Families Reign Supreme at the 40th Annual Catfish Derby in the Oaks

Photo Courtesy: Tyson Wynn,1st place in the Up-to-10-Year category

Considered to be the biggest of its kind west of the Mississippi, the 3-day Catfish Derby closed to cheers on Sunday, May 19, the last day of the event. The big winners? The Mandujano family is from Healdsburg, California. Brothers Omar and Efrain both placed in the top tier.

Omar took first prize, $5,000, with his 27.68-pound catfish. His brother, Efrain. placed 4th, taking home $700, for his 24.43-pound catch.

Six members of the Mandujano family fished in the Derby. Not all placed but they fished together as a family, just as they’ve been doing for years.

 “We’ve all been fishing in this Derby as a family for a long time, but this is the first year my brother and I placed high on the leader board in the same year,” Omar said.

The brothers enjoy quibbling over who is the better fisherman. Efrain, the younger of the two said, “Our mom had me to teach my older brother to fish.” Later, drawing hard applause and laughter, Efrain wheeled Omar out on a makeshift 4-wheel wagon to claim his big cash prize. “It’s how we roll,” Efrain said.

When announcing Omar’s win Dennis Locke, Chair of the Derby, reminded the audience that Omar took 1st place in 2008, winning a Lowe fishing boat. Omar said the boat served the family well for many years.

“I’ve been fishing this Derby for 30 years. In fact, I began fishing the Derby before my son, Renato, was born,” Omar said.

Renato recalled fishing since he was old enough to hold a rod. “I couldn’t have been older than 4 when I started fishing with my dad,” he said.

The Mandujano’s fish for catfish, bass, crappie, salmon, and trout – mostly catch and release. “Usually we camp, this trip we stayed on the boat the entire time,” Renato said. “We’re a serious fishing family.”  

Renato is raising his son like his dad raised him.  

At 12 years old, Preyden fishes in the adult division. “My catch was not quite big enough to place this time but there’s always next year,” he said.

Continuing the family tradition, Omar said they would return next year. “You might say I’m addicted to fishing. I want to do better each time;  next year I want to catch a bigger fish,” he said.

But it’s more than that Omar said. “Fishing and camping was a way to introduce nature and the outdoors to my kids. To be here today with my brother – his kids, Diego, and Fabian – and mine, means so much. We’re a family who loves nature and fishing together.” 

Also continuing family tradition, a local family trio from Clearlake enjoyed a first this year – all scored wins. Matthew Ross won 6th place with his 23.04-pound catch; Kristal Harris placed 16 with her 20.89-catch; and Mathew Ross, Jr. placed 20 with his 20.52-pound catch. “We see this family every year,” Dennis said. “But this is the first time all 3 have placed on the leaderboard in the adult category.”

Also back this year were Ivy and Wyatt, who have been fishing the Derby from a very young age. Jack “Bear” Scott and mom Colleen along with other family and friends have been coming to the Derby for years. Ivy, Dennis recalled,  won 1st place in the 11–15-year category in 2017.  “That year she and brother Wyatt both placed, Wyatt won a 4th place award. In 2019 Ivy took a 3rd place award, also in the 11–15-year category.  Fast forward to 2024, and she’s graduating from high school. I hope we see her with the family again next year,” Dennis said.  

In a prior interview with parents Colleen and “Bear” Scott, they said winning is always nice but coming together every year as a family, supporting the kids and enjoying the sport, was most important and the reason they attend the Derby each year.

The Reordan’s of Lakeport – mom, dad, grandparents – were all smiles as Scarlett Reordan stepped up to receive the 1st prize award, $100, for her 20.82-pound catch in the 11 – 15-year category. This is Scarlett’s 2nd time winning a 1st place award, she also took 1st place In 2021 in the up to 10 category. “Great family and memories,” Dennis said. “We’re all so happy to see Scarlett take home another 1st prize award.”

The youngest to place this year hit high on the cuteness meter.  At just 3 years old, Tyson Wyn took 1st place in the up-to-10-year-old category with his 17.67-pound catch, taking home $100. The family drove in at 9 minutes to noon, just in time to make his catch count. “Mom and dad couldn’t have looked prouder,” Dennis said. The family lives in Clear Lake Park.

In addition to the Mandujano brothers, who took 1st and 4th place, top-tier winners in the adult category were Juan Lopez of Folsom, who placed 2nd with his 25.22-pound catch for a prize of $1,000; Michael Loijos of Upper Lake, who placed 3rd with his 24.91-pound catch for a cash award of $800; and Dan Fountain of Lathrop, who placed 5th with his 23.46-pound catch for a cash award of $600.

Closing out the event, Dennis said there were not as many registrations as last year, but over-all the fish were bigger and most fished as families.

“And as always, the crowd was bigger than the number that fished, swelling on the last day of the Derby to hear the results and congratulate the winners,” Dennis said. “For those of us who work on the Derby, every year is better than the last.”

Details of all wins and a host of photos can be found on catfishderby@clearlakeoaks.org and on Facebook, Catfish Derby at the Oaks, many impromptu photos are posted.

Curated by The Bloom Staff

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