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Get Ready for the 40th Annual Catfish Derby!

It’s Derby Time – the St. Clair’s

The Catfish Derby, known as the biggest west of the Mississippi, is about to launch.  The widely popular event in Clearlake Oaks runs from May 17 through the 19th when the winners are announced and the community joins in to enjoy some bar-b-que, catch up with friends and  celebrate the winners. 

Derby Headquarters is at the Clearlake Oaks Fire Department, 12655 E. Hwy 20. This year the largest fish caught in the adult division will bring  $5,000 to the lucky winner and $100 in each of the two kid divisions.  A total of $10,000 in prizes and raffle merchandise will be awarded.

“It’s looking to be another great fishing opportunity for lovers of the sport,” said Derby Chair Dennis Locke.  “Lake conditions have never been better and the catfish are biting!”

The Derby brings in people from near and far.  “Every year at Derby time we are bursting at the seams in the Oaks,” Locke said. “We’re expecting about 1,000 anglers and their families and friends to fill up nearby resorts, motels, air B&Bs and campgrounds.  County-wide  the economy gets a boost and our little town comes alive with the excitement and crush of visitors,” he said.  “It’s a beautiful sight to see!”

“The Derby is the signature project of the Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association and the pride of our small-town community,” said Mathew St. Clair,”  President of the Association. “All funds raised go right back into the community to support kids’ sports, educational programs and our seniors.  It’s a win-win event and we encourage everyone to participate – as an angler or supporter. The vibe is exuberant and contagious!”

Volunteers have been working on the planning details since November of 2023.  Locke said it takes about 70 volunteers from start to finish.  “We have friends around the lake that show up to help out. Nobody gets paid – we all just come together for the love of community – and, of course, catfishing,” he said.

Registration and check-in begin on Thursday at 12 noon and fishing starts at noon on Friday and concludes at noon on Sunday.  There’s still time to register online and for those that don’t preregister, Derby volunteers will be on site at Headquarters to register walk-ins.

This is the 40st Annual Catfish Derby. “For a small community like ours – about 2,200 residents – that’s a crowd,” said St. Clair.  “The outstanding lake conditions brought in the crowds last year and it’s shaping up to be another good year.” 

Locke estimates 80% fish as families and 60% of those registered are from outside the County, coming from all over the United States. Last year the Derby drew over a thousand anglers, their families, and friends.  “We expect a similar outcome this year.”

Many anglers bring along family that don’t register to fish but come to cheer on their dads, moms, other family members and friends. Last year, 15 members of the Parish family attended.  It was a special time for the family who gathered to honor the legacy of Albert Parish, Sr., a Derby faithful recently passed.  Gail Jonas, longtime former Derby Chair said “It’s families like the Parish’s that make our little town lite up.  I can’t wait to see the old-timers again,  and the new – especially the kids.”

Derby Prizes will be awarded in 3 categories; 1 for adult entries and 2 for youngsters. As is the tradition, there will be lots of raffles and great prizes. Derby T-shirts and hats will be on sale. For more information go to the website above or call the Derby hotline at 707-596-0248.

Curated by The Bloom Staff

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