Oasis State Park hosts fishing derby

Freedom New Mexico: Clarence Plank Charly Kizer of Clovis, right, dries a catfish off with a towel for John Walker of Capitan, center, before weighing it on Saturday at Oasis State Park for the “Biggest Catfish Challenge” Derby. The derby is sponsored by the Friends Of Oasis St

By Clarence Plank: Freedom New Mexico

Many fisherman have tales to tell about the one that got away. But some of those participating in the “Biggest Catfish Challenge” Derby at Oasis State Park Saturday definitely earned bragging rights.

Robert Quinn of Portales has been fishing for nine years and heard about the derby from a friend. He figured he would come down and try his luck.

“I got here right about 6 p.m., they almost didn’t let me participate,” Quinn said.

Quinn was one of 111 contestants, seniors and children, who jammed into the park trying their luck in catching catfish.

Aileen Eastwood, president of the Friends of Oasis State Park, said her group thought about putting together a derby for a long time, but it never came together.

“So this year we decided to try and work it out and we decided on Labor Day weekend,” Eastwood said. “We got it together and it turned out better than we expected.”

Participants tried their luck with just about any kind of bait to fool the catfish into biting. Quinn used garlic shrimp power bait. Others tried worms, turkey and chicken livers.

Money from entry fees is earmarked for cash prizes and to help upgrade the park.

“It’s whatever park manager Jim Whary thinks he needs that we can do. It has to go back to the park,” said Eastwood.

Mechelda Dawby and her son Nathan Dawby were in town from Hobbs visiting family and tagged along to do some fishing.

“As a child growing up here, what surprises me is how much they have improved this park,” Dawby said. “I wish it was like this when I was growing up. This is fantastic especially for families to sit and relax with their grandparents.”

Eastwood said winners would be announced at a later date.