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Family fun at Saturday’s Indy Fishing Derby

June 10, 2014

A young buckaroo displays his catches at the Dehy Park weigh-in during a past Independence Fishing Derby. Photo courtesy Kelly Reade

This Saturday is a 15-year- old, time-honored tradition for families in the Eastern Sierra and beyond: the Independence Fishing Derby traditionally held on Father’s Day Eve.
With the Derby falling on Flag Day, June 14, participants sporting the flag will get a special prize to commemorate the day.
The Derby is an all-volunteer effort with sponsorship from the Friends of the Mt. Whitney Hatchery and financial assistance from Inyo County. “It’s for the family,” said Kelly Reade, one of seven volunteers who get the Derby up and running every year. While prizes are awarded in 10 categories for both adult and junior anglers, the focus is on relaxing, enjoying the day as a family and having fun. “We have families that have been coming for years,” Reade said. “We know a lot of the folks by name now.”
Another unique aspect to the Independence event is that it’s free. Fishermen have to register their fish (by 3 p.m. at Dehy Park) to be eligible for prizes, but there is no fee.
Those fish have to come from Indy waters, Independence Creek, Billy Lake, the Owens River or Symmes, Shepherd and Georges creeks and their respective sand traps. Prizes will be awarded for the heaviest trout, heaviest trout stringer, largest wild trout, largest catfish and largest bluegill. The latter two identify this derby as one of the only in the area with prizes for warm water catches.
“The prizes will be fishing gear,” said Reade. The Blind Bogey winner gets fishing gear and a $100 bonus. “We try to make sure all the kids who participate leave with their own goody bag.”
Folks can start registering at Dehy Park at 10 a.m. but the weigh-in stops at 3 p.m. with awards handed out at 4 p.m. While families are waiting for the results in the shade of the park, they’ll be entertained by Sandy and the High Country starting at 2 p.m.
Additional items will be available as part of the derby’s silent auction.
For more information, contact Reade at (760) 614-0044 or by email at Or, just show up for a great day of fishing.

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