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Almanor anglers get chance to make wishes come true  

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All fishermen take to the water wishing to catch the fish of a lifetime. On Saturday, Aug. 6 on Lake Almanor anglers can make the wishes of sick children come to fruition by joining the Seventh Annual Fish For A Wish trout derby.

The derby got its start when AJ Casella lost his best friend to leukemia 10 years ago when both were in the fourth grade.

Watching his friend battle the disease left a lasting impact on Casella. Also leaving an impact was the comfort and happiness his friend experienced with the Make-A-Wish Foundation when the youngster went to Fenway Park in Boston for a baseball game.

Casella, 20, keeps his friend’s spirit alive and brings hope to other sick children with his annual Fish-For-A-Wish trout derby on Lake Almanor.

This year’s event is the seventh annual and will be held Aug. 6 from Big Cove Resort.

The $60 entry fee provides entry to the derby, the chance to catch a tagged trout worth $10,000, t-shirt, lunch with beer/soda and raffle tickets.

The tournament runs from 6 a.m. to noon. Check-in begins at 5 a.m. at Big Cove Resort

Beside the $10,000 trout, 14 other trout will have prize tags attached. A silent auction takes place at the weigh-in.  

Casella’s previous six derbies have raised more than $200,000 dollars. The first one raised $12,000 and each derby has grown. Last year approximately $70,000 was earned through 110 anglers and 400 people at the lunch/silent auction. This year it Casella hopes the addition of the tagged trout brings more anglers.

Winner of the derby will be determined by the heaviest five trout.

“This started as a small idea,” said Casella, who just finished his freshman year at University of Southern California. “Seeing what Make-A-Wish did for my friend and knowing the kind of hope it brings to children made this the charity I wanted to do. It gives children something to look forward to or something to look back upon.”

Casella’s family owns Big Cove Resort and AJ spent summers fishing on the lake. The event combines his love for fishing with his desire to help others.

Casella struck upon the idea when he was in seventh grade. His mom helped him follow through by setting up a meeting with the Make-A-Wish staff in San Francisco. The then 13 year-old made the presentation by himself and received the endorsement of Make-A-Wish.

The tournament record fish is an 8-3/4 pound brown trout caught three-years ago. The fishing isn’t always red hot, but the August date works well because Almanor is full of tourists that time of year.

Non-anglers can donate cash, prizes to the silent auction, or help by buying raffle tickets or participating in the silent auction. 


Big Cove Resort, 442 Peninsula Drive Lake Almanor, Ca 96137 (530) 596-3349 


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