The 22nd Annual Island Outfitters “Just for the Halibut” Derby this past weekend, April 21 & 22. This derby kicks off the fishing season for many southern Vancouver Island anglers, and annually draws participants from several Western Canadian provinces and the Northwest United States. The timing of the derby is carefully picked to give the anglers good tides and currents to pursue the big flatfish. The derby originally took place on Father’s Day weekend but was moved forward by popular demand. The Island Outfitters derby donates proceeds of the derby each year to a children’s fund. This year’s proceeds will be going to the TLC Fund, an initiative of 100.3 The Q! and the Zone @ 91-3 “because every kid needs a little T.L.C.” To learn more about the fund, visit http://tlcfund.ca/. Over the years, the derby donations have significantly helped various childrens’ groups.
This year, the derby sold 316 tickets, a much lower number than normal. Normally, the most tickets are sold during the week before the derby. This year, the weather predictions for the start were 35 knot winds with gusts to 45 knots, and not many anglers want to be anchored in that type of weather. The size reduction to a maximum of 115 cm also bothered a lot of anglers. In the years before the size reduction, Island Outfitters offered a $20,000 bonus prize for the first halibut over 200 lbs. In 2001, Ken Abt weighed in a 201 lb “barndoor” halibut and took home the bonus prize as well as the money for first place.
This year, the derby had its earliest start. The weather was miserable on Saturday, and only three halibut were caught and entered. Fortunately, Sunday was the complete opposite weather-wise, and 60 halibut went onto the scale. The winner of $7,500 was Al Motiuk who fished in Sooke and landed a 114.99 cm halibut that weighed 48.5 lbs. Second place and $2,500 went to Brandon Alexander for a 44.3 lb halibut. Brandon was fishing with Island Outfitters’ Guide Zane Hyrsko in the Mud Hole. Third place went to Bill Day, who caught a 42.9 lb halibut at Border Bank and took home $1,000. Each of the top three anglers also received a specially engraved money clip to commemorate the derby and to hold their winnings, which were given out in hundred dollar bills.
Besides the prizes for top 24 largest halibut, there were 24 draw prizes, two hidden weigh prizes, and an average weight prize. Those “unfortunate” enough to catch and release a large halibut were eligible for three draw prizes for anglers who submit a picture of catching the gigantic fish in the water, with a special item given out on Friday to be included in the picture. This year’s special item was a glow Gibbs Delta Island Outfitters Skinny G spoon.