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The Derby began on April 23rd at 6 a.m. and ended at 12 noon on April 24, 2022.

565 contestants of all ages fished Cachuma Lake during the tournament hoursand were also able to fish from shore at any time during the Derby including Saturday night. Nature Center volunteer, retired Battalion Chief Mike Marlow, fired the flare off at 6 a.m. at the harbor to start the Derby on Saturday.

This year’s event was attended by anglers of all ages with 565 registered to fish in the Derby and many others along for a glorious weekend of perfect weather for camping and fun at Cachuma Lake & the Nature Center.

The contest was held on Saturday, April 23rd and Sunday, April 24th with 565 kids and families registered! The weekend weather started out with light rain, cold, and wind on Friday with the weather on Saturday and Sunday being perfect – warm, light breeze and sunny!  Best of all lots of BIG fish were caught making for happy anglers of all ages.

The Fish Derby is a benefit fund raiser for the Neal Taylor Nature Center which is located at Cachuma Lake and offers programs and exhibits on the Santa Ynez River Watershed.

Over 50 volunteers planned and operated the derby, raffle and children’s activities netting over $33,000 through sponsorship, donations and registrations with an additional $8,000 in merchandise donations for door prizes and raffle prizes.  

The Awards program held on Sunday, April 24th at 1 PM was emceed by the amazingly talented father and daughter team of Captain David Bacon & Captain Tiffany Vague. Captain Bacon and Captain Vague did a fantastic job with Barbara & Dave Hale, Jeff McDonald, and Julie McDonald on stage to help pass out raffle, door prizes and checks to the cash winners.

Beautiful Custom Rod

A highlight of the program was when Captain David Bacon auctioned off his daughter’s high performance, hand wrapped and designed rod that she handcrafted for this event. Tiffany is a skilled fisherwoman and an artist. She has melded these two passions and skills into being one of the top handmade, custom rod designers in the world! The rod was hand crafted by Tiffany and made for fresh water and/or ocean fishing. This beautiful rod was auctioned off and the winning bid was made by Vince Gomez of Santa Ynez, California.

A special thank you to Captain Tiffany Vague for this generous donation.

Other Highlights – The winner of the oldest angler award – Gust Ballas, Sr., age 93 of Santa Barbara donated his winnings back to the Nature Center.  Later, Gust won a “door” prize of a beautiful rod & reel and gave it to a young boy at the program.  The Fish Derby Awards program is an event filled with generosity from the many community merchants that donate as well as the audience.  The afternoon was filled with hooting, peanuts being distributed by the “Gang on the Hill” led by “peanut” Pam and hot dogs being given out by “hotdog” Heather. This all while emcees Captain David Bacon and Captain Tiffany Vague announced the winners of this year’s 25th Annual Fish Derby!

Top Prize Winners

$599 Heaviest Trout Caught

Winner: Ron Hill, age 64 from Ojai

Trout / 7.16 lbs / 21.75 inches

Donated by

Jerry & Sandi Witcher

$300 2nd Heaviest Trout Caught

Winner: Issac Rodiquez, age 41 from Lompoc

Trout / 5.08 lbs. / 20.5 inches

Donated by   

Charles Faulding

$599 Heaviest Bass Caught

Winner: Gust Ballas, Jr, Age 66 from Olympic, WA

Bass / 6.2 lbs. / 22 inches

Donated by

Judy Duncan & Jim McDonald

$300 2nd Heaviest Bass Caught

Winner: Wayne West from Lompoc

Bass / 3.12 lbs./ 20 inches

Donated by

Jane Okon & Susan Andrews

$599 Heaviest Crappie Caught

Winner: Mark Silva, Age 63 from Santa Maria

Crappie / 2.66 lbs. / 16 inches

Donated by

Denni Anderson

$300 2nd Heaviest Crappie Caught

Winner: Mark Silva, Age 63 from Santa Maria

Crappie / 2.56 lbs. / 16 inches

Donated by

Julia Wilkerson

$599 Heaviest Catfish Caught

Winner: Anthony Soares, Age 11 from Nipomo

Catfish / 6.94 lbs. / 24 inches

Donated by

     Dr. Lowell & Shirley McLellan

$300 2nd Heaviest Catfish Caught

Winner: Matt Marquez, Age 30 from Lompoc

Catfish / 5.60 lbs. / 23.5 inches

Donated by

Dr. Sey Kinsell

$599 for Heaviest Carp Caught

Winner: Pete Dasis from Lompoc

Carp / 3.5 lbs./ 15 inches

Donated by

Jose and Judy Gonzalez 

$100 THE Neal Taylor “Young Angler Award”

First Catch by an angler 15 years or younger on

$50 Sat.

Winner: Cash Franco age 12 from Lompoc

Trout/ 3.2 lbs. / 21 inches

$50 Sun.

Winner: Josiah Porraz age 8 from Santa Maria

Trout / 4.36 lbs. / 22 inches

Donated by

David & Barbara Hale

$100 Visit the Nature Center Raffle

Winner:  Marqueda Bacon

Donated by

      Dwight & Beverly Morey

$100 Heaviest Fish caught by Girl 11-15 yrs.

Winner: Kayla Munoz age 15 from Carpinteria

Trout / 4.02 lbs. / 21.75 inches

Donated by

Lois Cofiell

$50 2nd Heaviest Fish caught by Girl

Winner: Lila Waterfall age 13 from Santa Barbara

Trout / 2.08 lbs. / 19.5 inches

Donated by

Tommie Miller

$100 Heaviest Fish caught by Boy 11-15 yrs.

Winner: Anthony Soares III age 11 from Nipomo

Catfish / 6.94 lbs. / 24 inches

Donated by

Lois Cofiell

$50 2nd Heaviest Fish caught by Boy 11-15 yrs.

Winner: Hudson MacLeod age 14 from Santa Barbara

Trout/ 3.22 lbs. / 18.5 inches

Donated by

Tommie Miller

$25 3rd Heaviest Fish caught by Boy 11-15 yrs.

Winner: Cash Franco age 12 from Lompoc

Catfish/ 3.2 lbs. / 21 inches

Donated by

Rudi & Hilde Bender

$50 The Dutch Wilson Prize (the fish caught by the oldest angler)

Winner: Gust Ballas, Sr. age 93 from Santa Barbara

Trout / 3.0 lbs. / 19.75 inches

Donated by

Jill Moulton & Dr. Craig Juratsch

$25 each plus Rod & Reel to 5 kids 10 yrs. & under for Heaviest Fish Caught

Donated by

David and Barbara Hale and Hook, Line & Sinker

Winner #1: Jared Davis, Jr. – age 7 from Lompoc

Catfish / 1.5 lbs. / 15 inches

Winner #2: Bronwyn Waterfall age 9 from Santa Barbara

Trout / 2.3lbs. / 18.5 inches

Winner #3: Sebastian Stark age 5 from Ventura

Trout / 3.2 lbs. / 19.75 inches

Winner #4: Amelia Belluz age 10 from Lompoc

Trout / 1.44 lbs. / 15 inches

Winner #5: Brooklyn Shaw age 10 from Lompoc

Bass / 1.86 lbs / 15.25 inches

Rod & Reel to the next 5 kids 10 yrs. and under for Heaviest Fish Caught

Winner #6: Adilyn Batchelor age 6 from Santa Maria

Crappie / 1.08 lbs. / 13.5 inches

Winner #7: Dominic Vallente age 10 from Santa Barbara

Bass / 1.4 lbs. / 15 inches

Winner #8: Elly Thomas age 9 from Atascadero

Bass / 1.2 lbs. / 14 inches

Winner #9: Novan Stark age 10 from Santa Barbara

Trout / 1.3 lbs. / 14 inches

Winner #10: Delaney Curtis age 8 from Goleta

Bass / 2.52 lbs. / 19.5 inches

10 Rods & Reels

Donated by

Hook, Line & Sinker

The Fish Derby is the major fundraiser for the Neal Taylor Nature Center which is a non-profit organization that operates the Nature Center


A Fundraising Benefit for the

Neal Taylor Nature Center

a Nonprofit Organization, and in Cooperation with Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

Major Derby Sponsors

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

Los Rancheros Pobres

Los Rancheros Pobres, in memory of John Henigin

Royal Coachman

Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club

Marty & Connie Silver

Derby Sponsor

Judy Duncan,

Jerry & Sandi Witcher

Dr. Lowell & Shirley McLellan

Jose & Judy Gonzalez

Denni Anderson, Charles Faulding

Mechanics Bank

Los Alamos Valley Men’s Club

Rotary Club of Solvang

Rocky Mountain Recreation Co.

Stacey Myers, Julia Wilkerson

Mark & Paula Bottiani

Dr. Sey Kinsell

MarBorg Industries

Thank you to our volunteers and many generous donors!


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