By Gene Kira, May 19, 2003, as published in Western Outdoor News:
Every year, the local Kiwanis Club of Escondido, CA runs a charity trout fishing derby on a little reservoir called Dixon Lake, and they raise over $10,000 to benefit children in need.
Since this is a "Baja Column," you'd naturally expect the next line of this story to talk about how all that money goes to help children in El Rosario, or Loreto, or Cabo San Lucas, or any of dozens of places in Mexico's states of Baja California or Baja California Sur where Americans have donated stuff to needy Mexican families since time immemorial.
Nope. It ain't so. According to derby organizer Fred Wollman, the bulk of the money is spent right in and near Escondido itself, to help children through such local programs as the Boys and Girls Club, Children's Hospital, and the YMCA, to name a few.
This past May 3-4, the Kiwanian's fifth annual derby attracted an incredible 750 anglers (Bisbee's, watch out!) to Dixon Lake to fish for plain old planted trout, of all things, and the crazy Kiwanians actually raised over $12,000 for their very worthy cause.
So how do they get so many sunburned Escondido citizens to fish for trout on tiny Dixon Lake, and more importantly, cough up $12 thousand bucks?
In a watershed, reverse charity deal, over $6,000 worth of prizes were offered at the derby, headed up by free trips donated by sport fishing operations from our very own Baja California.
This idea of Baja donating to help American kids is so weird, it takes a little time to get used to, but there it is, and thank you, amigos!
The Kiwanis-Baja connection was actually started last year when Loreto's Wendy Wilchynski and Ron Bellerive of the ultra-charming and comfortable Villas de Loreto decided to sponsor a free trip, and it helped make the derby a big success.
This year, many other quality Baja operations offered trips, and some of the best were selected from two locations: Ensenada on the Pacific side, and Loreto on the Sea of Cortez.
Sponsoring a really terrific grand prize mixed-fishing trip package to Loreto this year, were:
Arturo's Sportfishing, Arturo Susarrey, one day of panga fishing, 011-52-613-135-0766, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baja Big Fish Company, Pam Bolles, one day of guided panga fly fishing, 011-52-613-104-0781, bajabigfish.com.
Mitch's Sportfishing, Mitchell Rose, one day of cruiser fishing on the Helena with the well-known Capt. Pablo Martinez, mitchssportfishing.com.
Villas de Loreto, Wendy Wilchynski and Ron Bellerive, four nights of beach front accommodations during the three days of fishing, 011-52-613-135-0586, email@example.com.
At nearby and very convenient Ensenada, these really excellent fishing prizes were sponsored by:
Lily Fleet, Sammy Susarrey, one day of cruiser fishing for three people out of Bahia Todos Santos, 011-52-646-186-7485, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vonny Fleet, Ivan and Martha Villarino, one day of traditional panga fishing at Punta Banda, plus one night's stay at the Vonny Fleet Cabañas, plus tackle if needed, 011-52-646-154-2046, email@example.com.
(Thanks are also due to Escondido's local "Bait & Tackle Store," whose owner Bob Fogal sponsored about $900 worth of tackle prizes for the derby. Thanks, Bob!)
That's one impressive lineup of prizes for a local trout derby, and it lured 750 anglers to Dixon Lake and made them open their wallets. Perhaps this Baja connection will continue to grow and become a tradition. I hope so. It's a very good way to give a positive impression of Baja and Mexico to many people who may have never been there before.
Muchas, muchas gracias to all of these top quality Baja operations, for helping our kids, and also for your role in the continuing history of the great sportfishing tradition of Baja California.
(Related Baja California, Mexico, articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Baja California information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Baja California area in "Mexico Fishing News.")