Leah Tremain hoists her winning salmon caught in the first annual Rotary Fishing Derby which raised $2

Fun, fish, friendship and community giving in the Salmon Capital of the World

25 boats headed out, some as early as 5 a.m., to determine which club would have bragging rights

Fun, fish friendship and community giving marked the first Annual Rotary Fishing Derby bringing together in friendly rivalry the clubs from Campbell River, Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland May 30.

A chance meeting between two Rotary Club Presidents, Dave Bazowski, Campbell River Daybreak Rotary and Ron Perrin, Courtenay Rotary and the discovery of a mutual love of fishing developed into a six club derby off the shores of Campbell River. It was followed by a barbecue at the Maritime Heritage Centre, the House that Rotary built!

On Saturday morning, 25 boats headed out, some as early as 5 a.m., to determine which club would have bragging rights to bringing in the largest: Salmon, Salmon Youth, Halibut and Ling Cod. Overall bragging rights would belong to the club with the heaviest aggregate weight from their heaviest three fish.

By 6 p.m., fish were weighed and trophies awarded: Campbell River Daybreak aggregated at 47 pounds, winning the overall trophy while individual awards included Salmon trophy at 17.5 pounds (Leah Tremain), Youth trophy at 17 pounds (Nic Capello – Rotary’s exchange student from Italy), Halibut trophy at 43 pounds (Ben Howden) and largest Ling Cod at 31.5 pounds (Christina Peterson).

“Catching the winning fish was so exciting – the salmon put up a thrilling fight,” Tremain said. “I am originally from Ontario so have not caught many salmon in my life and catching this female spring salmon is definitely the highlight of fishing in Campbell River thus far.”

Although primarily meant to be fun, in typical fashion, the Rotary clubs turned it into a community fundraiser as $2,500 from the derby was donated to the Oyster River Salmon Enhancement Society.

“The Daybreak Rotary Fishing Derby allowed those of us new to fishing to get out on the water with seasoned Rotary fishermen,” said Capt. Kevin Simonett from Daybreak Rotary. “It was a beautiful day and to have five clubs out on the water was tons of fun. The chatter on the radio was competitive and hilarious. I will be signing up for every year now – I’m hooked!”