Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Catfish Derby winner reels in 28-pounder

Jim Paschke of Woodland with his winning catch, a 28.32-pound catfish. Courtesy photo.



CLEARLAKE OAKS – What's the biggest fish you've ever caught?

Chances are, not too many of us have reeled in a 28-pound catfish. But that's just what James Paschke of Woodland did on Friday evening, a feat which helped him win the 26th annual Clearlake Oaks Catfish Derby this weekend.

The Clearlake Oaks derby is billed as the largest catfish derby west of the Mississippi. It's hosted by the Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association, said Gail Jonas, the event's chair.

This weekend's derby also had the biggest field in its history, said Dennis Locke, another of the dedicated team of volunteers who organize the derby.

In all, the derby welcomed 487 adult fishermen – and women – along with 96 children, said Jonas.

The event offered a Kids Derby for ages 16 and under. Locke said they set out to attract more kids entries, and as a result got almost twice the normal number of young competitors.

Paschke's 28.23-pound winner helped him land a grand prize of a new boat, trailer and motor.

“That's a nice fish,” said Jonas. “We've had bigger, but that's fairly good-sized.”

Many of the fish brought in for the tournament were caught near M&M Campground on the Peninsula, near Rattlesnake Island and Indian Island, near the mouth of Cache Creek, Jonas said.

Other top finishers in the adult derby were: second place, William Bhader III of San Jose, 26.15-pound fish; third place, James Champlin, San Jose, 24.63 pounds; fourth place, Josh Gouker, Marysville, 24.57; fifth place, Sheila Bird, Oroville, 24.41 pounds; sixth place, Pamela Woods, Clearlake, 24.18 pounds; seventh place, Justin Lane, Hood River, Ore., 24.05 pounds; eighth place, Donnell Thompson, Pittsburg, 23.82 pounds; ninth place, Michael Reed, Greenville, 23.19 pounds; 10th place, Joshua Lane, Hood River, 23.18 pounds; 11th place, Tommy Wheeler, Sutter, 22.85 pounds; 12th place, Steve Johnson, Oceanside, 22.51 pounds; 13th place, Gary Moore, Clearlake, 21.56 pounds; 14th place, Kerry Hamilton, Boron, 21.48 pounds; 15th place, Lee Harris, Oakland, 21.39 pounds; 16th place, Matthew Ross, Clearlake, 21.10 pounds; 17th place, John Willis Jr., Lakeport, 21.00 pounds; 18th place, Gene Shogren, Yuba City, 20.31 pounds; 19th place, Colin Johnson, Santa Rosa, 19.33 pounds; 20th place, Brad Zazzetti, Forestville, 19.26 pounds; 21st place, Ricky Williamson, Clearlake, 18.43 pounds.

Locke said everyone had a great time in spite of the high winds, which affected fishing conditions. People fished both from the shorelines and from boats, Jonas added.

She said about 70 percent of the tournament participants came from outside the county, with visitors from as far away as Maryland, Oregon, Nebraska and Montana.

The Catfish Derby is the association's major fundraiser of the year, said Jonas, helping the group fund the community's Fourth of July fireworks, assist the senior center and local schools, and contribute to the community's new park at The Plaza.

“We try to spend it where it's going to help people the most in our community,” she said.

Jonas, who estimated she has worked on about six or seven of the tournaments, said it's inspiring to see everyone pull together to make the event happen.

“Everybody just pitches in and it makes you feel really good,” she said.

The process of organizing the derbies take about nine months, Jonas said. “We start in September and we work all year.”

Which means, of course, that they have a few months of rest before the team of volunteers – which includes about 40 community members, according to Jonas – gets started on next year's event. The effort will include mailers to fisherman from recent derbies and other outreach.

More photos will be posted Monday at

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Paschke won a new boat, motor and trailer. Courtesy photo.




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