RIO VISTA — While the focus was fish, there was far more to do off the water than on, Saturday at the 66th annual Rio Vista Bass Derby Festival.
All of downtown Rio Vista was jammed with festivalgoers as they checked out the car show with dozens of hot rods and classic rides on display.
Live music echoed through the streets from two stages and the scent of all things grilled and fried filled the air.
But in the end, it was still about the fish as the three-day competition continued.
As of Saturday afternoon, the closest anyone had gotten to the target size was a 32¼-inch striped bass.
The designated size for the competition is 32½ inches.
“It’s not a big fish derby,” said Mike Pine of the Isleton chapter of the California Striped Bass Association and one of the weighmasters. “That’s to discourage catching and killing large females, we go to a target size.”
Fellow weighmaster Ken Richardson said the size is determined at the beginning of the competition.
“We spin the wheel and it comes up at 32 and a half,” Richardson said. “That makes it completely fair. . . . That way I can’t go out and catch a big fish and put it in a pen or something. The biggest thing is not killing the big females. The striper population is way down from back when I was a kid in the 1960s and ’70s.”
Of the thousands of people who crowded the downtown streets, few were anglers.
Most checked out the food or the street vendors and many took advantage of the California Carnival, which was set up just off the waterfront.
Aspiring anglers also had plenty to do with a children’s trout pond set up near the end of Main Street.
As officials drained the pond, children were able to hand grab the remaining trout.
Brandon Gallegos, of Stockton, assisted his son Joel Gallegos, 7, and nephew Robert Chew, 5, as they snagged a couple of trout to take home.
“I work at H&R Bait & Tackle (in Stockton) and I do a lot of fishing. I’ve fished in tournaments all my life,” the senior Gallegos said. “I got a chance to bring them out for the first time.”
He said the boys were having fun.
“Especially (Joel), he always wants to play video games, it’s hard to get him out, but I get him to go, we’ll go catch bluegills and stuff,” he said.
It wasn’t just the fishing that drew them to the festival.
“They like the cars and everything,” Gallegos said.
Competition and festivities wrap up Sunday afternoon with the final results of the derby announced at 3 p.m.
Winners must be present to claim their prizes.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.