11th annual charity fishing derby benefits North Tahoe grads | SierraSun.com

11th annual charity fishing derby benefits North Tahoe grads

Tripp Mickle, Sun News Service
Courtesy photoSteve Valdez holds his winning rainbow trout, which weighed in at five pounds at the time it was caught. Valdez has won the derby's rainbow trout division three times.
ALL |

Whoever said fishing has as much to do with luck as talent should take a good look at the winners of the 11th annual Jake’s on the Lake charity fishing derby on June 5.

Team Tahoe, which included Mike Kise, Rob Ransom and Billy Ward, landed the biggest mackinaw for the second time in the derby’s history.

Michael Nielsen of South Lake Tahoe pulled in the largest brown trout, at 2 pounds, 13 ounces, earning him his second victory in the brown contest.

And Steve Valdez of Truckee reeled in a five-pound rainbow trout to win his third rainbow trout competition.

“There are certain fishermen that are more keen than others,” Nielsen said. “You need a little luck on your side to get it on that day.”

Valdez hooked up to his rainbow trout shortly after 9 a.m. while toplining along the North Shore.

“I was sweating it and nervous because it was derby day and I wasn’t catching anything in my honey holes,” he said. “I had to switch to another area, and it was 9 o’clock before I got hooked up.”

Even when he pulled the 27-inch rainbow into the boat with the help of Brian Garcia, Valdez didn’t believe it was a winner. His friends Don Gravarno and Al Younger had been catching six and eight-pound rainbow trout a week before, and he believed that was the mark to beat. But, when he returned to Jake’s, no one could top his catch and he took home the $250 prize.

“What’s nice to me is it’s a big derby that’s open to everybody,” Valdez said. “I’m fighting guide boats and everybody and I’m still doing it. I’m floating pretty high.”

Team Tahoe, the big mack winners, caught their 19-pound mackinaw at 7:15 a.m. using lead core line near Tavern Hole. It was Rob Ransom who reeled it in for the $1,000 prize.

“(Everyone) was saying, ‘Come on little girl, you going to get that thing in,'” Ransom said, “but I knew I had a good one on. It was one of those that was just heavy and wouldn’t come up.”

Nielsen caught the brown trout toplining near the Logan Shoals area. He spent most of his morning frustrated, catching only mackinaw, but he hooked up to his brown at 6:30 a.m. Though the fish weighed almost six pounds less than the one he won with in 1998, he was pleased.

“I had some big ones earlier in the week, but I caught the only two entered,” Nielson said. “I got lucky.”

More than 150 participants turned out to participate in the event to help raise money for North Tahoe High graduates.