Family Fun at “Hooked On Fishing” Derby in Maple Valley – April 26-27, 2024 on Lake Wilderness

Written by: Payton Ebe – Tahoma High School Journalism Student – Tahoma News
Interview by: Presley Peters – Tahoma High School Journalism Student – Tahoma News
Photos by: Pooja Anoop Photography

Visit Derby Event Page

With spring fast approaching it is almost time for the annual “Hooked On Fishing” opening day derby, sponsored by Maple Valley Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce and the City of Maple Valley, in preparation for trout season, taking place April 26th to 27th.

This is an event at Lake Wilderness Park that many Maple Valley fishers look forward to every year to start off their own personal fishing seasons.

Starting at 3pm on Friday afternoon, families can expect to check in and set up camp in preparation for the night ahead. Pop a tent; no RVs will be allowed. Dinner will also be provided by the Maple Valley Rotary including hamburgers and hot dogs, but anyone is free to bring their own meals if that is what you prefer, dinner sells for $5 a camper.

While it is free to attend the event, if you want to participate in the actual fishing derby you must pay for a ticket to win any of the offered prizes.

Some of the available prizes include a tagged fish that can be found in the lake that will earn the winner $300 in prize money as long as they have paid for one of the “tagged fish” tickets, costing $5, before midnight.

Along with this prize, the top 50 largest fish will receive any of the 50 prizes offered at the end of the derby as long as you have weighed and measured your fish at the official weigh station by noon on Saturday, and bought your $2 ticket between midnight and 11:30am.

Not only will the first 50 fish win prizes, but the 51st to the 100th fish will also receive prizes, with the tickets costing $2 as well after the first 50 have received theirs. Les Schwab will also be there sponsoring the “Get it Here” tent for prizes for the young anglers, no one goes home empty handed.

The $2 and $5 tickets can be bought ahead of time at Johnson’s Home and Garden as well as Wilderness Auto Service.

Some of the prizes included are “camping tents, chairs, coolers, hammocks, a pizza oven, sleeping bags, and fishing poles,” according to Alyssa Saas, Executive Director of Maple Valley Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce.

The derby officially starts at midnight on Saturday and ends at 11:30am which is when you should be in line to weigh your final fish, and the aforementioned prizes will be awarded at noon.

The derby has seen as many as 1000 participants in years past, but since Covid happened the numbers have been dwindling to about 100 to 200 and Saas says that they “are hoping to get those numbers back up!”

Something that may interest people to join in the fishing fun is that the largest fish recorded last year was 21 pounds and there may be an even bigger one this year if you can find it! Lake Wilderness is stocked with many fish on Thursday in preparation for the following events.

During Friday night before the fishing begins and the families prepare for the night ahead, the Tahoma High School Interact Club will be there to keep children entertained with different activities including campfires, games, stories, and more, and on Saturday there will be crafts and a small fish pond by the dock for the kids to practice their own fishing skills.

On Saturday from 5am to noon, there will be a breakfast provided by the Maple Valley Rotary just like the dinner the night before, also during this time there will be an event for the younger kids, ages 9 and younger, provided by Re/Max Select Real Estate’s Tina McDonough.

Along with the many people contributing to the fun and games for families, you can also count on the safety of all involved thanks to the King County Police Explorers. The explorers will be there to ensure the safety of everyone at the derby and the security of the lake and surrounding park area.

The explorers are a group of 14-21 year olds who have an interest in law enforcement. They spend a lot of time helping out the police station with events such as this one and other situations where they may be needed. We recognize and thank them for agreeing to protect the citizens of Maple Valley during this event.

With so many fun activities for families to enjoy, and the many prizes you can win just for doing something you enjoy, why not enjoy a weekend at the lake to start off the official Maple Valley trout fishing season.