Salmon Fest president Dan Washington stands with $15,000 Salmon Festival winner Jim Boorman and Trent and Harlen Morse. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Labour Day weekend in Port Alberni wouldn’t be the same without a salmon derby, so the Alberni Valley Tyee Club will deliver despite the global coronavirus pandemic.

A group of sportfishers are organizing the socially distanced Port Alberni Ultimate Fishing Derby for Sept. 5–7, 2020 without an accompanying festival.

The Port Alberni Salmon Festival committee cancelled its annual fest and fishing derby two months ago, due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people.

READ: Port Alberni cancels 49th annual Salmon Festival

“We were following the advice of (the B.C. medical health officer) of less than 50,” Salmon Fest president Dan Washington said. “The board made the decision to not host the festival in 2020. The Tyee Club said ‘we want to have a fishing derby.’”

The salmon derby and festival got its start as a Port Alberni Tyee Club salmon derby in 1971. It wasn’t until 1972 when Fred Duncan, then the publisher of the now defunct Alberni Valley Times, came up with the idea of a Labour Day festival to keep people in town.

“In this town on the long weekends, everyone would hop in their trucks and campers and go camping,” said longtime resident and fisher Bob Cole, who grew up in Port Alberni. “The town was deserted.”

The derby was so popular at one point that Cole, a past-president of the Salmon Fest committee, said nearly 4,400 tickets were sold in one year.

So it’s not a stretch for the Tyee Club to host the fishing part of the weekend, he added.

Al Ehrenberg, owner at Gone Fishin’ in Port Alberni, Courtenay and Nanaimo, is taking the lead on the derby. “People have been clamouring for it,” he said. “Myself, Carolyn (Jasken of the Ultimate Fishing Town campaign) and Bob (Cole) decided we should have a derby.”

“Fishing in your boat with your family is as big at social distancing as you can get,” Cole said.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has traditionally approved the derby for sportfishers in that weekend slot, and both Cole and Ehrenberg said they wanted to keep that slot open for future years. “The DFO has always given us an opportunity to have a successful fishery in the Alberni Inlet that has great economic impact on the Alberni Valley,” he said.

“We are granted a window to do this derby and we should take advantage of it…there is no reason not to do a derby.”

READ: Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

The salmon derby will help celebrate the 10th anniversary of Port Alberni’s ‘Ultimate Fishing Town’ win. The prize structure will be the same as during Salmon Fest: daily prizes of $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000 for the top three fish as well as a $5,000 bonus for the biggest fish caught during the derby. A leader board will be posted on social media.

Fish will be weighed at a special weigh station on Centennial Pier at Harbour Quay, Cole said. Length, girth and weight of the fish will be recorded, a photo will be taken and the fish returned to the derby participant. “We won’t clean the fish, we won’t keep the fish, due to COVID-19 rules,” he said.

The Port Alberni Port Authority approved the new pier as a weigh-in spot: previously, fish were brought to Clutesi Haven Marina or in more recent years Tyee Landing for weigh-in. Ehrenberg said there should be a weigh-in spot in Bamfield as well. As the organizing committee approaches sponsors, they hope to have hidden weight prizes.

Ehrenberg said the derby needs to sell 1,000 derby tickets to break even; he isn’t sure how many tickets will be printed. Sportfishers wanting to enter the derby must pay $50 per ticket, one ticket per each rod on a boat.

A portion of ticket sales will go toward salmon enhancement programs.

Tickets are available at Gone Fishin’ and other marine stores in the Alberni Valley.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

fishingPORT ALBERNI

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Robin Hayes, second from left, accepts a $1,000 cheque from Amanda Critchley, left, manager of Gone Fishin’; Dan Washington, president, and Chris Wynans of Port Alberni Salmon Festival; and Ryan Henri, owner of Gone Fishin’. Hayes’s derby ticket was a random draw winner. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News

Just Posted

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farm seeks court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. on Oct. 31, 2018. Several Vancouver Island mayors and members of British Columbia’s salmon farming industry say a federal decision to phase out fish farming has left them feeling “disposable and discarded.” In a letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, they say they weren’t consulted before she announced a plan to phase out open-net pen fish farming in the Discovery Islands over the next 18 months. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward
Strathcona Regional District pens letter to Trudeau about fish farm closure

Minister Jordan, MLA Babchuk and MP Blaney also included in letter

Telus representative Doug Anastos (top left) and SitePath Consulting Ltd.’s consultant Brian Gregg (top right) present to the SRD board, including CAO David Leitch (bottom left) and Cortes Island director Noba Anderson, on Jan. 13, 2021. Photo courtesy SRD/Youtube
Improved wireless connection for Quadra, Cortes pitched to SRD

Idea includes new towers at various locations on islands

Eva Xu (left) and Joanne Moon (right) presents Campbell River Hospital Foundation executive director Stacey Marsh (centre) with a $1,476 cheque to go towards the new mammography machine at the hospital. Photo supplied by Campbell River Hospital Foundation.
Gourmet Essentials donates nearly $1,500 to Hospital Foundation

Machine will cut wait times for mammogram results

Campbell River celebrates Family Literacy Week Jan. 24 to Jan. 30. Photo contributed
Downtown and city parks scavenger hunts lets you and the kids get out of the house

Campbell River celebrates Family Literacy Week themes of Travel the World and Let’s Be Active

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Island driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Most Read