Salmon Fest president Dan Washington stands with $15,000 Salmon Festival winner Jim Boorman and Trent and Harlen Morse. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

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

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

Tofino’s library is currently located in the basement of the Tofino Legion building but talks are underway to build a brand new facility. (Andrew Bailey photo)
The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Most Read