Column: Preparations underway for fishing derby

Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby will take place Sunday, June 17, on the wharf at Marine Park

I received an email the other day from Owen Bird of the Family Fishing Society of BC.

It started out, “Well, it’s almost that time of year again,” referring to the fact that the annual BC Family Fishing Weekend, which this year will be held June 15 to 17, is just around the corner. This immediately made me think the 22nd annual Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby, which will take place Sunday, June 17 on the wharf at Marine Park, is also just around the corner.

Not to worry, I thought to myself. After all, preparations for this year’s derby are well in hand and well underway.

The BC Family Fishing Weekend was originally designed, quite simply, to encourage people to get together with family and friends and go fishing. This year, an estimated 25,000 people will participate in BCFFW events around the province.

“Our goal is to encourage British Columbians, especially young people, to go fishing and have fun with family and friends,” explained Bird. “The program offers three opportunities to the public. First, B.C.’s residents can go fishing anywhere in the province with a friend or family member and get reacquainted with the great sport of fishing… Second, each year during the Father’s Day weekend, there are many popular community events around the province that help people, particularly kids, learn about fishing, fish and conservation in a fun and relaxed environment. And third, our website and literature offer information and education on angling that will teach the public how to fish.”

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 coordinate 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 B.C.’s angling sector. The society’s primary objective is to encourage British Columbians to take up recreational angling as a pastime, and to enjoy the province’s many world-class sport fishing opportunities.

Representatives from the fishing tackle sector, sport fishing lodges and resorts, as well as both the federal and provincial governments, all work closely with the Family Fishing Society to create awareness of the program and to encourage participation.

“Once young people have tried angling, we think they’ll be hooked,” says Bird. “It’s a way for young people to have lots of fun.”

Each year the Family Fishing Society of BC helps coordinate dozens of special community fishing events that attract more than 10,000 people. Locally, the Annual Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby attracts 600 to 800 people to the wharf on Father’s Day morning, and each year the derby’s organizers have worked in conjunction with the Family Fishing Society to make the event bigger and better. I know that over the years I have seen first-hand how the Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby has grown to become one of the most popular and successful events held here in the Shuswap. This is in no small part due to a lot of hard work by a small group of event organizers, including Aly Vann and Donna Flatman. Not to mention all the volunteers. Then there’s all the finical support from a number of service groups and businesses in the community, not to mention a whole lot of support from The Family Fishing Society. The list goes on.

According to Bird, back in 1999, following a significant decline in both tidal and freshwater sport fishing licence sales, the BC Family Fishing Weekend program was devised to help rebuild angler demographics. It would be an understatement to say that the program has been a success.

One thing I do know for sure is that it’s pretty darned cool come derby morning when some young adult walks up to me with their children to register and I look at them and can remember back to when they were casting their lines into the lake as kids taking part in the derby. That is a special reward in itself and one of the reasons I like helping put the event on – that and the fact the derby was started all those years ago in memory of my father.

I guess when all is said and done, maybe that’s why I look forward so much to “that time of the year.”

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