By James Murray
From five-thirty on they came.
At first in small groups of two or three, then more and more until there was a steady stream.
All in all, several hundred young anglers, all with an air of anticipation that defied the early hour, made their way to the end of the Salmon Arm wharf, followed by bleary-eyed adults carrying take-out cups of Tim Hortons coffee.
While the kids were full of excitement, many of the adults trudged along carrying lawn chairs, with one or two, sometimes three, fishing rods tucked under their arms. All were heading to the end of the wharf for the start of the 21st Annual Salmon Arm Kid’s Fishing Derby held this past Sunday in conjunction with Family Fishing Weekend.
By 6 a.m. there was a pretty good lineup at the registration table where volunteers Ellen Murray, Sue Murray, Barb Angrignon and Mayor Nancy Cooper were busy taking names and writing numbers on derby participants’ wrists. Derby co-organizers Donna Flatman, Ali Vann and Aaron Alcoot, along with myself and a half-dozen Rotary members had already been there since 5 a.m. setting up. As in previous years, six lifeguards were on hand throughout the course of the morning – luckily enough their skills were not required.
Within ten minutes of the official 7 a.m. start of the derby, Carson Blair caught and landed the first fish. Blair received a special handmade, wooden ‘keeper’ trophy (made by co-organizer Ali Vann) as well as a $100 gift certificate from Westside Stores for his catch.
From then on and throughout the morning there was a steady stream of young anglers making their way to the weigh-in station. However, no one made the trek more often than Koen Koppel, who made 18 trips to record and weigh in all his fish. Koppel, who established a new record in the Most Fish category, won a rod and reel outfit and a one year pass to the SASCU Recreation Centre swimming pool. Asa Weed place second and Darius Sept third in the category. Both received keeper trophies and rod and reel outfits.
Midway through the morning, young Julian Hudson hooked and landed a whopping 3.558 kg. carp to take first-place honours in the Largest Fish category. He will have his name inscribed on the SASCU Credit Union – W. J. (Bill) Murray Memorial Trophy. Hudson also received an IM-6 graphite fly rod and reel outfit, and, will get to take his whole family on an all-expenses-paid weekend fishing trip to Pillar Lake Fishing Resort that includes accommodations, boat and motor and $100 worth of groceries from Askew’s Foods. Not bad for one coarse fish. Dain Jones took second place honours, while Alex Smolne placed third. Both received keeper trophies and rod and reel outfits.
Nolan Walters and Aislynn Favell caught fish closest to a predetermined, secret hidden weight and each received a brand new shiny mountain bike and helmet from Canadian Tire. Two parents who took the time and made the effort to bring their kids to the derby won Family Appreciation prizes. One proud father, who had brought his three sons to the derby, won a belly boat courtesy of Rotary, while another family will get to spend a half-day onboard a sport or pontoon boat, courtesy of Sea Dog Rentals. All in all, several thousand dollars worth of prizes were handed out both during the course of the event and at the awards ceremony following the derby.
While it is sometimes hard for me to believe that 21 years have passed since the very first Kid’s Fishing Derby was held, I still get every bit as excited as the kids do come Sunday morning. I, too, feel anticipation. I can’t wait for the first fish to be caught and watch with pride as every young angler walks up to the weigh-in station to place their catch on the scales. Whether or not their fish is a contender for any of the prizes, all are weighed-in with a sense of accomplishment. For the winners in each category there are trophies and major prizes. For all the rest of the participants, as well as everyone else who takes part in the derby, whether organizing, volunteering, bringing their kids or just coming out to cheers the kids on, there is the reward of simply being a part of a worthwhile family event – and that’s a pretty good reward in itself if you ask me.