Island Outfitters held their 23rd Annual Just for the Halibut derby, April 27th & 28th. This derby kicks off the start of the fishing season for many southern Vancouver Island anglers, and annually draws participants from several western Canadian provinces and the north west United States. And with an increase in the maximum size of halibut retention to 126 cm this year, anticipation was building.
The weekend of the derby is carefully picked to give the anglers good tides and currents to pursue the big flatfish. Unfortunately, the weather cannot be picked in advance and this year the weather gods did not smile on us. Forecasts of very high winds dissuaded a lot of anglers from fishing on Saturday. That said, fourteen halibut were caught and entered in the derby. Fortunately, Sunday was a little calmer and 33 halibut went onto the scale.
The winner of the derby, and $7,500 in one hundred-dollar bills, was Kael Campbell who landed a 61.1 lb. halibut in Oak Bay. Even though it was several inches short of the maximum size limit it was a very thick bodied halibut. The fish was caught near Discovery Island in Oak Bay! Second place, and $2,500 in one hundred-dollar bills, went to Mike Bastone with a 57.4 lb halibut. Mike was fishing in the Race Rocks area.
Third place went to Tom Berrett who caught a 51.4 lb halibut in the East Race area. Tom took home $1,000 in one hundred-dollar bills as his prize. Tom’s fish was the longest halibut entered in the derby and just made it within the 126 cm maximum size limit. Each of the top three anglers also received a specially engraved money clip to commemorate the derby and to hold their winnings.
For those anglers ‘unfortunate’ enough to catch and release a large halibut, Island Outfitters had draw prizes for anglers who submit a picture of catch of the gigantic fish in the water with a special item given out on Friday evening to be included in the picture. This year’s special item was the Halibut derby hat given to all ticket holders. The top draw prize for this year went to Mike Koff, a past derby winner.
Besides the prizes for top 24 largest halibut, there are 24 draw prizes and three hidden weigh prizes. Mike Arsenault won the top hidden weight prize of a Yamaha Pressure Washer from SG Power. Pat Thompson and Nathan Donaldson each won $1,000 gift cards at Island Outfitters, as their hidden weight prize.
This year the Island Outfitters halibut derby sold 308 tickets. This was just under last year’s total. Normally, most tickets are sold during the days before the derby and this year the weather predictions for the start were not good for the second year in a row! That resulted in some anglers not wanting to be out on the water. On a day when ferries are cancelled you know that not many anglers want to be anchored in that type of weather. That said, there were a few places where anglers could get out of the worst weather and wet a line. These areas included waters near Oak Bay and the East Race. And as is often the case, first day anglers brought in what turned out to be the top three fish.
The Island Outfitter’s derby each year donates proceeds from the derby to a children’s fund. This years’ proceeds will once again be going to the TLC Fund, an initiative of 100.3 the Q! and the Zone @ 91-3 ….” because every kid can use a little T.L.C”. This years’ donation was $1,850 and the cumulative donation total to the children’s fund now stands in excess of $46,000. To learn more about the fund visit the web page at http://tlcfund.ca/ . A further $500 was earmarked for the Pacific Salmon Foundation to help support recreational salmon angling in BC.
To view pictures of all fish caught in the derby, along with other images, visit Island Outfitters’ Facebook page.