Jeff Addison of Nanaimo is $15,000 richer today after catching the biggest fish at the 46th annual Port Alberni Salmon Festival fishing derby.
Addison waited a long 48 hours to find out if his 34.5-pound salmon, caught Saturday morning, would turn out to be the winner.
“We caught it at Swale Rock out of Bamfield at 11:25 a.m. Saturday,” Addison said. He fought it for “about half an hour” and nearly lost it from the net before his father Chuck dragged it into the boat.
“As soon as we got it in (the boat) we were discussing whether we should run to Port or take it into Poett Nook so we took it into Poett Nook and weighed it, then booted it here (Tyee Landing) as quickly as we could and weighed it.
“It’s the biggest fish I’ve caught since I was a teenager probably,” Addison said. His lure of choice was a purple haze hoochie.
The Addison family is no stranger to the waters of the Alberni Inlet. “We have a cabin in Bamfield so I’m a regular,” he said. “We fish quite a bit.”
He was out on the boat with his daughter Sophie, father Chuck and friend Shauna. They brought in a total of five or six fish including a couple of coho and springs, he added.
This is the second year in a row that a salmon caught on Saturday turned out to be the winner.
Chris Standish of Elkford squeaked into second place with two minutes to spare Sunday night. He caught his 32.4-pound salmon off China Creek and went into China Creek to have it weighed. At about 8:20 p.m. “they said to run into Port,” Standish said. “We didn’t really know where the (Tyee) pier was. They had told us to go where the fuel dock was. We were fumbling around a little but we found it in time, with a couple of minutes to spare.”
He topped the leaderboard for Sunday and held onto second place overall.
Standish was fishing with his son Graham of Chestermere, outside of Calgary.
“It’s probably our fourth time in the derby, but we’ve been fishing in the area since the 1990s,” Chris Standish said.
Ian Thomas won the Egon Matheson Memorial trophy for volunteer of the year.
Temperatures this weekend reached a high on Monday of 35 degrees Celsius, and one festival goer said it was the hottest derby weekend since 1988.
This is the first year in the 46-year history of the Port Alberni Salmon Festival that it has been held elsewhere from Clutesi Haven Marina. Tyee Landing was announced after last year’s derby as the new location, and volunteers scrambled to change the footprint of a festival they have run the same way for decades.
Festival president Dan Washington said the fest wasn’t without its challenges: five days away from the derby the committee was worried it didn’t have enough volunteers, but a plea put out on social media worked, and they had enough hands.
“As far as Tyee Landing goes, for every 300 people I talked to I had one bad comment to 299 good ones. I think we’re going to stay here,” he said.
1–Justin Kumagai, Port Alberni (29.3 lbs)
2–Darren Simpson, Port Alberni (27.6 lbs)
3–Brian Greenaway, Nanaimo (26.8)
1–Chris Standish, Elkford (32.4 lbs)
2–Mike Marlatt, Maple Ridge (26.11 lbs)
3–Bryce Sparks, Campbell River ( 24.5 lbs)
1–Jeff Addison, Nanaimo (34.5 lbs)
2–Robin Hayes (28.2 lbs)
3–Reid Johnson, Kelowna (26.8 lbs)
Rotary Club ($10,000): Rabinder Dhillon
Alberni Valley Rescue Society ($1,000): Gary Prosnick
Alberni Valley Rescue Society ($400): Rick Tremblay
Kuu-us Crisis Line Society: 1st – Angie McKeen, Port Alberni; 2nd– Lorraine Labelle, Port Alberni; 3rd–Teresa Hartman, Victoria; 4th– Jen Johnson, Port Alberni; 5th– Gertrude (no last name given), Port Alberni; 6th– Denise O’Laney, Lillooet; 7th– B. Crossley (Port Alberni); 8th– Francis Sullivan.