18th Annual SMUD Trout Derby is coming March 17-18th!
Thousands of pounds of trout are up for grabs at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) 18th annual trout derby at Rancho Seco Recreational Area hosted by Angler’s Press Outdoors, where the heaviest trout will win cash and prizes, and take home a 14-foot aluminum boat package grand prize!
17th Annual SMUD Trout Derby draws 833 anglers!
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Rancho Seco Reservoir, a scenic 160-acre year round recreational facility nestled in the rolling countryside of Sacramento County between Galt and Ione, has hosted trout derbies every spring since 1993. This year the two-day SMUD Spring Trout Derby featured a huge turn out of 833 people, including both adults and children.
You don’t have to look hard to find Rancho Seco Reservoir, the popular fishery located off Highway 108 in South Sacramento County near Herald. The two huge cooling towers of the decommissioned nuclear plant dominate the horizon for miles as they rise out of the vineyard-studded hills of south Sacramento County like ancient megaliths from a lost civilization.
Rancho Seco Lake offers lots of bank and small boat access for anglers in search of rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crappie, redear sunfish and bluegill.
Just before the derby, Mount Lassen Fish Farm stocked the reservoir with 4,500 pounds of feisty rainbow trout and 500 pounds of trophy rainbows.
Anglers enjoyed beautiful spring weather and good fishing for big rainbows both days of the event, but the best fishing took place on Saturday. Fishermen caught fish from shore, from kayaks and from other small boats while tossing out Kastmasters, Rooster Tails, small jigs and lures and other lures. Anglers also bagged trout while bait fishing with PowerBait, Power Eggs and nightcrawlers.
“There was a phenomenal turnout, a lot of fish were caught and next year’s event will be even more epic,” said Sheldon Bright, Fish Sniffer staffer and organizer of the event with Vince Harris, owner of Angler’s Press, on behalf of SMUD.
The derby, like previous ones, featured three divisions: adults (17+), youth (11-16 yrs) and lids (10 and under).
Jerry Xiong won first place on day one by catching a 7.84 lb. rainbow from his kayak. He earned himself a boat package plus $100. The boat package was a 14 foot Tracker with a Minn Kota trolling motor, a “Rancho Seco special,” according to Bright.
SMUD Director Nancy Bui-Thompson and Jerry Xiong pose with his 7.84 lb. rainbow that earned him first place in the adult division of the first day of the SMUD Trout Derby on April 1.
Mike Ringler finished second by catching a 6.58 lb. trout, winning $75. Jay Xiong came in third place with a 5.34 lb. rainbow, winning $60, while Deng Vany placed fourth with a 5.18 lb. rainbow, winning $25.
Naimoua Moua placed fifth with a 4.91 lb. fish, going home with $25 and a 2 day park pass. Chris Faircloth placed sixth with a 4.91 lb. rainbow, winning $20 and a 1 day park pass. Mario Machado came in seventh, winning $20 and a 1 day park pass.
The eighth through tenth place winners were: (8) Cindy Dearth 4.52; (9) Dax Castro, 4.11; and (10) Owen Owens, 3.98.
Calilou Xiong won first place in the youth division with a 5.93 lb. rainbow, winning $50 and a 12 foot fishing kayak.
The second through sixth place youth winners were: (2) Mick Fritzsche, 4.01, $40; (3) Trevor Myers, 2.87, $30; (4) Cameron Ringler, 2.2, $20; (5) William Keller 1.91, $20; and (6) Jaiden McNeil, 1.3, $10 plus 1 day park pass.
Rodney Durrett won first place in the kids division with a 5.16 lb. rainbow, winning $35 for his efforts.
The second through eighth place winners were (2) Sauoa Fernandez, 3.62, $30; (3) Riley Graham, 2.78, $25; (4) Jack Epps, 2.57, $20; (5) Garrett Williams, 2.3, $15; (6) Ella Martino, 1.52; (7) A.J. Wood, 1.43; and (8) Trinity Grey, 1.4.
Jarred Ross won first place in the adult division on day two of the derby by catching a whopping 5.13 lb. rainbow. Like the day one winner, he won a 14 foot Tracker with a Minn Kota trolling motor, a “Rancho Seco special, and $100.
Al Ernst, SMUD’s Facilities and Maintenance Supervisor, congratulates Jarred Ross, the first place winner in the adult division on day two of the derby , in front of the14 foot Tracker with a Minn Kota trolling motor that Ross won.
Ross was fishing Power Bait from shore when he hooked the big trout. “I was excited after seeing a couple of big fish caught near me. Then I hooked my fish,” said Ross.
The second through tenth place winners were (2) Joe Hiss, 4.12, $75; (3) Angela Grey, 4.1, $60, (4) Tom Billmeier, 3.85, $25; (5) Nick Billmeier, 3.51, $25 + 2 day park pass; (6) Clarence Morla, 3.17, $20 + 1 day park pass; (7) Joey Billmeier, 2.93, $20 + 1 day park pass; (8) Mark Underwood, 2.41; (9) Gonzalo Nazario, 2.34; and (10) Andrew Trujillo, 2.3.
Ali Xiong won first place in the youth division with a 3.17 lb. trout, winning $50 and a kayak. He enticed the fish while tossing out a Kastmaster.
Jordan Alla topped the kids division with a 2.48 lb. rainbow, winning $35.
The second through sixth place winners were: (2) Jaxon Carlin, 2.3, $30, (3) Ryan Ancog, 1.81, $25; (4) David Ross, 1.77, $20; (5) Dylan Carlin, 1.73, $15; and Cash Richie, 1.63.
After the second day weigh ins, Al Ernst, SMUD’s Facilities and Maintenance Supervisor, said, “I want to thank everybody for attending today. For seventy years, SMUD has been community owned, that’s owned by you. I appreciate you being our owners.”
Supplied by the Folsom South Canal diverting water from the American River, Rancho Seco was built to serve as a source for emergency cooling water in the event of a nuclear accident. After the power plant was decommissioned in a ballot measure approved by the region’s voters in November 1990, the lake became a year-round recreational facility.
Rancho Seco not only kicks out huge trout, but also is legendary for the big Florida-strain largemouth bass that thrive in its fertile waters.
Clarence Morla, John Morla, and John Morla Jr. hold up three hefty rainbows that they caught from their Jacson Rancheria boat on day one of the SMUD Rancho Seco Trout Derby.
“Fish Chris” Wolfgram of Vacaville shattered the lake largemouth record when he caught and released an 18.4 lb. largemouth bass on April 10, 2003. The monster bucketmouth, one of the largest ever caught in northern California, sported a length of 29″ and a girth of 24.5″.
The largest bass are taken in the spring during the pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn periods. Anglers nail them while using Huddleston and other rainbow trout swimbaits, Senkos, swimbaits, plastic worms, spinnerbaits and jigs.
Rancho Seco is a lake with the potential for producing a state or world record largemouth bass. The lake has the three characteristics needed to produce record class fish: Florida-strain genes; conditions that allow the fish to reach large size; and a good food source, particularly planted rainbows.
The lake also features good populations of redear sunfish, black crappie and bluegill, along with channel catfish. Fishing for all four species is best for boaters, float tubers and shore anglers in the spring and summer.
On August 16, 2015, Brad McGarity of Galt set a new California state record for “hybrid sunfish” when he landed a fish weighing 1 pounds, 4 ounces and measuring 11 inches long and 11.25 inches in girth.
Ali Xiong won first place in the youth division with a 3.17 lb. trout, winning $50 and this kayak. He enticed the fish while tossing out a Kastmaster.