19-pound Mac earns $1,000 for angler
More than 150 anglers took to Tahoe’s waters early Sunday and Saturday morning to see who could pull the biggest fish from the big, blue lake.
It’s called the Big Ol’ Fishin’ Derby – a cash-prize competition, hosted by Camp Richardson Resort.
In the end, angler Mike Nielsen, of South Lake Tahoe, took the bragging rights for pulling in an 18.75-pound Mackinaw trout – and a $1,000 cash purse.
“It was about 6:15 a.m. – the first fish of the day – and right away we knew it was big,” Nielsen said. “You could just tell.”
Nielsen, who works as a fishing guide on the lake, said he used a flat-fish lure to capture the taste buds of the 36-inch fish and then spent the next 20 minutes reeling it aboard his fishing boat.
“It was pure adrenaline,” he said.
But it wasn’t just the professionals who were wrestling the fish this weekend.
Judy Tobin, in her first time fishing on the lake, pulled in a 4-1/2 pound Mackinaw Saturday and now says she’s the one who is hooked.
“It was my first time,” she said. “But definitely not my last.”
Her fish won her the title for the largest fish caught by a woman, but that didn’t pay out any prizes other than a tasty dinner.
Twelve-year-old Bryan Murphy, from South Lake Tahoe, managed to reel in a 5-1/2 pounder for a respectable fourth place.
“We were late getting in because it was a big fish and we couldn’t get it in the boat,” he said. “It took us at least 10 minutes.”
Murphy said part of the reason for the long reel time for Mackinaws is due because they like to swim deep in the lake – usually more than 100 feet. He said he usually trails a minnow, which are his favorite pick for bait, or a flat-fish lure.
Using that same set up, Murphy said he’s hooked 18-pounders out in the lake in his fishing experiences.
Nielsen, who works for Tahoe Topliners as a charter guide, said the fishing has been unusually favorable this year.
“I’ve caught 21 fish in the 10-to-21-pound range this year when, normally, it’s about six fish of that size per year,” he said. “I think it’s just the high water for that we’ve had these last three years and the fish are just happy and getting what they need.”
Others took the winner’s slot by hooking other species of fish.
“We had the Mackinaw and non-Mackinaw categories because we thought people might catch some Kokanee salmon,” said John Drum, Camp Richardson Resort recreation manager. “We just wanted to leave it as open as we could just to get people out here to fish.”
Winning the non-Mackinaw title was Stateline resident Sean Weatherston, who caught a 5-pound rainbow trout.
First place: Mike Nielsen, 18.75-pound Mackinaw trout
Second place: Mark Jarves, 7.4-pound Mackinaw trout
Third place: Erik Nelson, 7-pound Mackinaw trout
First place: Sean Weatherston, 5-pound Rainbow trout
Second place: Bobby Reynolds 2.3-pound Rainbow trout
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