Annual fishing derby a community effort

This past Sunday morning I was down at the end of the wharf putting up posters for the upcoming Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby.

This past Sunday morning I was down at the end of the wharf putting up posters for the upcoming Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby (takes place Sunday, June 15), when I found myself watching a man fishing with two young boys. They were having fun catching pike minnows swimming around the waters near the docks. It brought back memories of the times my father took my older brother and myself fishing off the dock at Chetley Marsh.

Those long ago, lazy summer Sunday afternoons spent casting worms to small sauger and pan fish remain very vivid images in my memory.

I remember my father also took any kid that wanted to go fishing along with us. Most of the time he never even got a chance to cast a line. He was too busy keeping an eye on us kids, rigging up our gear, freeing snags and tying on new hooks, all the while making sure we didn’t fall into the water.

Looking back, I guess I was pretty lucky that my father was willing to spend the time with all of us kids.

I cannot help but wonder how many parents get to spend time together doing that sort of thing with their kids nowadays. It would seem that a lot of parents are too busy just trying to provide the material things in life for their kids, and don’t have the time. I’m just glad my father made the time.

That is why I started the Kid’s Fishing Derby – the year after my father passed away. One thing I do know for sure is that for the past 18 years, the derby has brought hundreds of families together where they have been able to spend time at the end of the wharf, sitting on the dock fishing, talking and enjoying each other’s company. It makes me feel good to see all those families together having fun. I think my father would be pleased.

It certainly pleases me when each year I also see all the parents with their kids, fishing rods in hand, walking down towards the registration table set up at the end of the wharf on the day of the derby. I also see a lot of grandparents bringing their grandkids to the derby, as well as adults who have brought their kids and their kids’ friends. Not to mention members of our local Rotary clubs, who not only help sponsor the derby each year, but also volunteer their time to help out the kids who haven’t quite got the hang of catching fish – yet.

It takes a good 30 people to put on an event the size of the Salmon Arm Kid’s Fishing Derby. That’s not including the lifeguards or Donna Flatman from the Shuswap Recreation Society – the derby’s official sponsor. She has co-ordinated the registration, lifeguards and awards presentation for the past 12  years, and is tireless in her efforts to see that the day of the derby runs well.

Another thing that also really pleases me is that a fair number of young people, who have previously taken part in the derby, are willing to help out for years after they are too old to participate. One young fellow came back for 10 years to weigh fish in, and another young lady still comes all the way from Kelowna to mentor many of the younger kids.

I want to say right here and now that I have complete faith in young people – in spite of what some of my generation might say. We also have a number of families who have moved away from the area but make the Father’s Day weekend a special occasion by coming back each year to participate in the derby. Each year they find the time.

So I guess you could say that it takes one angler to catch a fish but a whole community to put on a fishing derby.