Larry Reid and his son Bryan were making a turn in their boat on Lake McSwain and Larry began to reel in his line.
"It felt like a small fish on the line. I reeled it in toward the boat," said the 82-year-old resident of Ceres.
His son Bryan reached over the back with a net and quickly announced: "Dad, it's got a tag!" In that split second, the two men knew Larry had caught a winning fish in the Lake McSwain Fall Trout Derby. What they didn't know was just how much the fish was worth. Against significant odds, Larry had unknowingly hooked the one-and-only top prize of the tournament, netting him $2,000. The fish was one of 50 that were tagged for the derby - and it was among 2,000 total pounds of trout placed in Lake McSwain for the competition.
More than 360 anglers were competing against Larry.
"That's the kind of thing that happens once in two or three lifetimes. I've become a celebrity," he joked afterward about catching the top prize.
After netting the tagged fish, Larry and Bryan spent some time showing off the fish back in the McSwain campground. When they went to check in with the MID Parks Staff, Parks Director Bret Theodozio informed Larry that he had caught the top prize.
"You got the big one," Reid recalled hearing from the Parks Director. "Everyone got so excited. It was a lot of fun. I felt like a movie star for a day."
Fifty of the trout had received tags with numbers ranging from 51 to 100. Tags 51 to 53 were set aside for first, second and third prize in the respective amounts of $2,000, $1,000 and $500. Anyone catching a trout with a tag between 54 and 100 would receive an equal share of the general prize pool. It was tag 51 that Larry Reid caught, using a double-bladed spinner rig that had 16 inches of leader and a night-crawler.
Some 365 anglers registered for the competition held on Oct. 7 and 8. Greg Viveiros brought in tag 88 and Joe Candelaria brought in tag 85. Each of the two anglers will receive $1,557, splitting a prize pool of $3,114.
The largest trout, weighing 32.5 ounces, was caught by Tuake Casiano of Manteca: he won $200.
Reid said he plans to give $800 of his $2,000 check to his son and fishing partner Bryan. Larry's remaining $1,200 will be put to use toward expenses for his new business. After retiring 14 years ago, he recently decided to keep busy by returning to real estate in Ceres. His wife, Jan, passed away not long ago after 48 years of marriage. He has two daughters outside the Ceres area, Kristine Alvers and Sherie Lazono.
Although Larry Reid intends to put his money and his time into his business, he said there is no question he will return to Lake McSwain for more fishing.
"We are very fortunate to have such a nice lake to go fishing so close to the Valley," said Reid.
Following the drought, regular trout plants have returned to Lake McSwain: 4,500 pounds have been planted since the end of August.