The 'Big Fish' competition is on again in Dunsmuir.

Famous for its world-class fishing, the Upper Sacramento River is being stocked with 1,000 pounds of new trout as part of the city of Dunsmuir’s Trophy Trout/Big Fish program.

In addition to increasing the chances of a catch, the Trophy Trout program offers weekly prizes.

“To enter the contest, just take your fish in to Dunsmuir Hardware or submit a photo to the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce if you prefer to catch and release,” said Mayor Dave Keisler.

Photo submissions are judged and three anglers are awarded prizes each week.

Everyone who catches a fish is encouraged to participate.

About five times during the fishing season, Dunsmuir Public Works employee Brian Wilson travels to the Mt. Lassen hatchery in the Hat Creek area to pick up a load of trophy trout.

Wilson plants the trout at 20 different locations along the river throughout Dunsmuir.

The third batch of trout, which contained at least two gigantic eight-pound fish, was planted in the river Thursday, July 24, .

As he pulled up to the parking area at City Park, Wilson and Keisler engaged with visitors and distributed fishing maps created by donations from local businesses.

The maps are available at all lodges in the city and on the Chamber website:

Wilson explained to a crowd of spectators that the fish were altered in their egg stage, having a chromosome removed so they can’t reproduce and affect the native population. He pointed out that you can tell a native fish apart from a planted one by the bright red gills on the purchased trout.

An excited bunch of young kids were invited to view and ask questions about the fish. Then they followed Wilson down a dirt path to the river and watched as he carefully poured the trout from a large red bucket into the flowing river.

“It’s all about the kids and how excited they get,” said Keisler.

Wilson has been working for the Trophy Trout/Big Fish program throughout its five years. He visits Dunsmuir and Castle Rock Elementary Schools to educate students on trout fishing and likes to chat up anyone he spots with a fishing rod.

He shared his own love of fly-fishing, saying, “When I’m in the river, anything that was bothering me before goes away. It’s like a meditation.”

The Trophy Trout/Big Fish program is sponsored by the city of Dunsmuir with a $5,000 budget from the city’s general fund. The money is used to purchase trout, prizes and marketing. An additional $1,260 was donated this year by local businesses.

During California’s prolonged drought, the upper Sacramento River is one of the only places in California where the water is deep and cold enough for trout to thrive, according to a recent report by Dunsmuir City Manager Randy Johnsen.

More information about the program can be found at the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce website listed above or by calling 530-235-2177. There’s also a Trophy Trout Facebook page