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Trout derby anticipates 1,000 eager anglers

The most popular fishing accessory during this weekend's Rainbow $5,000 trout derby at Diamond Lake might not be PowerBait, night crawlers or Triple Teaser lures.

A $2.49 head net to keep the many flies, midges and other flying insects out of your ears and nose may fetch a pretty penny from net-less anglers competing in Saturday's derby at this insect-rich lake in eastern Douglas County.

"It makes it a lot more comfortable for fishing up there without those bugs crawling all over you," says Mike McMullen from Medford's Black Bird Shopping Center, which is organizing the 12th annual derby.

All those bugs are a good thing, because they fuel a trout fishery where rainbows are growing up to two inches a month, and the angler winning the top prize of $1,000 likely will bring in a rainbow in the 6-pound range, predicts Steve Koch, general manager of the Diamond Lake Resort, which is hosting the tourney.

"I think the biggest fish will come out of the weed beds at the south end of the lake on a worm, PowerBait or a fly," Koch says.

More than 1,000 anglers are expected to be on hand, all trying to be that skillfully lucky person who pulls in the fattest weed-bed denizen of the day.

The Rainbow $5,000 is the trout derby where everyday anglers play like the pros — earning cash prizes for the largest trout caught at the lake that day by pre-registered contestants.

The largest fish by weight will win its angler $1,000, with second place netting $750 and third place fetching $500. Prizes descend in value until $100 for 10th place.

The 11th- to 20th-place finishers each will win $75, while the 21st- to 30th-place finishers will earn $50.

Black Bird also offers merchandise giveaways throughout the day.

The derby entrance fee remains at $15, and the weigh-in will end at 3 p.m. As with past derbies, each registered contestant can weigh in only one fish.

For more details and registration information for the derby, telephone Black Bird at 779-5431 or visit the store's Web site at www.blackbirdshoppingcenter.com.

Anglers can register at Black Bird, at Diamond Lake Resort or at Waldron's Outdoor Sports in Grants Pass.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.