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

Poetry contest started for Vancouver Island poets

“We’re such a unique group,” says founder on why she wanted to start the collective

North Island College ready for a virtual fall semester

“It’s a really good time to be a student.”

Ten hour planned power outage coming for north Island residents

To keep crews and the public safe, power must be switched off while BC Hydro completes the work.

A parent’s pandemic survival kit: Are you rewarding bad behaviour? Part 2

The phrase, “be good” is just an anxiety-provoking nebulous idea that threatens rejection.

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

Most Read