By Kimberly Adams<br />Staff writer
RATON – Last weekend’s wild late Spring weather did not hamper the 550-plus adults, families and children who turned out for the annual Sugarite Canyon State Park Fishing Derby June 6-8 sponsored by the Raton Kiwanis Club, Friends of Sugarite, and Shirley Prince in memory of G.W. and Ruth Prince.
June 7 was National Free Fishing Day in New Mexico which meant anglers could fish for free on public waters throughout the state, including Lake Maloya at Sugarite, site of the Youth Fishing Derby for kids age 3-17.
“It was great fun for the kids, and they got some prizes out of it,” said Game & Fish Springer District Officer Justin Johnson.
Prizes were awarded for the heaviest live rainbow trout in two age classes: anglers aged 3-11, and anglers age 12-17. For the adults, the fishing derby grand prize was a 16-foot Lowe 1648MT Jon Boat worth $3,000 that went to Norman Weese of Raton.
Archie Salazar of Raton won $1,000 cash prize. Other cash prizes went to Joe Bacca of Raton ($600), David Wright of Maxwell ($400), and Michael Duran of Las Animas, Colo ($100).
“Numerous derby participants also won door prizes ranging from a large backyard grill, to fishing equipment, to a complimentary hotel stay,” Sugarite Ranger Pat Walsh said.
Friends of Sugarite sponsored a raffle with first prize – a 6-foot chainsaw bear – went to Kathleen Harris of Raton. Robin Blair of Raton won 2nd with a cow elk tag from Vermejo Park Ranch. Ivan Caylor of Raton won a $100 Cabela’s gift card while two $50 Cabela’s gift cards went to Raton residents Bill Kay, and Cassie Phillips. Doriann Sandoval of Raton won a deer antler hat rack.
Sugarite Canyon State Park Superintendent Bob McIver noted that everyone at last weekend’s fishing derby had a good time in spite of the cooler-than-normal outside temps.
Eddie Romero of Raton, with sons Azden (age 6), and Dante (age 12), fished along the southern bank of Lake Maloya last Saturday. Dante was eager to show off the 8-inch Rainbow Trout he caught while Azden fished with a homemade stick-and-string fishing pole. “He’d rather fish with a stick than with a pole,” Romero said of Azden.
Five-year-old Iban Trujillo, who already considers himself a master fisherman, kept the Rainbow Trout he caught in a blue bucket. Iban fished with his older cousin, Alee Bird of Raton. Meanwhile, George Mendez of Raton said he likes to bring his sons Aaron Mendez, Adrian Mendez and Zayden Campbell, fishing every weekend. Aaron caught Rainbow Trout.
For the Youth Fishing Derby, First Prize winner in the age 3-11 range went to Cayden Walton with a fish weighing in at 943 grams. Orlando Bueno came in Second Place with a fish weighing in at 507 grams. Third Place went to jeremiah Sisneros with a fish weighing 426 grams.
In the kid’s 12-17 age group, winners include Cameron Atencio with a Rainbow Trout weighing 535 grams. Ismael Tofoya was the Second Place winner with a catch of 464 grams. Vernon Edwards was awarded Third with a 426-gram fish.
Numerous local businesses contributed to this annual event. “The Kiwanis Club of Raton had a raffle where they awarded about 90 additional prizes to those youth who stayed for the duration of the Derby in spite of rain,” Raton Kiwanis Club President Bob Mantz said.
Out of all the fish living in Lake Maloya, four are equipped with special blue tags. Anyone fishing at the lake after last weekend’s fishing derby, but before Aug. 31, will get $50 if they catch one of these few tagged fish.
“The Kiwanis Club of Raton, the Sugarite Park, and the Friends of Sugarite would like to thank everyone for their support and their participation in the Derby,” Mantz said.
The park is located northeast of Raton on State Road 526 just off of NM Hwy. 72. It can be reached by phone at (575) 445-5607.