A Port Alberni man has won the Labour Day Salmon Derby for the second time.
Dan Sexton was named the overall winner on Monday, Sept. 4 with his 23-pound, 14-ounce salmon caught at Pill Point on Sunday, using anchovy for bait. He and his fishing partners were fishing in shallow waters when the fish bit.
“I knew it was a good one right off the bat,” said Sexton. “I said, ‘Boys, this fish is going to wake up pretty soon.’ And then it just took off.”
They managed to reel it in, and Sexton knew right away that it was a potential winner.
“The fish are a lot smaller than they used to be,” he admitted. “Back in the day, we used to release these fish, and now they’re derby winners.”
This is the second time Sexton has won the derby. His first win was back in 1998 with a 43.7-pounder. He has been fishing every year since the mid-90s and fishes purely for the love of the sport—although the $10,000 prize is an added perk.
He and his fishing partners will be sharing the winnings.
“Sometimes you get lucky,” he said. “We were really fortunate, there were a lot of very good fishers this year.”
Carolyn Jasken, of the Alberni Valley Tyee Club, says the club will be regrouping to decide what they will do for next year’s derby. This is the third year the club has organized the derby, and although there was no official “Salmon Festival” to accompany the derby, some Harbour Quay merchants offered a few salmon-related specials and activities over the weekend.
And the fishing was still popular, as always.
“There were lots of fish being caught, despite the small weights,” Jasken said.
One of the most exciting moments of the derby was on Monday afternoon, when Jasken got a phone call from the Bamfield weigh station warning her that a 22-pounder had been caught. The official weigh station at Harbour Quay closed at 3 p.m. on Monday, so Steve Smith had to rush back to Port Alberni to be declared the winner, with four minutes to spare.
“We didn’t think he was going to make it,” said Jasken. “He showed up at 2:56. It was a lot of excitement.”
Full list of winners:
1. Dave Thibeau (23 pounds, 4 ounces)
2. Brayden Taekema (21 pounds, 4 ounces)
3. Alain Bernhard (21 pounds, 4 ounces)
1. Dan Sexton (23 pounds, 14 ounce)
2. Tyler Wilson (23 pound, 8 ounces)
3. Kai Gotzke (22 pounds, 2 ounces)
1. Steve Smith (22 pounds, 4 ounces)
2. Duane Nookemis (21 pounds, 10 ounces)
3. Russell Sanderson (21 pounds, 4 ounces)
Rotary Club 50/50 Draw: Laurie Wiley