the derby, and checked his winning fish in about 45 minutes before the ending horn sounded.
Second prize was awarded to James Karaba of Simi Valley, $1000 for the Longest Trout (23 1/8 inches and 5.72 pounds).
Other top prizes were awarded to Ken Weber of Santa Barbara, $550 for the Second Highest Tag; Jay Oliver, $500 for the Second Longest Trout (22 5/8 inches); Prize to Oldest Angler awarded to William Massa, 88, of Santa Maria; Longest Trout caught by Boy Age 11 to 15, awarded to Samy Ramirez, 11, of Lompoc (18 3/4 inches; 2.94 pounds); Second Longest Trout Caught by Boy Age 11 to 15, awarded to Mathew Najera, 12, of Santa Barbara (18 ¾ inches; 2.34 pounds); and Shortest Trout Caught awarded to Randy Smith of Alhambra (10 1/4 inches; 0.36 pounds).
The first two trout caught and entered in the trout derby were by Zachery Williams (grandson) and Shannon Newby (grandfather) of Santa Maria.
Catalina Kett was fishing with her father, Eric. Catalina caught and entered a qualifying fish on the first day of the derby. On the second day she upgraded her entry with another trout, which was the same length but a little heavier. Her name remained on the scoreboard for the two days until bumped by bigger fish entered in the last hours of the derby.
The trout derby is a benefit fundraiser for the Neal Taylor Nature Center, which is located at Cachuma Lake and offers programs and exhibits on the Santa Ynez River Watershed.
About 70 volunteers planned and operated the derby, raffle and children’s activities, with more than $15,700 in cash sponsorship and $13,000 in merchandise sponsorship.
The following children each won $25 and a rod and reel for the longest fish in the category of children 10 years old and younger:
» Cody Bridges of Santa Maria (21¼”)
» Connor Struven of Buellton (18¾”)
The enthusiastic young fisherman was fishing the Cachuma Lake Trout Derby with his father, Mark. Connor created his own lure/bait hybrid that he named the “Trout Sandwich.” And like many experienced fishermen, he cast out and patiently waited until wham! Big trout cannot resist the sandwich.
» Brooke Tosti of Santa Maria (18 5/8”)
» Benjamin Boeddeker of Santa Barbara (18¼”)
» Roman Stillwell of Los Olivos (18¼”)
The following five each won a rod/reed combo:
» Connor Streett of Santa Barbara (18 1/8”)
» Amethyst Erickson of Ventura (17½”)
» Camden Millington of Santa Barbara (17¼)
» Gary McComb of Santa Barbara (17 1/8”)
» Derek True of Carpenteria (15½)
— Julie McDonald is executive director of the Neal Taylor Nature Center.