James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the ORL Salmon Arm branch on Saturday, Feb. 25.

James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the ORL Salmon Arm branch on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Getting in gear for fishing derby

This year’s Family Fishing Weekend is but a scant four and a half months away.

This morning I received an email from Owen Bird, CEO of the Family Fishing Society of BC reminding me that this year’s Family Fishing Weekend is but a scant four and a half months away.

Bird said this year he expects some 50-plus communities, Salmon Arm included, will be hosting some sort of Family Fishing Weekend event. Plenty of time to get things ready for the Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby I thought to myself. Or is it?

The Family Fishing Weekend program was originally devised to help rebuild angler demographics following a significant decline in both tidal and freshwater sport fishing licence sales. It would be an understatement to say the program has been a success.

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.

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.

The society’s programs are targeted toward families and young people.

“Once they’ve tried angling, we think they’ll be hooked,” says Bird. “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.

This year, an estimated 25,000 people will take advantage of Family Fishing Weekend (June 16 to 18) when BC residents do not require a freshwater fishing licence to try their hand at angling.”

Each year a number of programs and events, including the Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby, held each Father’s Day at the end of the Salmon Arm wharf, are organized in conjunction with the annual Family Fishing Weekend. Other programs, like Fishing Buddies and Learn To Fish, sponsored by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia, have also been structured to help counter the fact that angling participation has been in somewhat of a decline over the past 15 years or so.

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia cites a number of factors as to why there are fewer anglers out on the water. The key reasons include less free time, the fact that many children are already involved in other forms of organized sports, both parents are working, weekends are too busy and the fact that the majority of B.C. residents live in the greater Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island areas, where opportunities to go fishing are limited.

In response, the FFSBC has launched the Fishing in the City program in specific geographic areas to try to encourage families with children to try fishing.

All I know is that way back when I was a kid, it didn’t take much to get me to go fishing. All it took was a warm sunny summer’s afternoon.

Fishing was fun back then, just plain, simple fun – a way to while away the idle summer days of my youth.

Fishing is still fun. And speaking of having fun, it takes a lot of organizing to put on a fun event such as the Kids Fishing Derby.

Four-and-a-half months can fly by pretty quickly when you’re not paying attention, so I think I’d better take Owen Bird’s reminder to heart and get cracking on getting things ready for this year’s derby. There’s fundraising to be done, new signage, posters, advertising and promotion, and all sorts of other things that need to be done before derby day.

It’s a good thing I have lots of help. Donna Flatman from the Salmon Arm Recreation Society, as well as Aly Vann and Aaron Alcott work year-round to help organize the derby.

Then there are all the prizes to be picked out – that part is always fun.

I think I’ll keep that task for myself.