CHAMBERSBSURG >> It's that time of year again, when hundreds of eager anglers line the banks of area waterways and immerse themselves once more into the sport of luck and skill that is trout fishing.
For the 18th year, Chambersburg Noontime Lions Club members are organizing their annual trout derby, to take place May 2 and 3, in one of the area's most famous trout streams. Anglers can get their gear wet starting at 6 a.m. May 2.
Tim Fisler, who is chairman of the event for the Lions, said the derby started out small but soon grew.
"We always have around a thousand register for the derby," he said. "They can start fishing at 6 a.m. on Saturday and fish right through the night until 3 p.m. Sunday. We put in 600 tagged fish, though we put more fish than that in the creek."
Untagged fish bring no prizes, other than the pleasure of catching a trout, he added.
A lot of effort goes into the derby, Fisler said.
"There are several dozen volunteers behind the scenes that help us keep it going," he said.
The contest is simple. Organizers stock the Conococheague Creek with 600 trout that bear special tags. The fisherman who snags one of those fish and gets it to the check-in location near CVS Pharmacy in town is eligible for cash prizes. Participants 16 or older are also required to have a valid state fishing license and Trout Stamp.
Actually, there are several ways of going home with more money than you came with. The derby features more than $25,000 in regular prize money in addition to the 600 money fish, with payouts ranging from $25 to $2,000. There will also be a $30,000 pre-owned vehicle contest sponsored by Forrester Lincoln, a big trout contest with estimated payout of nearly $2,000, and a 50/50 contest and raffle to take place at noon May 3, with over $3,500 in prizes.
Organizers stated that a 50/50 contest will be held for the three people who catch the biggest tagged trout. Payouts will be 60 percent to the largest trout, 30 percent to the next largest and 10 percent to the third largest trout.
There is an additional $5 entry fee for the big trout contest.
The three biggest tagged trout will be determined by total length and girth. In the event of a tie, the tiebreaker will be the weight of the fish.
Registration is easy: Check the troutderby.com website for a forms or, if you are prone to putting things off until the last possible minute, last-minute registration can be done at the Check-In Station beside CVS Pharmacy, 125 W. Washington St., between 4 and 7 p.m. Friday, May 1 or between 4 and 6 a.m. May 2.
Participants will receive an 18th Annual Trout Derby pin, a Trout Derby oval sticker and a free "Specialty Coffee and MTO" coupon from Sheetz. Proceeds from the event will be used to help local residents in need. In the derby's history, the Lions have given away about $275,000.
In addition to the Noontime Lions, Derby sponsors include M&T Bank, Franklin County, Strickler Agency, Office Suppliers, Forrester Lincoln-Mercury, Dilly's and Lock Haven Lures & Spinners.