Column: Fishing Derby a family favourite on Father’s Day

Great Outdoors/James Murray

There has always been a sense of anticipation that sweeps over me starting the night before a fishing trip.

I remember as a kid I couldn’t wait for morning to come. I would be up, dressed and all ready to go before my father’s alarm clock had even gone off. I could barely handle the wait while he prepared our lunches and loaded the old Coleman cooler and all the fishing rods into the trunk of the car. By the time we were finally heading off, I was already imagining all the fish we would catch.

Quite simply, I’ve always enjoyed fishing. As a kid I especially enjoyed going fishing with my father and brothers. Some of my fondest memories are of those fishing trips we went on together. The thing is less and less families seem to be spending that sort of time together – just being together as a family. I guess that’s the way things are nowadays. Parents are busy working, trying to provide the material things in life for their families and kids, while the kids are off doing things with their friends. What ever happened to doing things together as a family?

Maybe it’s up to us as a community to help create more opportunities for families to spend more time together.

Read more: Salmon Arm Fishing Derby draws many young enthusiastic anglers

Read more: 2012 – 16th Annual Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby

For the past 23 years the Annual Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby, which is held in conjunction with Family Fishing Weekend (June 14 to 16) and takes place this coming Sunday on Father’s Day down at the end of the Salmon Arm wharf at Marine Park has brought quite a few families together. Each year hundreds of young anglers and their families have gotten up early in the morning (registration starts at 6 a.m., the derby at 7) and made their way down to the end of the wharf to spend time together fishing, talking and just being a family together.

I know this much for sure, a lot of young anglers have walked away from the derby, if not with a prize or trophy in hand, at least with some fond memories of the time they spent together with their family.

I was lucky that my father was willing to share his time with us kids. He was always willing to take my brothers and I, as well as any of our friends who wanted to come along. My father rarely got a chance to cast a line though. He was always too busy rigging up our gear, freeing snags, tying on new hooks and making sure we didn’t fall into the water. Like I said, I am lucky that I have some very fond memories of our fishing trips together.

Which brings me to the subject of the BC Family Fishing Weekend.

Read more: 2017 – Blind fishing derby this weekend in Kelowna

Read more: 2014 – 18th Annual Kids’ Fishing Derby in Salmon Arm

Back in 2002, following a significant decline in freshwater sport fishing licence sales, the BC Family Fishing Weekend program was devised to help rebuild angler demographics. Now overseen by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, a board of directors from the angling community and assisted by representatives from both provincial and federal government agencies, the program is a huge success. Each year an estimated 25,000 people make use of the province’s three-day free freshwater fishing licence opportunity while trying their hand at angling. Each year the program also helps coordinate dozens of special community fishing events that attract over ten thousand B.C. residents. Other programs such as the Fishing Buddies Program, Learn to Fish, Fishing in the City and the Angling Ambassador Program, all sponsored by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia, are in my humble opinion, also worthwhile programs where experienced anglers can pass on their knowledge and expertise to younger kids who want to go fishing. Established in partnerships between the FFSBC, the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) and member clubs, these programs provides families, who may or may not have spent much time fishing, an opportunity to connect with someone who is willing to share what they know.

For more information on these and other programs go on line to gofishbc.com.

Organizations such as the Freshwater Fisheries Society of British Columbia, programs like Family Fishing Weekend, the Fishing Buddies Program, Learn to Fish, Fishing in the City and the Angling Ambassador Program, and events like the Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby are all a part of the fishing ‘community’ and are working to encourage more families to head out on the waters to enjoy fishing.

Hopefully this younger generation will in time have some fond memories of their own to look back on fishing with their families.

James Murray is a former Salmon Arm Observer photographer and long-time columnist for the Shuswap Market News.

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