Over 125 anglers from across North America went fishing for local charities in participation with the seventh annual Tofino Saltwater Classic from July 1-3.
Hosted by former NHLer Brendan Morrison, the derby reeled in over $50,000 for several Tofino community initiatives, including the Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society.
“The majority of the guys that enter this event are passionate anglers. For future stock and salmon enhancement overall, I think it’s important to be aware and make people conscious,” Morrison said.
“This isn’t a replenishable resource. Naturally with the way that fishing is trending, I think with the assistance of organizations like the Pacific Salmon Foundation and smaller hatcheries that do help contribute to the local salmon population makes fishing more enjoyable for everyone.”
Mark Kosick from Victoria was the luckiest on the water over the weekend, catching the top Chinook at 25.6 pounds and taking home a cash prize of $6,000. Kosick told the crowd at the awards ceremony that he caught his big fish using anchovy as bait with a blue prawn teaser.
“We were about to pack it in and then the fish came up. It’s pure luck, that’s absolutely true,” said Kosick who played college hockey at the University of Michigan with Morrison.
“I can’t say enough about Brendan and all he does with the community,” he added.
The runner up for biggest Chinook was Chris Johnson (23.7 pounds) and Natalie Bitove took third place (22.5 pounds) as well as top the prize for largest Coho (8.2 pounds).
Last year’s derby winner Levi Stoddard from Calgary won the cash prize for hooking the biggest halibut at a whopping 50.1 pounds.
Morrison told the Westerly he was stoked to see a lot of new faces on the water this year.
“It creates new energy for the event. Every year just seems to be getting better and better,” he said.
“I would like to thank everybody for participating and coming out. I know it’s a commitment for a lot of people to get over to Tofino time wise and financially as well. I just really appreciate people’s support. And then for the locals that hop on board and donate their time to this charity.”
Since its inception, the Tofino Saltwater Classic fundraising derby has raised more than $300,000 for the community.
Morrison also took time over the weekend to play a game of road hockey with some students from Wickaninnish Community School.
“The kids get pretty excited. It’s always fun. Anytime you can put a smile on a kids face or anybody’s face for that matter is enjoyable,” he said.