When Hank Van-Vuren set out on Lake McClure from Barrett Cove with his brother for a day of bass fishing, he expected just another one of many relaxing days on the water.
But by the end of the day, he was $500 richer and had reached legendary status as a McClure angler. He was also in some “serious debt” to at least two family members and a nearby casino.
In spring, MID Parks and Recreation began the Gold Tagged Trout promotion. Five gold-tagged trout were placed in Lake McSwain, each worth $250. Another five trout with gold tags were placed in Lake McClure, each worth $500. Throughout the summer, four of McSwain’s gold-tagged trout were caught. None from Lake McClure were caught – until this week when Van-Vuren hooked a healthy 21-inch trout, weighing in at 3.5 pounds, and carrying the first gold tag.
“Catching that sucker was a prize on its own, because it was healthy and I knew that it would make a great dinner for my wife Gail and I once we threw it on the BBQ,” said Van-Vuren.
Van-Vuren, a long time fisherman of Lake McClure has always relied on our recreational area for a pleasant experience, because having 21 grandkids and a family that loves to fish means finding a location that meets everyone’s needs and is located right in your backyard.
At first Van-Vuren didn’t know he had caught anything more than a healthy sized trout. His brother, Gerry, told him it was a gold tagged trout that was part of a promotion going on at Lakes McClure and McSwain.
“I looked at him and swore he was lying, until he convinced me that he wasn’t and I should turn it in at the front office for a cash prize,” said Van-Vuren, a retired owner of Van-Vuren Farms, his dairy of 52 years in Escalon, CA.
As expected, Van-Vuren is as squirmy with excitement as the trout he caught, and his lucky afternoon at Lake McClure. This is where the debts begin. His brother, without whom he would have never turned in the tag, has requested lunch. Van-Vuren also immediately promised his wife a trip to a nearby casino in addition to a great trout dinner. He says his debts don’t end there: his buddies now look to him to pay for coffee at their local meeting spot each morning.
Van-Vuren is happy to do all of that and more.
“I cannot thank MID and everyone else involved enough for putting on such a great promotion. I can hardly wait to make a trip back with my family,” he said.
As of today, the most recent catch leaves four more gold-tagged trout in Lake McClure and one in Lake McSwain. Plenty of camping is available and campfires are now permitted. For more information visit lakemcclure.com or like us on the Lake McSwain and Lake McClure Facebook pages. A complete set of rules and information for the Gold Tagged Trout promotion can be found here.