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Fish list

Julie Saetre | Nov 18, 2019

A woman and a young boy pose with a winning fish and its prize: a US $50 bill.

Frank Talaro was fishing at California’s Courtright Reservoir on 1994 when he got an idea. He could turn his beloved hobby into a fundraiser for one of his favorite causes, Special Olympics. That was the beginning of the Kiwanis Special Olympics Trout Fishing Derby, which celebrated its 23rd year in July 2019. 

Each year, hundreds of participants gather at Wishon Lake in Fresno, California, hoping to catch one of the specially tagged trout worth US$25, $50 and $100 — and one fish carrying a $10,000 payoff. This year, the San Joaquin Hatchery donated over 3,500 rainbow trout, plus an additional 400 bearing the winning tags, and 517 participants set out to haul in a treasure.

The $10,000 trout remained elusive (only three people have made the big catch in the tournament’s history), but 32 other fish found their way to the bait, for an overall payout of $1,175. Those who snagged non-tagged trout competed for total inches of fish caught. In the junior category, Logan Murad, 11, won an 18-speed mountain bike donated by Kiwanis. The adult winner took home a portable grill donated by a local hardware store.

Better still, Special Olympics received an $8,000 donation from the event’s proceeds.

“Over the 22 years of the annual event, the combined 11 Kiwanis clubs in our Division 5 Fresno and Madera counties have contributed a total of $155,680 to the local Special Olympics organization,” Talaro says. “The derby has become our major annual fundraiser.”

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