An excited group of B.C miners took in a philanthropic fishing experience in Tofino last month.
The annual Hooked on Miracles charity fishing tournament has been held in Tofino since 2011 and has raised over $2 million for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
This year’s event spanned June 16-20.
About 25 fishing enthusiasts involved in B.C.’s mining industry pay $10,000 to participate in the all-inclusive experience and all proceeds go to the foundation.
The derby’s winners donate their prize money to the foundation as well.
The event’s co-chair Al Cloke has been involved with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation for roughly 20 years and told the Westerly News his passion for supporting the foundation stemmed from watching his daughter battle medical issues at a young age.
“When you wake up every morning, that’s the first thing you think of. So, if you can give back and you can get rid of that feeling in a few people by doing that, that’s pretty important,” Cloke said adding his daughter won her battle and now participates in the derby.
“She had some medical issues and science actually solved them. So, without guys like all of us getting together and helping, it might not have.”
The charity tournament included meals provided by Red Can Gourmet, wine pairings from Everything Wine and an auction buoyed by support from local businesses, chefs and fishing guides.
“The people of Tofino are very supportive…These guys all pull out the stops and that’s what makes the event so much fun,” Cloke said.
“This is a really fun place to be. We have fun in the tournament and it’s a great bunch of people to be around. If you can get the fun and the [fundraising] accomplishment together, it’s quite nice.”
He touted local fishing guides as a key reason for Tofino’s popularity amongst sportfisherman.
“There’s some really good quality guides in Tofino, much better than most other places,” he said.
“All the guides do a good job. We catch some good fish and have a lot of laughs.”
He added Tofino offers a more diverse range of amenities than most other fishing destinations.
“Tofino is a good rounded venue that we’ve found to be just a great spot,” he said. “Thank you Tofino. It’s been a great experience for all of us.”
He said Middle Beach Lodge consistently provides the perfect base for the annual event and assured the miners would return next year.
“It’s not a question,” he said. “It’s a sellout every year.”
Allan Chase of Tofino Fishing Group is the tournament’s local liaison and told the Westerly he’s stoked to welcome the miners every year.
“I’d like to give these guys a big hand for what they’re doing,” Chase said “A lot of hard work goes into it and they open up their hearts and their wallets to do a lot of good.”
He added the community’s support is a key lure that attracts miners from across the province to the event’s roster.
“The community is very welcoming. We couldn’t do this without the support from Tofino. Everyone is onboard with the cause,” he said. “We get great support from the community, the local guides are very supportive and it’s a great location.”
He added fishers enjoy a well-rounded West Coast experience.
“They have an absolute blast,” he said.
“Tofino has so much more to offer besides world class fishing and that makes it a premier destination…We’ve got some of the best restaurants in the world, beaches, surfing; there’s so much more to do here besides just fishing.”
The local fishing guides put together a prize package that is auctioned off during the tournament and this year’s package, which included an assortment of charters, accommodations and dinners, fetched $34,500, according to Chase.
After being auctioned off, the package is annually donated to BC Children’s Hospital so a child can take in the Tofino experience.
Chase recalled meeting an inspiring 16 year-old girl living with cancer who received the prize package last year and enjoyed spending time in Tofino with her family.
“They came and spent a wonderful weekend in Tofino fishing, whale watching, walking on the beaches and just hanging out as a family,” Chase said adding experiencing the young girl’s positive attitude towards adversity was inspirational.
“Once you participate in something like that, it changes your outlook on life. It is life changing and everyone is super proud to be a part of this.”
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne welcomed the miners to Tofino and was thrilled to see her community shine during the tournament.
“It’s always fantastic for us to show off our hospitality and the beautiful environment here. These are visitors to our area and we want to be gracious hosts as well as encourage them to come back and bring their families to Tofino at other times of the year,” she said.
“I was happy to welcome them to Tofino and thank them for spending their time and their efforts here and for raising money for a good cause.”