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Derby winner has special connection to annual event

by Canda HarbaughWestern News
| May 19, 2009 12:00 AM

George Earle doesn’t participate in many fishing competitions, but the annual Trout and Salmon Derby at Lake Koocanusa Resort and Marina is dear to his heart.

“It was kind of special for me and my dad,” Earle said.

Earle, who grew up in Libby, participated in the derby with his father, longtime Libby resident George Earle Sr., since it began in 2003. When his father died two months ago, there was no doubt that Earle would continue the tradition.

He traveled from Bonners Ferry, Idaho to spend the weekend with friends Stan Wolf and Ryan Comer, competing against over 500 anglers to catch the heaviest trout and the most salmon in weight.

Earle, who had never placed in the competition before, caught the weekend’s largest rainbow trout, an 8-pound, 10-ounce beauty that won him a $3,000-plus prize.

An avid fisherman, Earle said the rainbow trout put up a pretty typical fight.

“It took about 10 minutes to get it landed,” he said. “It took a lot of help from my partners. Without them it wouldn’t have happened.”

The number of derby contestants jumped more than 20 percent from last year, surprising organizers, married couple Randy and Randie Burch.

“With the economy,” Randy said, “We didn’t expect it.” 

Each participant put in $20 for the weekend, which went toward cash prizes, adding up to nearly $11,000.

The number of participants has increased every year, beginning with 110 at the first derby six years ago and coming out this year with 542. It grows, said Randie, because the same people keep coming back, along with new participants.

“These are people who have participated all seven years,” Randie said. “I think part of it is cabin fever.”

This year’s youngest participant was 3-year-old Allen Laude of Idaho, and the participant who traveled the furthest was Leroy Mulch from San Padre Island in Texas.

Trout and Salmon Derby

Friday and Saturday at Lake Koocanusa

Largest Rainbow Trout

1st: George Earle, 8 lb., 10 oz.

2nd: Art Chubb 8 lb., 3 oz.

3rd: Gene Ramsay 7 lb., 8 oz.

4th (tie): Ray Miller 6 lb, 13 oz.

4th (tie): Norman Storro 6 lb., 13 oz.

5th: Sam Keaster 6 lb, 12 oz.

Most Kokanee Salmon Caught

(in weight, up to 20 fish)

1st: Al Lauguard 5 lb., 11 oz.

2nd: Charlie Carvey 5 lb., 8 oz.

3rd: Gene Gregg 5 lb., 5 oz