Source: Valley Roadrunner

Lake Wohlford’s first Catfish Derby takes place Saturday - Charity tournament will benefit Purple Heart Hero Support


July 03, 2013

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.”

—Doug Larson

This weekend, anglers from Valley Center, Escondido and all across the county will have a great chance to do something important while spending a day out on the lake.

For the first time, Lake Wohlford is hosting a Catfish Derby tournament, which will take place on Saturday from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Three thousand pounds of catfish will be stocked for the event, including some of the larger blue catfish.

But the purpose of the tournament goes much deeper than the murky bottom where the catfish love to hide out. Park Ranger Jim Dayberry explains that the tournament’s partnership with the Purple Heart Hero Support charity is a win-win situation for everyone.

“As far as I know, there’s never been a derby like this at Lake Wohlford,” he says. “We’d done some other tournaments at Lake Dixon and we’d heard about events like this in places like Poway, so we thought we’d give it a try up here.

“Then we started asking, ‘What can we provide besides just a fun event?’ ” he adds. “We hoped we could do something community-minded, so I got in touch with the American Legion Auxiliary in Escondido, and they got us connected with Purple Heart Hero Support, which is a great charity. It’s a great opportunity for a fun, family event that’s right here in our community, but it also helps a great cause.”

Dayberry also adds that 100 percent of the proceeds raised at the Catfish Derby will go directly to the Purple Heart Hero Support.

“They get a hundred-percent return,” he says. “There’s zero administrative cost and it’s all being done by volunteers, so it’s the best kind of charity event you can have.”

Valley Center resident Joyce Orrell, known as an “official hugger” for returning soldiers and a very active participant in the Wounded Warrior Project, is also part of the Purple Heart Hero Support group. She says that she is excited to see a local event connected to a charity that helps wounded soldiers, a group she talks about with the pride of a mother as she calls them “my boys.”

“I’m really thrilled to see that there are so many supporting us from Valley Center,” she says. “We’re hoping it’s going to be huge. I remember taking Cub Scouts up to the lake years ago, so I hope it’s an opportunity for no only the local community, but for everyone to have a chance to come up to Valley Center and see what country life is like!”

Dayberry also thinks the event is going to draw a good crowd.

“We’re just trying to hold onto our hats,” he says with a chuckle. “I know there will be some sailors and Marines coming up, but we don’t know how big it’s going to be. We just wanted to make it a good, family event for the local community, and we hope that the locals take to it and really make it their own.”

Team Marine Parents, the group behind Purple Heart Hero Support, will host a charity breakfast at the lake from 6–10 a.m. that will also include a raffle. There will also be a luncheon and a flag-raising ceremony as part of the event.

In addition, there will be a jumpy house for the kids and several food trucks have been invited to attend. Visitors will also be able to see the unveiling of the lake’s brand new fishing pier in Boat Dock Cove.

The Catfish Derby features a handful of prizes—a $500 grand prize for the overall largest catfish, then prizes for first, second and third place in three separate divisions: active military, adult and youth (15 and under). All prizes are awarded in Bass Pro Shops gift cards.

No state fishing license is required that day as it is a free fishing day in California, but lake fishing permits are required at the regular prices, which are $7 for adult permits and $5 for youth and senior permits. There is also a special for active military personnel, which is a $20 motorboat rental for the daylight hours.

There derby also has specific rules. All fishermen must have a lake use fishing permit. All fish that are weighed for the contest will be marked by rangers. Each fisherman must keep his own separate stringer. Fish must be weighed at the ranger station on July 6 between 6 a.m. and midnight. Prizes must be claimed within one week. Only one prize will be awarded to any one person. Ties will be broken by taking the first fish weighed in. Any fisherman violating park rules or state fish and wildlife laws will be disqualified.

The main parking lot Senior Shoreline and Willow Cove will remain open until midnight, but the Oakvale lot will close at 9 p.m., also the entire southern shoreline. All boats will have to return to the dock by 9 p.m.

For more information about the event, you can visit the Web site at or you can call the Lake Wohlford Ranger Station at 760-839-4346. Anyone requiring assistance to maximize participation can call the city of Escondido’s ADA coordinator at 760-839-4641.

And for more information about Marine Parents and Purple Heart Hero Support, visit the Web site at