The Alberni Valley Tyee Club (AVTC) just wrapped up their 2020 Ladder Board Derby which ran from Father’s Day to early September.
What is a Ladder Board Fishing Derby?
The event takes place over a defined period of time—monthly, seasonally, or even yearly. Participants can weigh in their catches throughout the course of the event on the honour system however, potential major prize winners need at least fish weight verification. Most Ladder Board systems award prizes on a monthly basis with the bigger awards going to the overall event winners.
Alberni Valley Tyee Club History
The club started in 1932 (read our historical article here) and will soon enter its tenth decade of operation.
Its origins came from Port Alberni business leaders who recognized that the waters of Alberni Inlet offered great fishing and that by promoting sport angling, the community would benefit economically. The original clubhouse was located at the foot of Argyle Street. In 1964, after the Alaska earthquake and tsunami, it relocated to Clutesi Haven Marina. Club membership was open to anyone for a modest fee and membership entitled anglers to enter fish on the club’s ladder board, and to vie for prizes as well including coveted collector pins for fish over 30, 40, 50, and 60 pounds. Claiming the title for the biggest Chinook salmon was the year’s highlight, and serious bragging rights for the winner.
In 1949 the AVTC opened membership to juniors, and that tradition continues.
The club prospered until the 1990’s when fishing regulation changes began to interfere with the club’s ability to plan effectively. By 2015 the volunteers decided that they couldn’t function because of the Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) unpredictable regulation decisions, and the club shut down.
According the current vice-president, Curtis Leyenaar, “In 2017 a group of committed individuals asked themselves this question: Why aren’t we still running the Tyee Club? The answer was there was no reason why they shouldn’t. So plans went into effect to revitalize it based on honoring the values of the past with a modern fishing spin“. The goals of getting folks fishing and promoting Alberni had not changed over the decades. So with a new fee structure, steady leadership from President Carolyn Jasken, and the support of local individuals and businesses, the club was quickly reborn. Membership now stands at over 300.
Fast forward to the 2020 Ladder Board year—in Curtis Leyenaar’s words, “Salmon fishing in Barkley Sound and Alberni Inlet [this year] was epic at times, with lots of action right after the BC Day holiday, building to a peak between mid-August and Labour Day. Hoochies were hot early but then preferences switched to bait.” Curtis pointed out that, “The fish seemed bigger earlier in the Chinook run with the size dropping off during the late season Chinook returns”.
The 2020 Ladder Board winner was Morgan Steed with a 31.8 pounder from Whittlestone Pt; Larry Zimmerman took second with a 28 pounder from Franklin River and Doug Van Vliet captured third with a 27.8 pound fish from Brady’s Beach.