It seems there is a fishing derby every weekend in the North Island. The fishing in this pocket of coastal British Columbia is internationally known, and it makes sense that competitions to catch the heaviest fish are as ubiquitous as weekend farmers markets in some towns.
A fishing derby over the Aug. 8 weekend, however was about more than just catching big ocean dwellers.
The fourth annual James Denton Memorial Fishing Derby celebrated the life of a young man with a fondness for the area and fishing.
Organizer Jeremy Sandeman says that James Denton was a wonderful young man who moved away from Port Hardy when he was a child, but would return frequently to indulge his love of fishing. Denton passed away in 2011 in Courtenay at age 19.
Over Saturday and Sunday competitors fished in area 19 and arrived for weigh-ins at The Bait Shack on the Bear Cove docks. On Sunday at noon the parking lot was packed with empty boat trailers attached to big trucks.
Under an overcast sky boats pulled up to the red-roofed Bait Shack to weigh their fish caught in area 19-Hardy Bay-aiming for the both the heaviest fish in each category and the hidden weight prizes. Participants hung out on the docks as boats pulled up, alongside two good-looking, shiny spring salmon lying prone beside The Bait Shack, caught by Port Hardy local Tony Kinley.
Sandeman says that the event is a nice way to remember James by doing an activity he enjoyed, and added that although there were not as many fish caught at this year’s event, it was still a fun weekend for all involved.
The competitors each year in the derby tend to be a good mix of locals and people from other parts of the island.
The weekend was capped off with a dinner Sunday evening at the Port Hardy Rod and Gun Club.
(Results were not available at presstime.)