Each autumn the shoulder season arrives as a mixed blessing; on the one hand, locals get the town and county back to themselves, but on the other, lack of tourist revenue creates a gauntlet local businesses must run annually from Labor Day to Thanksgiving.
This year Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi and the Eastern Sierra Fishing Coalition have come together to find a solution to that problem: a “Second Summer Fishing Derby” running from Sept. 6 to Nov. 15. The Derby is sponsored by Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mono County Tourism in conjunction with Western Outdoor News, which ran a major supplement in its paper, and Ronnie Kovach’s Fishing Adventures Radio show on KLAA 830 in Los Angeles and his television show on Fox Sports West. Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mono County Tourism have pooled a total of $10,000 to make the event happen in the hopes that it will drive business during a typically slow period of the year.
Participating lakes in the Derby include Convict Lake Resort, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Walker Country Store (West Walker River), Bridgeport Reservoir, Sliver Lakes Resort, June Lake Marina, Grant Lake Marina, and Lake Mary Marina. On Sept. 6, three specifically tagged 2lbs + trout, paid for by PRADCO Fishing, were planted in each of the lakes, as well as an additional 20 tagged trout of various sizes. If caught, these fish qualify the fisherman for an instant win prize and a raffle ticket for up to a $500 shopping spree at Lurenet.com.
Instant win prizes include an Okuma rod and reel combo, BOOYAH “Flipsta” casting games, a 1 year subscription to Western Outdoor Magazine, $250 Gift Cards to Sport Chalet, Seaguar Flourocarbon, Panther Martin Lures, Wiley X Sunglasses, Global Fish Mounts, Sea Eagle Inflatable Boats, Thomas Bouyant, Lowrance Electronics, FoodSaver, Yakima Rooster Tails, lures, tackle boxes, and gift certificates from local retailers.
The grand prize by raffle is a fully rigged 14’ Gregor boat with a 15hp Mercury Motor and an EZ Load Trailer.
Andrew Jones, co-owner and operator of Silver Lake Resort, said so far the investment in a “Second Summer” is paying off. “We’ve had more responses to this fishing contest than any other we’ve participated in,” he said. “There hasn’t been a day go by that someone hasn’t called to ask about the contest.” He also reported reservations made by guests specifically to come up and participate in the contest. “I would participate in this contest again in the future,” he said.
Lake Mary Marina owner Don Barrett was more cautious in his assessment of the benefits of the Derby. “To be honest, it’s hard to tell if it’s helped business,” he said. “It may have improved slightly.” Business is up at the Marina by at least 5% this Sept., after a summer with less business than last year, “so it could have to do with the contest,” he said. But Barrett also explained that in his opinion “usually the first year of this type of derby, people are just catching on. It takes about three to five years to see results.” Either way, the Derby is “definitely a step in the right direction” for Mammoth, which Barrett thought hasn’t done as good a job as Convict and Crowley at establishing derbies thus far.
Once the Derby has wrapped, Urdi said he plans to measure the overall success by the number of tagged fish caught and the response from people to the marinas and tackle shops.