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Twelve thousand pounds of trout have already been planted in Cachuma Lake with another 2,000 pounds scheduled to arrive the week of the 23rd Annual Fish Derby at the Neal Taylor Nature Center in April.

The derby will be April 21-22, rain or shine, with more than $5,000 in cash prizes and thousands more in merchandise.

Registration is $35, $40 if it's postmarked after April 7, and $10 for youth ages 4-15 years old.

The derby is the major fundraiser for the nature center, which is a non-profit organization, and this year’s derby will again include prize categories for multiple types of fish such as crappie, bass, catfish, trout, and carp. The prize pool dollar amount has been increased, which means everyone has a chance to win cash prizes, fishing gear, and more.

Anglers of all ages are encouraged to enter the derby. Registration forms are available at Cachuma Lake Park entry gate, store, marina, Nature Center and some local businesses. 

Anglers 16 years and older must have a fishing license, which may be purchased at the marina. Free arts and crafts activities will be offered to children Saturday afternoon of derby weekend at the Nature Center and the Center will also host a special Books and Treasure Sale on both Saturday and Sunday at the Nature Center.

The derby fishing begins at 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 21 and ends at noon on April 22. Contestants must fish in Cachuma Lake during the tournament hours and may fish from shore at any time during the derby including Saturday night. A flare will be fired at the harbor to start the derby on Saturday and to end the Derby on Sunday.

Due to the threat of quagga mussels, Cachuma Lake has a 30-day quarantine and inspection of all boats except those with a Cachuma Lake tag and kayaks/canoes. With the rise in lake level – the lower launch ramp at Cachuma is now open. Please check for updates to the inspection protocol at

Other activities include:

Friday, April 20 and throughout the derby, winning tickets will be drawn at the Sunday Awards Program which begins at 1 p.m. at the Fireside Theater. You need not be present to win the raffle.

During the Books and Treasures Sale at the center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, bring a bag and fill it up with books for just $5.

Going “Batty” at the Nature Center will be held Friday, April 20 at 7:45 p.m. Meet behind the Nature Center for a free talk and living exhibit of our local bats, and watch them come out to feed. The free presentation will be made by a Nature Center docent.

The Awards Program will be held at the Fireside Theater on Sunday, April 22 at 1 p.m.

Two-hour wildlife cruises on the lake, led by the park naturalist, are $15 for adults; $10 for children 5 to 12 years. Reservations are recommended; call (805) 686-5050 or go to the main gate in person.

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