On a crisp Saturday, May 14, a day bracketed by Friday and Sunday rains, 72 anglers boarded 24 boats and scattered to all corners of the Magic Reservoir for the 11th annual Magic Reservoir Derby.
Held the second Saturday of May each year, the derby pits fisher against fisher in a trout catching challenge. The majority of the catch is rainbow trout, though this year saw a few browns get hooked as well.
This year's derby was organized by Magic resident and East Side Magic Resort owner Nate Norris. Annual proceeds go to charity and this year's derby raised $750 for the family of Boe Balis, whose life was taken in an April 1 avalanche 20 miles northwest of Ketchum.
Prizes were given for both the biggest fish and for the total weight of trout caught. With a 2.5 pound rainbow, Jim Heather won the Big Fish award despite his less than large catch.
According to Norris, the weekend's fish were smaller than in years' past—when 6 to 9 pound trout had taken the prize—due to low water levels. Fortunately, recent rains have seen water levels surge by 3 feet.
The crew of The Blackjack, captained by Rick Norris, Nate's father, hauled in the most trout with 12.2 pounds. The Blackjack tied for first place with Colin Pierson's La Guama.
There was a tie for third and fourth places as well with Delfin Ordaz' Blue Fin hooking the same 9.5 pounds as Steve Begley's Dos Boat.
Absent from the winner's podium was 3 time consecutive winner Ed Uhrig.
When the boats departed at the 8:00 am shotgun start, many beelined to particular areas of the lake. Asked if there was strategy to competitive angling, winner Norris, who fishes as often as 5 times per week, replied positively: "We had been fishing all week before, so we knew where they [the fish] were hanging out."
The day ended, naturally, with all successful fishermen and women feasting on their spoils. With over 12 pounds from his boat alone, Norris saved some by freezing. Still other trout was deliciously smoked by Magic resident and local meat-smoking guru Guy Hansen. As for that night's trout feast, "we deep fried it," said Norris.