Fishing derby a family-oriented event

The other day I received a number of parcels from the Family Fishing Society of British Columbia.

Inside were some prizes for the upcoming Salmon Arm Kid’s Fishing Derby, which will take place on Sunday, June 18 down at the end of the wharf at Marine Park.

The derby runs in conjunction with the BC Family Fishing Weekend, an event designed, quite simply, to encourage people to get together, with family and friends, and go fishing.

“During the BC Family Fishing Weekend, BC residents can go fishing anywhere in the province with a friend or family member and become reacquainted with the great sport of fishing,” says Family Fishing Society of BC executive director Owen Bird.

Back in 1999, following a significant decline in freshwater sport fishing licence sales, the BC Family Fishing Weekend program was created to help rebuild angler demographics. Incorporated as a non-profit society in 2002, the Family Fishing Society of BC is mandated to encourage and develop new anglers, as well as promote and co-ordinate the BC Family Fishing Weekend. Overseen by a board of directors from the angling community and assisted by representatives from both provincial and federal government agencies, the society works closely with BC’s angling sector.

Each year the Family Fishing Society of BC helps co-ordinate dozens of special community fishing events that attract more than 10,000 B.C. residents. The Annual Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby is one such event.

Over the past 21 years, the Kids Fishing Derby has become one of the most popular events in the Shuswap, attracting hundreds of people annually.

Along with all the trophies, there will be $5,000 in prizes handed out to participating anglers.

The Kids Fishing Derby is open to all children 12 years of age and under. There is no cost to enter the derby and the only restrictions are that participants must wear a life-jacket or personal flotation devise (P.F.D.) and be accompanied by an adult. As in past years, registration takes place Sunday morning, prior to the 7 a.m. start. Only coarse fish are eligible for prizes and all fish must be caught by the kids. Parents can, however, help net the fish.

Trophies and prizes are presented immediately after the end of the derby at 11 a.m.

In the 21 years that I have been involved with the Kid’s Fishing Derby, I’ve watched a lot of families make their way along that wharf. I’ve watched the looks of anticipation and excitement on the kids’ faces as they made their way to the registration table. I’ve always felt a certain respect for all the still-half-asleep parents and grand-parents who follow the kids, carrying fishing gear and cups of hot coffee.

Many times over the years I have stood at the top of the wharf and looked down at all the families spending time together talking, laughing, fishing and, well, just having fun as a family.

It makes me feel pretty good to be a part of such an event.

It would be an understatement to say that the BC Family Fishing Weekend program has been a tremendous success. In 2012, Fisheries and Oceans Canada presented the Family Fishing Society of British Columbia with the National Recreational Fisheries Award. Recognition well deserved. However, I think a better way to gauge the success of the Family Fishing Weekend program would be to look at all the anglers who come down to the Salmon Arm wharf in the weeks prior to the Kid’s Fishing Derby to practice and get the hang of fishing for coarse fish, who then continue to come down to fish off the docks in the weeks afterwards. It sort of reminds me of that credit card ad: two fishing rods $75, hooks, bait and coffee $10, time spent together fishing and talking – priceless.