A Chilliwack fisherman reeled in a big one to win the top prize at Port Alberni Salmon Fest this weekend.
Dan Weatherby pulled in the 24.1 kilogram (53.2 pounds) fish on Saturday. It’s the 4th largest salmon ever caught at the 45th annual fishing derby. It’s also the largest since 1991 earning Weathby the first prize of $5000.
The large Chinnok came despite many fishers saying it was a year of fewer bites and generally smaller fish.
“I thought with the amount of fish being caught it was going to be a small derby winner,” says Calgary fisherman Dale Dame. “I was really shocked when I heard 53 pounds. That’s a tough one to beat.”
Despite reeling a 7.3 kilogram (16.1 pound) chinook on Sunday Port Alberni fisher Walter Kempton says the fish didn’t compare to past years.
“Most of them are junky compared to the way this derby’s gone for, you know, it’s whole lifetime.”
Fisheries and Oceans Canada was predicting a healthy Chinook run this year but with lower than expected returns a commercial fishery is on hold.
“I would like them to hold off just purely for the conservation purposes,” says Tyee Club president and Salmon Fest organizer Chris Wynans. “The most important thing for us is the conservation of the fish and i don’t think we have enough fish yet to warrant that opening.”
Organizers say this years Salmon Fest has been a success with 1,700 people entered in the competition from as far away as Texas. Many others, from as far away as Europe took in the festivities, such as live bands and barbecued salmon.
“It just drives the economy so much, in the valley, that sport fishing piece of the pie,” says Wynans.