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Tradition. Be it an annual summer trip to the mountains or opening day to fishing season in the High Sierra, it’s a way to add some spice into our daily routines. For those who enjoy the activity of fishing and want to kick up their traditions a notch, here’s not just the best fishing derby in the High Sierra but rather a slew of amazing ones you should consider checking out.

Blake Jones Trout Derby


Image appears courtesy: Bishop Visitor Center

While over a month before “Fishmas”, this derby’s been around for more than half a century. In the 2019 Blake Jones Trout Derby, nearly 700 anglers of all ages descended upon the waters of the Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River vying for their share of more than ten grand in prizes. Named after the late Blake Jones, he invented the modern cheese bait like Powerbait, back in the late 1950s. With his charismatic personality, Blake Jones became a spokesman for Bishop and the Eastern High Sierra, helping to turn Bishop into a year-round California fishing vacation destination.

Bass Lake Fishing Derby

1st weekend in  May

Bass Lake Fishing Derby
Photo by: Steve Montalto – Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite|Madera Country

While the lake might be named after its abundance of bass, this tournament is about the other almighty fish in its waters… the trout. Over the years the prizes have run the full gambit from $20 to upwards of $25,000. For the 2019 Bass Lake Fishing Derby, there’s over $55,000 at stake! Located not far from the town of Oakhurst and the southern gate of Yosemite National Park, it offers a great way to kick off the summer season with some fishing AND adventures in the park.

Kids Fishing Festival


Image appears courtesy: Visit Mammoth Lake Tourism

If you love fishing, you probably hope your kids and grandkids will join you in all the fun of this rewarding activity. Let’s be honest though… it can be challenging. Well, the Kids Fishing Festival held annually in July is the perfect opportunity to hook ‘em on the sport. In fact, it’s the LARGEST kid-centric fishing festival in California with over a thousand families descending upon the ponds adjacent to the Snowcreek Resort. Be sure to check out Mammoth’s post on how to plan your trip to the kids fishing festival. Don’t have kids but still looking for a fishing event? No problem! Mammoth Lakes has a page listing ALL the fishing events happening in and around the area.

Ambush At The Lake

September Through November


Convict Lake Best Lakes In the high sierra
Image appears courtesy: Mono County Economic Development, Tourism & Film Commission

Convict Lake’s fishing is arguably some of the best in the West and one of the most popular fishing “holes” in the Eastern Sierra. And what better way to finish off the fishing season strong than with a month long tournament. Compared to the other events listed, this tournament isn’t just a one-day affair but rather a series. It all starts on Labor Day and runs until the end of the fishing season. A $15 entry fee includes a commemorative pin and a chance to win. In total, competitors can aim for over $6,000 in Convict Lake Resort prizes. For those that can’t wait until the fall, here’s a full list of ALL the fishing events going down this year in Mono County.

The lakes, reservoirs, streams and creeks in the California High Sierra offer some of the best trout fishing out there. With the the start of fishing season under way, mark your calendars and make this fishing season one for the history books by entering a fishing derby in the High Sierra.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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