Merced County Times Newspaper
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Lake McSwain Spring Trout Derby set for April 1-2

The Lake McSwain Spring Trout Derby will be held this year on April 1 and 2.

Anglers can begin fishing at 6 a.m. the first day. The derby ends at noon the following day.

The Spring Derby will continue to rely on the smart phone app FishDonkey.

“The spectacular scenery this time of year always offers an outstanding backdrop for fishing,” said Brooke Gutierrez, Director of MID Parks and Recreation. “It’s really a great time for family and friends.”

Campsites are available at nearby Lake McClure. All campsites at Lake McSwain have been reserved for the weekend.

A new feature on the website allows visitors to virtually travel through the campgrounds and then select the site they want. For reservations, click here or visit and clicking “Book Now.”

All registration for the Trout Derby and payments must be made through the FishDonkey app.

Participants are strongly encouraged to access the app early and become familiar with it before the Derby. All photos, videos and judging will be managed through the app. On the day of the derby, participants will need to have both their smart phone – with the app available – as well as a non- expandable bump board for measuring and photographing their catch.

Anglers can practice using the FishDonkey app ahead of the tournament by joining a tournament in the app called “Practice Entering a Fish.”

The app will work without an internet connection at the lake during the derby.

Participants will need to join in advance, and should open the app before heading out. They will need to tap on the name of the tournament (Spring 2023 Lake McSwain Trout Derby), followed by “Leaderboard/Enter a Fish.” This will have the tournament fully loaded on a phone, even in poor internet areas.

Fish should be entered in accordance with the app’s instructions while at the lake. Tapping on the fish icon will open the Digital Livewell and show any fish awaiting an internet connection to be moved to the

leaderboard. After returning to an area with internet or WiFI, participants can then open their Digital Livewell and leave it open until the fish are moved to the leaderboard.

To watch a tutorial video for FishDonkey, please click here. This year’s categories will include the following:

  • Longest trout for $2,000
  • Stringer with three longest fish combined: $2,000
  • Wild card – one adult winner is randomly selected for $500 prize
  • Kids Wild Card – a winner under 16 will be randomly selected to receive a fishing pole and tackle 
box. (Sponsored by Splash N Dash and the Reel Deal Market and Café at Lake McSwain).

The Reel Deal Market & Café at Lake McSwain will be open 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. for the derby. Breakfast burritos and lunch will be offered, as will gear, tackle and bait – and the bump board needed to measure anglers’ entries. 
“The spring derby remains a popular event. We want to let anglers know about it as early as possible so they can make their plans,” said Gutierrez. “As always, it’s going to be a great weekend.”

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