If you’re an Island Fisherman reader, then you know that we raise money for our local fish hatcheries through our Sons of Salmon (SOS) program. Our online store stocks hoodies, t-shirts, and other branded gear, and we donate all the profits to hatcheries.
We also have corporate sponsors that contribute directly (don’t be shy if you’d like to offer your support and be a sponsor, the fish, and hatchery workers who donate their time, will thank you).
In the fall, we ask the managers of hatcheries wishing to win a portion of the funds to write in and tells us about their work and how they would use the money. In 2020, 12 hatcheries applied, and the three best applications split the pot of almost $15,000. What’s become even more interesting are the ways that people like Robert Van Pelt are inventing ways to help.
If you fish the island, you likely know or at least heard of Van Pelt.
He’s done everything from guiding, tackle and bait distribution, and pouring lead to making lures (currently under his Haida Lure brand), consulting, and minding the Parksville Pacific Net & Twine store. When I told Rob in 2019 that we were going to raise money for the hatcheries, he was one of the first people to offer $1,000 out of his own pocket—without hesitation. This year, Rob is doing something with his social media group, FISH ARMY Fishing Club, and has a plan to generate more funds for the cause. He told me he is starting a derby that would run for the entire month of August.
IFM: Rob, derbies are pretty tough, pandemic or not. What’s the plan?
Rob: We are doing something completely different. It’s called the “Wacky Inflatable Fishing Derby,” open to our FISH ARMY Club members across Canada during August 2021. It’s semi-virtual, and it’s open to freshwater and ocean anglers. Times have been trying—if the pandemic hasn’t been enough, the state of fishing opportunities has been incredibly frustrating. We figured we’d do something that makes people smile and laugh, in the same spirit as the Silly Boat Festival that has raised so much money for the Nanaimo Child Development Center for 36 years. Our cause is the hatcheries, and we’ll donate it all to your Sons of Salmon program. Our goal is to exceed $10,000.
IFM: That’s an amazing contribution of time and energy, Rob! How does it work?
Rob: Join our FISH ARMY Fishing Club Facebook group for free. The derby entry fee is actually a $50 donation, 100% of which goes to the support of the Vancouver Island Hatcheries, via SOS. Donations will entitle participants anywhere in Canada (freshwater or saltwater) to a chance for the random draws and giveaways, whether they fish or not. In addition to that, we’ll have random draws for those sending in photos or videos of fish catches, as well as for those with the “wackiest” costume or fishing vessel. We have all the juicy details on our site, including safety and conduct guidelines (i.e. COVID-19), and rules.
IFM: How is it shaping up?
Rob: People love the idea! FISH ARMY has a growing list of sponsors kicking in all kinds of great prizes (check the group site for most current list).
IFM: That’s a really unique derby! People everywhere will appreciate this, and we thank you for helping out SOS. And I’m sure the fish will be thanking you as well.
Rob: The thanks also go to Tyler Kaye, FISH ARMY Vice President, as well as Gil d’Oliveira, Club Secretary, who are donating a lot of time to (as our motto goes) “All things fish, fishy, fishing!”
This article appeared in Island Fisherman Magazine. Never miss another issue—subscribe today!