Blake Jones Trout Derby is Saturday, March 14th at Pleasant Valley Reservoir
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Held every March since 1968, The Blake Jones Trout Derby is always held the weekend after the Fred Hall Sports Show in Long Beach. The site of the derby is along the Owens River, just below the Pleasant Valley Reservoir, six miles north of Bishop.
Put on by the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, this pre-season event is a great chance to wet your line and hone your fishing skills while getting a chance to win big prizes!
Fishing during the derby is allowed in the reservoir and along the river only as all others waters are closed until the last Saturday in April. Loads of trout are planted just before the derby by both Inland Aquaculture Group and the DFW (formally DFG). You can enter your catch in any number of categories including "Blind Bogey" for a chance to win your part of over $10,000 in prizes including high quality rod & reel combos, float tubes, custom lures, lodging, dinners and other goodies from local merchants and friends of the Bishop Chamber.
Prize categories include:
During the derby, you are allowed to fish in both the Pleasant Valley Reservoir and any section of the lower Owens River (except the catch & release Wild Trout area) and bring your catch to the derby headquarters at the reservoir to have them weighed by Hal and the crew.
Each participant receives five "fish cards" so that one can enter up to five fish (the legal limit) in the contest to increase the chance of winning. Everyone's fish cards are put into the hopper and those that match the Blind Bogey weight will win prizes.
The Blind Bogey fish last year weighed 11oz. (caught by a secret fisherman two days before the derby) and lucky fishermen who catch this size fish
will be put into the drawing to win more prizes!
Who was Blake Jones?
Whenever you bait your hook with Powerbait or any of the other modern cheese baits, you can thank the late Blake Jones. Jones invented cheese bait which was unique when it was introduced back in the 1950s. Before Blake Jones came along anglers had to use Velveeta cheese spread or cut small pieces from a block of cheese which easily fell off the hook when immersed in water. Blake's special cheese bait stayed on the hook even during heavy casting.
But Blake Jones was probably best known as one of the legendary anglers Bishop. Along with his wife, Peggy, he fished all over the high country and taught hundreds of people how to fish the lakes and streams of the High Sierra. Longtime local resident and business owner Don Barrett explained. "They were the type of people who would never hesitate and help people fish. They might hand someone a jar of bait and show them how to use it. They were just that way."
The couple took their knowledge of fishing the local waters to various trade shows in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Francisco. With his charismatic personality, Jones became an outstanding spokesman for Bishop and the Eastern High Sierra and helped turn Bishop into a vacation destination.
The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce which had been holding an annual fishing derby since 1968 decided to honor Jones for his work and dedication by renaming the derby after him. Unfortunately, Blake Jones died on June 14, 1987 before the first derby bearing his name took place.
Marvin Jones said: "My father was a serious fisherman and he always wanted to help someone. He was a good public relations man. He always wanted to be sure the other person always caught a fish. He went to a lot of work to fish."