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

McDougall-Percillier gets top Rugby Canada honour

“I’m really stoked about getting this award”

Business notes: WINGS set to close on Aug. 29

A few of the things going on in Cowichan’s business community

Collision knocks over fire hydrant on Ypres Street

Duncan firefighters quick to get situation under control

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read