Mace Desilets helps his daughter Ellie drop her line into Salmon Arm Bay during last year’s Kids fishing derby. (File photo)

Preparations underway for annual Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby

Great Outdoors by James Murray

The other day I received an email from the Family Fishing Society of BC reminding me this year’s Family Fishing Weekend, June 14 to 16, is only a couple of months away.

At first I didn’t give it much thought. After all, two months is still quite a ways away. Then it sort of hit me how two months can go by in a flash – especially when you’re trying to get everything ready and organized for the upcoming 23rd Annual Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby, being held on Sunday, June 16 at the end of the Salmon Arm wharf.

“Two months – how did 23 years go by so fast?”

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

Read more: Kids net fish, prizes

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. Incorporated as a non-profit society in 2002, the Family Fishing Society of B.C. 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 B.C.’s many world-class sport fishing opportunities. The society’s programs are targeted toward families and young people. This year an estimated 25,000 people will make use of the province’s three-day free freshwater fishing licence to try their hand at angling.

It would be an understatement to say the program has been a success. Family Fishing Weekend is an especially popular annual program designed to develop new anglers. Its goal is to help encourage British Columbians, especially young people, to go fishing and have fun with their family and friends.

As in past years, the Family Fishing Society of BC helps co-ordinate dozens of special community fishing events that attract well over 10,000 people. The Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby, which alone attracts an estimated 600 to 800 people down to the wharf on Father’s Day, is one such event. The derby is open to all children 12 years of age and under, and there is no cost to enter the derby. The only restrictions are that participants must wear a lifejacket or PFD, be accompanied by an adult and be willing to have fun.

The Family Fishing Weekend Society not only provides rods and reels and other prizes for participants at various derbies and Family Fishing Weekend events, but also offers advice and direction which has helped these derbies and events grow bigger and better each year. In recognition of its efforts, the Family Fishing Society of BC was awarded the National Recreational Fisheries Award from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I cannot say enough about how much they have done for sport fishing in this province and the Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby in particular.

One thing I do know for sure is that 5 a.m. Sunday morning, June 16 will be here before we know it, and we still have a lot of work to get everything ready for the derby.

Twenty-three years – wow. A lot of kids have had a lot of fun fishing off the end of the wharf every year at the derby. Some have won prizes. Some have walked away at the end of the morning with some pretty good memories. I have watched some of those kids grow up. Some now come to the derby with their young children in tow. It feels good to be a part of something that is worthwhile.

Read more: Column: Capture an image instead of a fish

Read more: Carp a big contender at fishing derby

The Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby continues to be one of the most popular events held in the Shuswap. And none of it could happen without all the local businesses and organizations which support the derby, as well as the volunteers who give their time to help out – especially the members of the Rotary Clubs of Salmon Arm, The Elks, The Royal Canadian Legion and CUPE.

Then there’s derby co-ordinators, Salmon Arm Recreation program co-ordinator Donna Flatman and Aly Vann, who put so much effort and time year round. What can I say about them other than, they are as integral to the success of the derby as the fish who are willing to bite.


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