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Terrific trouting at Big Bear Lake
BY BLAKE WARREN
WON Staff Writer
Now in its 12th year, popular event looking at improved fishing and potential big weights come Oct. 1-2
A KLAMATH 16-FOOT EXW armed with a Mercury 40hp motor is once again the Grand Raffle Prize at TroutfesT.
BIG BEAR LAKE — If what’s been happening at Big Bear Lake this spring and early summer is any indication of what is to come on Oct. 1-2 when the 12th annual Western Outdoor News TroutfesT rolls around — and it’ll be here before we know it — Bear Lake: many more targets, bigger trout, much better fishing — it’s some pretty simple math to process.
The pair of 15-plus-pound rainbows caught in recent weeks also sparks one’s intrigue towards whether there might be a potential new lake-record trout out there swimming around that could make some big noise in Big Bear in the near future. The current record has been somewhat debated over the years — many old-time Big Bear folks lean with the reported 19.75-pound rainbow caught and documented in 1931, while the officially recognized lake record stands as the 18.69-pound trout caught Memorial Day Weekend of 2009 by lady angler Erin Dominquez of Trabuco Canyon. The previous “official” standing record prior to Dominguez’s record ’bow was a 14.69 pounder landed in 1995. So two fish over 15 in a three-week span now has a little context and historical perspective. Besides, four 18 pounders were planted in late May — and none have yet been caught to this point.
SUPER HAWG — This pig of a Big Bear Lake rainbow was a legitimate trophy for 12-year-old Collin Crilly, right, of Temecula, going 15 pounds, 6 ounces and caught on a Rapala Flat Rap in late June. Pictured with Collin are brother Patrick, left, and Fish Big Bear deckhand Sean Rabago. It’s just one of many big fish caught this spring and summer at the lake. PHOTO COURTESY OF CURT DILLS
There’s no questioning that the last couple TroutfesTs have been a little lackluster as far as the bite’s been. The 2015 edition of the event saw just three trout over two pounds caught and full limits somewhat challenging to come by over the course of the two-day derby. Whether that’s been due to the most recently-stocked fish not acclimating quickly enough, unfortunate timing or just plain-and-simple bad luck is anybody’s guess and up for debate. But there’s no question that there is more than ample reasons to be optimistic about this year’s TroutfesT in early October.
Aside from the fishing side of things, TroutfesT has always leaned less toward competition and more toward family-style fun. The fishing should most definitely be on the rise come October, but the same great aspects of the event that make TroutfesT the TroutfesT will be there in fold. A weekend of fishing and simply being outside with family and friends, plenty of great prizes up for grabs and the realistic chance of towing a brand new boat and motor back down the mountain when all is said and done.
Once again, a 16-foot Klamath aluminum rigged by Quality Performance Marine with a Mercury 40hp Four-Stroke on an EZ Loader trailer will be the grand raffle prize — not a bad walkaway to say the least for the lucky TroutfesT angler who scores the new rig via the modest $75 entry. Valued at $21,000, the Klamath/Mercury package is a true gem of a fishing boat sure to create lots of good memories for years to come in the case of the fortunate TroutfesTer who has his or her number called at the end of the awards ceremony. Last year’s winner, Bill Burrows, was the fated one to hold the winning wristband, and he caught just one stocker trout in the tough bite, proving you can walk away from TroutfesT a big winner no matter how you score on the fishing side of the ledger.
DOUBLE-DIGIT TROUT have been showing frequently so far this season at Big Bear Lake, a good sign of holdover success from last year’s pen releases at the lake. This 11½ pounder ate a Rapala east of Gilner Point in mid-May for Daniel Dominguez III.
Also set to be raffled off is a Sea Eagle Explorer 300x inflatable kayak along with the new QuikRow Rowing Frame, making for an ideal portable fishing platform that is a breeze to transport to your favorite fishing holes. The Sea Eagle raffle is its own entity, and you can up your odds of winning the new kayak by simply purchasing any Panther Martin lures from now until the event.
Landing a lunker rainbow at TroutfesT could pay off big time, as a $250 lure pack from Yo-Zuri is going out for the biggest overall trout and a mount of the big trout by Global Fish Mounts, along with an awesome destination trip that is currently in the works. At Sunday’s awards ceremony, this year’s general raffle will include Rapala lure prize packages, Okuma rods and reels, a pair of FoodSaver units, Costa Sunglasses, Plano tackle boxes and Frabill trout nets. Goodie bags filled with Frog Togg Chili Pads, Thomas Buoyant and Panther Martin lures, Hi-Seas mono and tournament shirts and hats will also go out to the first 600 TroutfesT anglers at registration. WON is also working on a number of different additional prizes that may range from free boat rentals from area marinas, Big Bear guide trips and saltwater sportfishing trips, so be sure to stay tuned for future announcements. And as usual, plenty of blind bogey cash awards will be dished out as well, so catching and weighing in a rainbow of any size at TroutfesT can end up paying big dividends.
One of the off-the-water home bases of the two-day TroutfesT will once again be at Big Bear Mountain Brewery for a second straight year. The brew house will be offering up 50-cent Budweiser drafts and $2 microbrews over the weekend, along with 50-percent off their Munchies Menu for all TroutfesT anglers with a valid wristband. The brewery is a great place to end a fun day of fishing on an even higher note.
ANGLER BOB HEPP of Victorville walked away with a fishing trip to Alaska, a massive Yo-Zuri lure prize package and a Global Fish Mount for weighing in the biggest ’bow of TroutfesT 2015 — could it be you this year?
The name of the game remains the same for the 12th edition of the event. There will again be four divisions: Adult Male, Adult Female, Junior Male and Junior Female. The top five anglers in each division will receive TroutfesT trophies and prizes, with the biggest overall trout good for a minimum of a huge Yo-Zuri lure package and a soon-to-be-announced destination trip — last year’s big fish was good for a five-night stay at Frontier Lodge with three days of fishing in Sitka, Alaska for Bob Hepp of Victorville, and you have as good of a shot as anyone to claim this year’s trip so long as you wet a line the first couple days of October.
So clear your calendar and lock in your entry for TroutfesT 2016 now and make sure you’re a part of this year’s annual festivities “on the hill.” With the numbers of fish that have been stocked to date, coupled with the countless quality catches and great season Big Bear Lake’s had thus far, things are certainly lining up for the TroutfesT to have a serious bounce-back year on the fishing front — and the prizes are plentiful as always.
It’s going to be another fun-filled weekend when the calendar page flips to October, so don’t miss out. Worst case scenario? You get to spend a couple days trout fishing in the alpine setting of the Big Bear Lake and the scenic San Bernardino Mountains with family and friends. Best case scenario? You do the exact same thing, but you’re leaving Sunday evening with a brand new 16-foot boat in tow. Pretty tough not to call the whole thing one big win-win…
Sign up for the 2016 Big Bear Lake TroutfesT online by CLICKING HERE, call Billy Egan at (949) 366-0248 or Lori Twilegar at (949) 366-0030, ext. 26.
See you in October!
TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR Billy Egan gets a little help from an adorable TroutfesTer at last year’s awards ceremony’s raffle drawings.
IS IT YOUR turn to have your number called and take home this year’s Klamath/Mercury boat and motor package? Bill Burrows was pretty pumped to take home the grand raffle prize boat a year ago “on the hill.”
YOUNGSTERS ARE A major part of the annual TroutfesT and epitomize what the event’s all about. Here, Julia Olivas, then 4, of Huntington Beach, rocks out with WON sales rep Connor Johnson after weighing in her trout on Day One last year.
WHO KNOWS WHAT the weather will be like when the calendar flips to October, but if these past few months are any indication of how the fishing may be, there could be some much bigger weights checked in at this year’s TroutfesT.
THE FISHIN’ GUYS at Big Bear Sporting Goods are getting in a lot of photography work with nice rainbows like this one making their way to the shop frequently in recent months.
A YO-ZURI prize package worth $250 will go to the angler who catches the biggest overall trout at this year’s event.
2016 Big Bear Lake October TroutfesT Itinerary
Friday, Sept. 30 — Anglers check-in at the Big Bear Visitors Center from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (630 Bartlett Road, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315; TEL: 1-800-4 BIG BEAR). Anglers will receive their wristband with raffle number on it, goodie bag, copy of rules and itinerary, and most importantly, have their raffle number placed into a raffle bin, which makes them eligible to win prizes, including the Klamath 16-foot EXW model boat with a 40 hp four-stroke Mercury motor and EZ Loader trailer package courtesy of Klamath Boats and Mercury Motors and rigged by Quality Performance Marine, valued at $21,000. Late sign-ups, if any are available, will also be taken at this time, with a $15 late fee assessed.
Saturday Oct. 1 — Late angler check-in at the Big Bear Visitors Center (630 Bartlett Road, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315; TEL: 1-800-4 BIG BEAR) from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. It is strongly recommended, however, that you use the Friday evening check-in, as how quickly we can get you in and out on Saturday morning will depend on how many people show up at the late check-in.
Fishing will begin on Saturday morning, Oct. 1 at 6:30 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. The official tournament scales, located at the Big Bear Marina parking lot, (500 Paine Ct., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315; TEL: 1-909-866-3218 BigBearMarina.com) will be open from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Anglers not in line by 4 p.m. will not have their fish weighed and their catch will not count towards that day’s competition. Once you weigh fish, you are officially done for the day and cannot weigh additional fish.
During the weigh-in on Saturday, various TroutfesT sponsors will have their products on display.
Sunday Oct. 2 — Fishing will begin on Sunday morning, Oct. 2 at 6:30 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. Scales will be open at the Big Bear Marina parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anglers not in line by 2 p.m. will not have their fish weighed and their catch will not count towards that day’s competition. Once you weigh fish, you are done for the day and cannot weigh additional fish. Each angler may weigh only 5 fish per day. The TroutfesT BBQ will be held from 1:00 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Big Bear Marina while WON staff is organizing the final standings.
The raffle prize drawing and awards ceremonies will commence around 3:30 p.m. in the Big Bear Marina parking lot.
WON will be awarding 1st through 5th place trophies and prizes for the top adult male, top adult female, top junior male (under 16 years of age), top junior female (under 16 years of age) and overall big fish. Thousands of dollars in raffle prizes will be raffled off to those in attendance. You must be present to win. The Blind Bogie cash prizes will also be awarded on Sunday. The awards ceremony will end with the grand raffle prize of the $21,000 Klamath boat and 40 hp Mercury motor package with EZ Loader trailer. Awards should be over no later than 5-5:30 p.m. to allow everyone the chance to get down the hill before dark.
Since there is no seating in the Big Bear Marina parking lot, it is highly recommended that you bring folding lawn/beach chairs.
Additionally, due to the crowd size, no dogs will be allowed on Big Bear Marina property during the TroutfesT award ceremonies.
Private boaters launching vessels on Big Bear Lake are required to obtain a daily use permit from the Big Bear Municipal Water District. These permits run $35 for one day or $55 for two days. You may obtain permits at: Big Bear Marina, Holloway’s Marina, Big Bear Municipal Water District, BBMWD East Launch Ramp.
Additionally, due to the Quagga Mussel invasion in the west, all boaters will be subject to a boat inspection prior to being allowed to launch on the lake. Contact the BBMWD office at (909) 866-5796 or visit bbmwd.org for further inspection details.
As the Big Bear October TroutfesT has become the most popular fishing event on Big Bear Lake over the years, parking has become an issue. At the request of the City of Big Bear Lake and the Big Bear Marina, we ask that anglers park only in locations marked for our participants.
These are a non-native, invasive species that were introduced to the U.S. in the mid-’80s by a ship transporting cargo from the Black Sea. Since that time, they have slowly spread throughout the Great Lakes drainage. The end result is billions in damage to man made structures, decimation of fisheries, and an overall negative impact on the ecosystem.
In January of 2007, Quagga Mussels were discovered in Lake Mead, Nevada. This is the first time they have been found west of the Rockies. Since this time, they have spread throughout the Colorado River chain and into many Southern California Lakes fed by this water source. As a result of this spread, many water agencies are adopting a variety of methods in dealing with the Quagga — methods that have gone as far as closing lakes to the public.
Western Outdoor News, in conjunction with the Big Bear Municipal Water District, urges you as a boat owner to take the time to familiarize yourself with boat cleaning procedures prior to coming to Big Bear Lake. For information on boat cleaning requirements and procedures and the Quagga Mussel crisis, please visit www.bbmwd.org or www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Quagga-Mussels. Thanks for helping to prevent the spread of this alien species.
2016 Big Bear October TroutfesT Official Rules
Contestants may fish from shore, float tube, canoe, kayak, boat, or any other legally-permissible vessel provided they meet all local, state, and federal regulations.
All boats, including float tubes, canoes, and kayaks used during the TroutfesT must be properly outfitted with the USCG-mandated equipment for their vessel, which may include but is not limited to: anchors, running lights, throw cushions, life vests, signal devices, oars and bailing devices. All vessels must also possess current state registration stickers if required.
Contestants using their own vessels must obtain a special permit, which is obtained through the Big Bear Municipal Water District office prior to the contest. Vessels are also subject to a Quagga Mussel inspection prior to launch on Big Bear Lake.
All participants under 13 years of age fishing from a vessel 26 feet or less are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest (PFD) during on-the-water tournament hours. See dbw.ca.gov for details concerning life vests.
At the time of check-in, all TroutfesT contestants will be issued a wristband with their raffle number on it. These wristbands must be worn for the duration of the event and should not be removed until the close of the contest at 6:00 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2015.
Pre-fishing with a licensed guide is permitted up until 5 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2016. Other than providing emergency assistance, no fishing guides licensed on Big Bear Lake may participate, or in any way assist other TroutfesT participants during the contest period.
All California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations will apply to the TroutfesT. All contestants 16 years of age or older will be required to possess and carry a valid California fishing license. Any angler cited as being in violation of California or Federal Fish and Game laws will be disqualified from the TroutfesT.
All fish submitted for weight during the TroutfesT must be taken from the waters of Big Bear Lake during the official contest hours. Fish brought in from outside of Big Bear Lake as judged by the tournament staff will result in angler disqualification. All fish must be caught live, with rod and reel, fair game hooked, per California Department of Fish & Wildlife regulations. No snagged fish will be accepted. California Fish and Wildlife regulations may be viewed online at Wildlife.ca.gov.
All California Department of Boating & Waterways and all local Big Bear Lake Municipal Water District boating regulations must be observed during the tournament. Any boat operator cited by local, state, or federal agencies for violating boating laws during the tournament will be disqualified.
Lake Closures — Big Bear Lake will be closed to TroutfesT contestant fishing from 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 to 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 1. The lake will again close to TroutfesT contestant fishing on Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. and reopen on Oct. 2 at 6:30 a.m. It will close again on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. Contestants may be on the water during off-limits times, but are not allowed to have lines in the water. Anglers found fishing during the off limits period will be disqualified from the TroutfesT.
Official Contest Hours — The TroutfesT will start at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 and cease at 4 p.m. on Oct. 2. To facilitate vessel launching, anglers may be on the water earlier than this, but MAY NOT have any lines in the water. Scales will open Saturday at 12:00 p.m. in the parking lot of the Big Bear Marina and close at 4:00 p.m. All anglers who are in line prior to 4:00 p.m. will have their fish weighed. On Sunday, Oct. 2, the contest will start at 6:30 a.m. and cease at 2:00 p.m. Oct. 2. Scales will open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 2:00 p.m. Again, all anglers in line prior to 2:00 p.m. will have their fish weighed. The tournament director is the keeper of the official event time.
Limits/Size — Trout submitted for weight during the TroutfesT must be a minimum of 10 inches in overall length (from tip of nose to tip of tail). All fish under 10 inches as determined by our weigh staff will not be included in the total weight. Each angler in the TroutfesT may weigh 5 trout per day. Once you weigh your fish, you are done for the day and may not submit any additional fish for inclusion to your daily weight. You may not go back out fishing once you have weighed your fish.
Unless cooperating jointly, all boats must maintain a distance of 50 feet between them when anchored or drift fishing. Boats that are trolling are exempt from this rule. There is no minimum distance for shoreline anglers.
The Tournament Director has the sole discretion to disqualify any catch for any reason deemed to violate any tournament rules or the spirit of the competition. Decisions of the Tournament Director are final and may not be appealed. All anglers are responsible for weighing in their OWN fish, and may not pass or hand off any fish to anyone else.
Handing off fish to junior anglers will not be accepted, and if you are caught handing off a fish, both anglers are subject to immediate disqualification. Protests must be filed in writing with the Tournament Director no later than 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 2 to be considered.
Divisional Prizes — Merchandise prizes will be awarded to the top-5 finishers in each of the Adult Male, Adult Female, and Junior’s divisions based upon total weight at the close of the competition. The largest trout of the tournament will also receive a trophy and merchandise. Junior divisions consist of anglers under the age of 16. All divisional winners must be present to receive their prizes or the merchandise portion of their prizes will be donated to the general raffle.
Ties — In case of a tie based upon weight, the greater number of fish caught over the course of the two-day event will determine the winner. In case the anglers each caught the same number of fish, the winner will be determined by their entry date. The earliest entry date will win the tie-breaker, so sign up early!
Raffle Prizes — All anglers as a part of their entry will have their raffle number (from their wristband) placed into a raffle bin. Raffle numbers will be drawn and raffles will be awarded to those persons who are present. Contestants who are not present will forfeit their prize. All raffle numbers will be placed back into the raffle bin prior to the Grand Prize drawing of the Klamath boat/Mercury Motor and EZ Loader trailer package.
Blind Bogey Contest — Each person entered in the TroutfesT is a part of the Blind Bogey contest. $20 of each entry fee is allocated for this contest. 75 percent of all blind bogey monies will go to the Big Bear Municipal Water District and will be used solely for restocking Big Bear Lake with trout. The remaining 25 percent will be distributed to participating anglers in the form of cash prizes. Blind Bogey prize drawings will be held Sunday during the awards ceremonies.