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'It's Insanity' Lake Isabella community gears up for fishing derby weekend

The Isabella Lake Fishing Derby is taking place from March 23 through March 25.
Posted at 5:41 PM, Mar 19, 2024

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KERO) — The Isabella Lake Fishing Derby is taking place from March 23 through March 25 and features the chance to win cash prizes.

  • Video shows campsites already lining the banks of Isabella Lake in anticipation for the fishing derby.
  • The Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce puts on the Isabella Lake Fishing Derby every year, and it brings tourists to the Kern River Valley who benefit the economy.


With the Lake Isabella Fishing Derby right around the corner — locals are preparing for the wave of tourism.

“Like twenty-five years,” said Weldon resident Thomas Mullens, talking about how many years he’s participated in the fishing derby.

He says the atmosphere of the valley changes over the weekend

“Oh it’s just insane, it’s insanity.”

The derby starts on March 23 and goes until March 25.

This week the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the event, has been in preparation mode.

“Yesterday we had four teams that dispersed approximately eight to ten thousand pounds worth of trout throughout the lake,” said Fred Clark, President of the Kern Valley Chamber of Commerce.

That doesn’t include the tagged fish, which comes with the opportunity for cash prizes.

The event brings tourism that is important to the Kern River Valley’s economy.

“It's a great thing for all of our local businesses, they’re going to see an influx of that tourist dollar hitting this Valley,” Clark said.

Business owners like Stayce Roberts definitely notice when it’s Fishing Derby weekend.

““When the fishing derby comes along, it’s a madhouse,” said Stayce Roberts, owner of the Grocery Outlet.

He says business booms at the Grocery Outlet leading up to and during the Derby.

“Is tourism an important demographic for you?” I asked.

“Absolutely, we rely on our locals, but we count on when it warms up like it is today, folks are going to come out of town because they love to come and enjoy the scenery, they love to go hiking.”

Steve Spradlin, who owns several Kern Valley businesses, says the derby helps the economy during the off-season.

“Do any of your businesses order certain stock for the derby, or increase stock of certain items?” I asked

“Oh yeah, certainly, because we do more business,”

“Restaurants will all be loaded, my store will be crankin’ Vons will be crankin,” Roberts said.

Those hoping to participate can register online up until the derby headquarters opens at 7 AM on Saturday. Mullens says on of his favorite parts is getting to connect with others,

“Everyone here has the same heartfelt feeling for what we all do. And who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky and catch a 10,00 dollar fish!”

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