Even at six o’clock in the morning, you could feel a sense of excitement in the air. The sky was blue, the air cool and crisp and you could just tell it was going to be a good day.
At first they came in small groups of two or three, then more and more until there was a steady stream. All in all, several hundred young anglers and their families made their way to the end of the wharf for the start of the 22nd Annual Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby held this past Sunday in conjunction with Family Fishing Weekend.
Within 10 minutes of the official 7 a.m. start of the derby, perennial winner Coen Koppel caught and landed the first fish. Koppel received a ‘keeper’ trophy 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. Midway through the derby when it looked as though young Koppel, who last year established a record of 17 fish in the Most Fish category, was again going to be the winner in the Most Fish category, and was a contender for largest fish, but he decided that he would give his other prizes so that others could win. I think that says a lot about young Mr. Koppel. He is a fine angler and a true sportsman.
In the end Alex Smolne took first place in the Most Fish category. He won a rod and reel outfit and a one-year pass to the SASCU Recreation Centre swimming pool. Addison Shane took second place and Jet Huber third in the category. They both received keeper trophies and rod and reel outfits.
An excited Chale Sawatzky hooked into and landed a whopper pikeminnow that would 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. He also received a rod and reel outfit, and will get to take his whole family on an all-expenses paid weekend fishing trip which includes accommodations, boat and motor and groceries from Askew’s Foods. Not bad for one coarse fish. Cadence Tulak, another perennial winner, took secondplace honours, while Sydney Wallbaum placed third. Both received keeper trophies and rod and reel outfits. Jacob Kock, who shared his bait and helped other anglers around him catch fish, was the recipient of the CUPE Sportsmanship Award and received a rod and reel outfit for his efforts. Volunteer Christian Johnson was awarded the Outstanding Role Model Award and received a rod and reel for all his hard work. Tyson Campbell and Arya Faltin caught fish closest to a predetermined secret hidden weight and each received a brand new shiny bike and helmet from Skookum Cycle and Ski. Two adults who took the time and made the effort to bring kids to the derby won Family Appreciation prizes sponsored by Ian Gray Salmon Arm GM.
Rotarian Fred Goodman, who has volunteered to help out at the Kids’ Fishing Derby since its beginning 22 years ago, was recognized for his dedication to both the derby and the community by derby organizer in front of his peers at the June 19 Rotary meeting. Goodman and his family will get to spend a half-day on board 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.
Even after all these years I still get every bit as excited as the kids do, come derby morning. I too feel anticipation. I can’t wait for the first fish to be caught and can only 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 catch is a contender for the largest or the most or any of the other 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 every one else who takes part in the derby whether volunteering, bringing kids or just coming out to cheers the kids on, there is the reward of simply being a part of a worthwhile family event. I know for myself that is what continues to make it all worthwhile.