Henry St. Clair, Derby Mascot, has been attending the Derby since he was born
The planning for the popular fundraising event known as the “Biggest Catfish Tournament West of the Mississippi” is in full swing, and the 2023 Derby is expected to be another successful event. Online entries are being accepted. In-person registration starts at noon on May 18. Derby fishing starts at noon on May 19 and ends at noon on May 21.
“We’re counting on another good year for catfishing, our local community and the overall Lake County economy,” Derby Director Dennis Locke said. “The recent rains are a welcome reprieve from past worries about low lake levels due to the long drought we’ve been experiencing,” he said. “We’re expecting in the neighborhood of 900 – 1,000 entries.”
Sponsored by the Clearlake Oaks – Glenhaven Business Association (CLOGBA), the annual event attracts catfishing enthusiasts throughout California and beyond. About a third of the entrants are locals, although, historically, the majority come from throughout California and other states. “It’s an extremely popular derby and many entrants attend year after year. This influx of visitors supports the local economy in multiple ways,” Locke said.
Gail Jonas, longtime Derby committee member and former Catfish Derby Committee Chair, had this to say. “This event is near and dear to our community. It brings families together for wholesome fun, boosts our local businesses, and has a positive ripple effect on our county-wide small, rural economy. This will be our 39th annual Catfish Derby. We’re very proud of what a few dedicated people do – year after year – to keep this tradition going.”
CLOGBA President Alvaro Valencia said a favorite aspect of the Derby is the award ceremony and festivities that occur on the last day. “Whether or not you enter the derby, it’s a perfect time to attend and enjoy the awards ceremony, food, beverages, music and camaraderie,” he said.
“It’s always exciting to see the happy faces of the winners – kids, and adults – as their names are called. Of course, it’s a fundraiser to support the local community, so come by anytime during the derby to purchase raffle tickets, t-shirts, and food to lend your support for this worthy event,” Valencia said.
In 2022, the derby raised $35,000. Valencia said the derby itself is a lot of fun, but knowing the proceeds go to support local programs for youth, seniors, schools, veterans, fire prevention and more is extremely rewarding.
Derby prizes total $10,000. Another $2,500 in prizes and merchandise, including three cash bonuses of $200, $100, and $50 will be awarded.
For adults, the prizes range from $5,000, 1st place to $40, 20th place. For kids, the Derby offers two categories of prizes for 10-year-olds and under and 11 – 15-year-olds. The prizes for both categories range from $100, 1st place to $10, 5th place.
Kids can also compete in the adult category but must pay the higher entry fee. Entry fees have not increased this year. Adults pay $50 ($60 if after 11 pm on May 12) and kids pay $10.
Registration, weigh-in and other activities will be at Derby Headquarters located at the Fire Station on 12655 East Hwy 20 in Clearlake Oaks. For more information, go to the website or the Derby Facebook Page, Catfish Derby In the Oaks, or call 707-596-0248.