Each year, more than a thousand anglers from all over the west head to Pleasant Valley Reservoir for the Blake Jones Trout Derby (l). Dave Luther of Palmdale (inset) landed this 7-pounder at the Derby last year. Photos by Deb Murphy
2012 will mark the 45th consecutive year that Bishop celebrates the sport of trout fishing by hosting an early-season derby bearing the name of legendary fisherman Blake Jones.
The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce said it expects upwards of 1,000 anglers from across the state to make their annual pilgrimage to Inyo County to participate in the Saturday, March 17 contest, which is one of the stateâ€™s largest annual single-day fishing events.
In preparation, the Chamber is working with the Department of Fish and Game and local businesses to ensure that there are fish to be caught, and prizes to be won.
The Blake Jones Derby is named for a local fishing legend who tirelessly promoted the Eastern Sierraâ€™s angling opportunities and revolutionized modern trout fishing worldwide.
According to event organizers, â€śitâ€™s fitting that the derby honors a man who was dedicated to promoting the sport of trout fishing in the Eastern Sierra.â€ť
Jones and his wife, Peggy, were avid anglers and their favorite fishing holes were the lakes and streams surrounding the Bishop area. The couple served as expert guides and instructors and, according to the Chamber of Commerce, they would never hesitate to stop along the road and help people fish.
â€śLegend has it that Jones was the creator of one of the worldâ€™s first bottled cheese baits in the 1950s, revolutionary because it stayed on the hook even when submersed in water,â€ť Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tawni Thomson said in a press release.
Jones was passionate about trout fishing and one of his greatest joys was turning others on to the joys of fishing in the Eastern Sierra, Thomson noted.
â€śItâ€™s in this spirit of turning anglers on to the plethora of year-round angling opportunities in the region that the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce continues to organize and promote the derby in Jonesâ€™ honor,â€ť she continued.
The 2012 event is slated for March 17, lucky Saint Patrickâ€™s Day, at Pleasant Valley Reservoir, eight miles north of downtown Bishop.
Prior to the derby, Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Lower Owens River are well stocked with Alpers and DFG trout.
The contest is a blind bogey competition, so everyone has equal chance to win. Each registered participant may enter up to five fish and if any of the fish weights match the blind bogey weight, theyâ€™ll be entered into a raffle to win prizes donated by local merchants. According to Thomson, last yearâ€™s winners took home more than $10,000 worth of fishing gear, float tubes, tackle, gift certificates and cash.
In addition to the blind bogey, there are categories for adults and kids and additional prizes are awarded for big fish, early bird entries and farthest traveled to the derby. Early registration is $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12.
For entry forms and more information, contact the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau (760) 873-8405 or visit www.bishopvisitor.com.