Dillon and Scott Harvey are proud of this chum salmon they got at the Browns Bay Chum Derby. Don Daniels photo

Browns Bay Chum Derby is a fun social event

By Don Daniels

Putting on a fishing derby takes time to organize and get everything in place such as prizes and getting people to enter.

For some of the locals, fishing the Chum Derby at Browns Bay will mark the end of this year’s fishing season and they’ll winterize their boats and store it away. But some people fish all winter. Others keep the boat at the marina, cover it up and fish again in the spring.

Weather this time of year can be challenging and when the wind and rain is blowing around you know the boats will be hanging around sheltered areas in order to keep fishing. That was the case last Friday but weather would improve for Saturday and Sunday.

This year the commercial chum fishery was closed but there was a window to fish the salmon for the sporties to try their luck. I spoke with a number of experienced fishing guides from Campbell and was told that they would not enter the Browns Bay Chum Derby because they fished all summer and are taking a break from their fishing routine.

The average size of chum runs between 10 and 14 pounds with the odd chum coming in at 21 or 23 pounds. This year’s winner of the chum derby was Michael Berger with a chum of 12.5 pounds. Second place went to Gordon May with his catch of 12.25 pounds and third place winner was Allen Gaetz with a 12 pound chum.

This derby has a culture all on its own and some of the boats coming in were dressed up. One boat in particular had a big inflatable duck on the roof – they were having fun. I saw the squid heads who come here year after year and it’s their yearly family fishing outing. Some were dressed in costume and they helped out at the cleaning table and it was an entertaining afternoon before the prizes were awarded.

Of note some sockeye salmon were hooked and released and whales were observed between Browns Bay and Plumper Bay. On Sunday afternoon, the prize tent was loaded and those who registered for the derby stayed around in hopes of winning various prizes and enjoy a cold beer and burger on the grill. In the three-day derby, some boats reported no fish catches but some reported catching a few chums. But chum numbers are down this year for sure.

With the recent rain, the river levels are higher and very fishable. The last time I fished the Campbell River, I put on my wading boots and shorts but now the neoprene waders are in order. The pools I fish will be a lot colder on the legs and a good walking stick is needed.

I am seeing a few fly casters out but those who spin cast could be in for an afternoon of fun fishing. Late fall you will see anglers fishing the Campbell River from Italy, Germany and the UK and they will fish well into late November.

In past years, I get a chance to trout fish Maple Lake near Cumberland well into December but it depends on the weather. You will notice more traffic on the logging roads because of people hunting in the area and those driving up on logging roads to high elevation areas are reporting very little snow but some areas are wet and slushy.

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