Rain or shine, the 24th annual Fish Derby will kick off at Cachuma Lake in the Santa Ynez Valley on Saturday, April 27 and run through noon Sunday, April 28. With 8,000 pounds of planted trout for the fishing, anglers of all ages will find odds to be in their favor.

This year’s Derby will include prize categories for multiple types of fish such as crappie, bass, catfish, trout, and carp. The prize pool has been increased this year, according to the Nature Center, which means the chances of taking home cash prizes amounting to more than $5,000, plus thousands of dollars worth of merchandise prizes like fishing gear awarded by category and age, are good.

"It'll be a perfect weekend for fishing -- it won't be too hot and there won't be much wind," explained Executive Director of the Neal Taylor Nature Center Julie Anne McDonald. "Last year the weather was perfect and was one of our best events. We hope this weekend will be the same." 

The annual derby event is a major fundraising event benefiting the Neal Taylor Nature Center, a nonprofit organization located within the Cachuma Lake area. Funding sustains the learning center's cost free, nature-based youth programs and exhibits.

According to McDonald, the Center raised over $40K at last year's Derby and they are hopeful to hit that goal -- or better. "So far we have approximately 350 people registered for this event, so there's plenty more room," she said. 

McDonald says registrants can sign up throughout the event weekend. "You never know. You can register Sunday and catch the winning fish that morning," she said.

Registration forms are available online at www.TROUTDERBY.org or at the Cachuma Lake Park entry gate, store, marina or Nature Center. The fee for adults is $40; youth 4-15 years old is $10. All anglers 16 years and older must have a fishing license which may be purchased at the marina. 

Two flares will be fired off from the harbor to start the Derby fishing at 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 27 and to end it at noon on April 28. An awards program recognizing winners will commence at the Fireside Theater located at the Lake on Sunday at 1 p.m.

To make reservations for cabins, yurts, individual camp sites or full hook-up sites go to: www.sbparks.org/reservations or call (805) 686-5050. For other camping information call (805) 686-5054.

For more information about the Fish Derby, contact the Center at (805) 693-8381. 

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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