Island Outfitters held their 24th Annual Just for the Halibut Derby this past weekend, May 27 and 28, 2023. 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 northwest United States. Since the last derby was held in 2019 with none held in the “covid years”, there was great excitement about the upcoming event.
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 accurately forecast in advance and this year the weather gods did not smile on us on Saturday. Very strong winds dissuaded a lot of anglers from fishing. That said, 36 halibut were caught and entered in the derby on Saturday. Fortunately, Sunday was a little calmer and 35 halibut went onto the scale during the shorter fishing time.
The winner of the derby, and $7,500 in one hundred-dollar bills, was Gavin Robertson who landed a 56.9 lb. halibut in Oak Bay. Even though it was inches short of the maximum size limit it was a very thick bodied halibut. The fish was caught near Oak Bay!
Second place, and $2,500 in one hundred-dollar bills, went to Ernest Stuart with a 56.1 lb halibut.
Third place went to Mike Pottle who caught a 51.5 lb halibut. Tom took home $1,000 in one hundred-dollar bills as his prize.
Besides the prizes for top 10 largest halibut, there were 20 draw prizes and two hidden weigh prizes. Len Geddes won the top hidden weight prize of a Polar Bear Wall Tent. Shane Hansen won a $500 gift cards to Island Outfitters as his hidden weight prize. There was also a prize for the angler catching the halibut weighing closest to the average weight of fish. That Prize was a two-night stay at the Osprey Cabins in Port Renfrew and was won by Daylin Salter.
This year the Island Outfitters halibut derby sold 296 tickets. This was just 12 under the last derby’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 derby in a row! That resulted in some anglers not wanting to be out on the water. 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”. To learn more about the fund visit http://tlcfund.ca/. A further donation is earmarked for the South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition to help support their efforts on behalf of recreational salmon angling in BC.