Elevating at elevation: WON partnership to ‘level up’ Big Trout Campout

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AN IMPRESSIVE hookjaw lightning trout caught by Victor Hernandez who was tossing a Trucha Spoon at Lake Hemet
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Q&A with Lake Hemet’s Sales and Marketing Manager

BY MIKE STEVENS

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HEMET— This year’s Big Trout Campout at Lake Hemet (April 27-28) will only be its third running, but it came out of the gates as an instant classic and draws a crowd like a derby that has been going on for decades. The 2024 event will be the first commandeered by the Western Outdoor News tournament staff in an effort to make the most of its momentum and maximize its draw.

The inaugural event and the follow-up was spearheaded by Lake Hemet Sales and Marketing Manager Ariana Kimes who set the groundwork that drew anglers from all over Southern California. With the 2-day trout derby with thousands in cash and prizes up for grabs just a few months out, WON connected with Kimes for a Q&A covering the popular event.

What is it about the Big Trout Campout that draws these big crowds?

I really think that it’s the full experience, camping and spending two days together fishing the same lake and the camaraderie with other anglers while you are there.

What are some things a first timer should know before heading up?

This event sells out well in advance, so registering as soon as possible is the biggest thing., We also have limited shoreline depending on the water level, so we encourage guests to bring kayaks, boats and float tubes. This event is the only time float tubes are allowed at Lake Hemet.

Hemet Lake has a full-compliment of camping options, right?

From tent camping to partial hookups, full hookups and premium RV spots, we have a wide variety of camping options. “Glamping” tents are seasonal and not available yet.

The trout stocking program seems to have improved over the last few years in terms of numbers, quality and consistency of the plants. Was that something management set out to accomplish?

It 100 percent was a concerted effort to draw anglers to Lake Hemet. Our General Manager, Arlene Arenas, has been at Lake Hemet for four years, and it was a goal of hers to prioritize private stocking and invest into that program. Prior to that, Lake Hemet had never had private stocking. Each stock from Mount Lassen are 4,000 pounds (rainbows and lightning trout as available), and this year alone Lake Hemet will invest $100,000 in trout stocking. It’s something we feel is worth the money.


And you get private trout plants as well as DFW stocking, right?

Yes, and it’s been great to have the DFW supplement our stocking.

ONE OF EACH— A lightning trout and a rainbow caught out of picturesque Lake Hemet.

It seems like most of the campground shorelines are good for fishing, which areas really stand out for a trout angler fishing from shore?

I think all of them. I don’t think there is a bad campground to fish from. We have a mile-and-a-half of shoreline, so there is a wide variety of spots to cast from. There might be some spots that anglers personally favor, but we see anglers all over.

How can boaters find success?

It’s a great lake for trolling, Lake Hemet is about half a mile wide. There are only humans accessing one shoreline, so there is a tremendous area to fish from.

What are you hoping this partnership with WON brings to the table?

Our enthusiasm about partnering with Western Outdoor News is primarily because we want to see this event elevated. We took it as far as we could, and we are really excited to partner with someone who can elevate the entire event.

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Marlon welded utility boat stands as grand raffle prize at Big Trout Campout

 Heavy-duty transom and transom support 

Marlon Utilities are built with exceptional performance and lasting dependability in mind. In a constant effort to stand out from the competition, Marlon Utility boats are all welded hulls with heavy-duty extruded center keels and four formed in-bottom strakes for extra strength. These boats Include rearranged rear side seats for extra seating and stability, and all seats are covered in high density EVA for comfort. Marlon Utilities have wide beams for added room, wide bottoms for better stability and depth so you feel safe with the kids or when fighting a fish. Back in 2021, Marlon added a stamped transom for extra strength, optional high back seat w/ detachable swivel assembly.

The Marlon SWV 12S-12’ going home with a lucky Big Trout Campout angler will come perfectly matched with a 9.9 horsepower Suzuki outboard.

 

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Portable Power: Suzuki’s efficient and dependable DF9.9B outboard

Ultramodern design makes the new Suzuki DF9.9B EFI one of the most technically advanced, portable outboards on the market today. This is the world’s first 9.9 HP outboard motor designed with Lean Burn and Battery-Less Electronic Fuel Injection. The Suzuki EFI system is first in the industry’s horsepower class to work without a battery. The DF9.9B EFI is the smooth running “Next Generation” four-stroke, which delivers quick starts, great acceleration, astounding performance and superior fuel economy. Lean Burn keeps you in control and completely aware of how your motor is functioning. With the use of electronic sensors, Lean Burn connects straight from the engine to your central control system, giving you live information on speed, acceleration and your motor’s conditions.

THE SUZUKI DF9.8B outboard powers the Marlon Boat, and the combo teams up for an incredible raffle prize at the WON Lake Hemet Big Trout Campout
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