Nor-Cal Guides & Sportsmen’s Association (NCGASA) Derby Rules

1. All participants wishing to enter the Hatchery Steelhead Derby must register and pay their entry fees before the event start date on Jan. 1, 2023. The Derby will kick off Jan. 1 at 6 a.m. The Derby will end at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2023. Any entries submitted after 6 p.m. will not be entered. Registration is now closed. Official Rulers are available at RMI Outdoors in Eureka.

Winner Pay Outs: In the ADULT category, the 3 biggest hatchery steelhead measured, photographed correctly in adherence to the rules, will win $500, $300 and $150 cash prizes. In the YOUTH category, the 3 biggest hatchery steelhead measured, photographed correctly in adherence to the rules, will win gift certificates (TBA). The 3 best steelhead fishing videos submitted from the Derby will win a Sponsor Product Package. Videos can be a social media Story, Reel or digital video formats such as MP4 or MOV or QuickTime. Please tag #MadRiverSteelheadDerby in these videos. 

*Derby Entry Fees: ADULTS $40. YOUTH $25 (**16 and under). Included in your fees are a FREE annual NCGASA membership, FREE Steelhead sticker and a drawing entry into our weekly Sponsors Product Raffles on our social media accounts. Entry fees must be paid in full at time of signup.

*You must be a current NCGASA MEMBER in order to ENTER THIS DERBY and in ORDER TO WIN CASH & PRIZES from NCGASA. Derby Awards Ceremony TBA. NCGASA has the right to alter or change these rules at any time.

**If you are 16 and under, but wish to participate in the adult category, you must pay the adult derby fee and notify the derby coordinator you are doing so. 

2. Any entries submitted before the derby start date or after the derby end date will not be entered. Any cheating on this matter will end in disqualification. 

3. All participants must have a valid California fishing license and current steelhead report card and must follow all California Department of Fish and Wildlife rules and regulations that are in place for the winter steelhead season. Barbed hooks are not allowed.

4. The boundaries of the Derby are the Mad River mouth to Boundary Creek.

5. All hatchery steelhead entries from the Mad River only must be measured on the official NCGASA steelhead rulers — made possible by our sponsors. Measure from the head to the center (or fork) of the tail, laying your hatchery steelhead on top of the ruler — straight — with the head up against the butt of one end of the ruler and the tail centered at the other end of the ruler. Also, close the fish’s mouth as best you can. Entries must be *photographed on these official NCGASA steelhead rulers and an overall length measurement photograph must be clear and visible in the photographic evidence. Measurement photos must be taken ON/AT the Mad River watershed. Any photos taken elsewhere (example: at your home) are subject to disqualification. Submit multiple photographs of the measurement in order to verify the overall length. For instance, additional close up photos of the tail in order to see the measurement marks on the ruler.

Send submissions to or post photos to Mad River Steelhead Derby on Facebook or Instagram with the measurement number (example: 26.5 inches) and your name and contact information. Note: Some photos that are shared in Messenger — the measurements may not be visible or clear as Messenger will downsize any images.

Submissions can be denied if we cannot see the marks on the rulers clearly, so it is best to submit multiple photos for acceptance and entered on to the Derby’s Leaderboard. You may also submit a video of the measurement along with your photos to help verify the accuracy of the measurement.

6. Photographing Guidelines
Hatchery Steelhead should be measured and photographed in pristine condition on the Mad River watershed directly after catching. We prefer to see your fish in its natural habitat on the river bar and at its freshest. Wipe off any blood or dirt if possible before photographing. Try to keep your hands out of the way near the head or the tail measurements and try not to create a shadow when standing over your fish in the overall measurement photograph. You may submit multiple entries. NCGASA will take your biggest fish for your final entry into the Derby. 

NO soft tape or other measuring device photos will be accepted as an official entry. Any questionable photos where we cannot see the head butted up or touching the end of the ruler, the tail end point, and the overall length measurement on the ruler are subject to disqualification. NO photos of fish carcasses or manipulated or altered fish will be accepted. No gutted or filleted fish photos will be accepted. NO fish photographed at your home or elsewhere other than at the Mad River will be accepted.

Avoid taking photos of your fish on your tailgate, or tables, or on the cement, or under trees that create shadows. If you are disabled and cannot bend down to take your photos on the ground and or rocks, we encourage you to take a video of your fish on the ruler from above at 2X magnification.  Please alert the Derby Coordinator ahead of time if you are disabled. 

7. Only hatchery steelhead caught while the river is open to fishing can be submitted. Derby participants must follow the current CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife regulations. Visit for more info. Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation books are online and free and can be picked up 619 2nd St., Eureka, (707) 445-6493.

8. Winners will be determined by the Derby fishing coordinator and reps. Winners based on the longest, measured, hatchery steelhead on the provided ruler and entered correctly within the Derby event dates. Upon an exact tie in length, the Derby fishing coordinator and NCGASA reps can determine a new payout and/or prizes. All potential winning entries will be subject to a final review by NCGASA reps and an advisory panel if a measurement is determined to be incorrect or in question. Any and all disputes will be solved by NCGASA. Any cheating on the derby deemed by NCGASA will be a forfeiture of all monies paid. 

9. You may harvest only hatchery steelhead. The adipose fin will be clipped on a hatchery steelhead. All hatchery steelhead must be caught in the mouth by rod and reel and landed legally by hand or net with barbless hooks. Please revive and release any native fish with full adipose fins. Please try to keep any native fish submerged and their gills in the water. You may also donate your fish to a CDFW Mad River Steelhead Steward with a fishing holding tube that is nearby. Keep Fish Wet. #keepemwet 

10. All California Department of Fish and Wildlife rules must  be followed including Mad River low-flow closures during this Derby. For the Low Flow River Closure hotline call (707) 822-3164 — it is updated every Mon, Wed, Friday. Note: Even if the river rises to more than 200 cfs, the river still may be closed per CDFW. You must call the number in order to find out. All participants must follow all local, state and federal laws regarding fishing on the Mad River. 

 NCGASA reserves the right to disqualify any entry if we feel the Derby Entry Rules & Requirements were not met and the photographic guidelines were not followed. NCGASA reserves the right to modify the requirements and rules at any time. Derby anglers are required to know the rules and requirements of this Derby before submitting your entries.

NOTE: CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife has noticed some hatchery fish may have partial adipose fins that are considered missed clips. Please visit our Blog for more info. on how to tell if you caught a hatchery or native steelhead or click here. If you are unsure, please revive and release your catch. Please keep native fish submerged with their gills underwater. If there is a Mad River Steelhead Steward nearby with a holding tube, please call them over to help you determine if you have a native or hatchery fish. Consider donating any native steelhead you catch to the broodstock collection programPlease consider releasing big hatchery fish for better genetics.