Port Alberni native Ray Ursel took home the top prize at the 2014 Salmon Fest this past weekend with a 37.7lb chinook.
“He fought good, made a good run right at the beginning, had a good netting job on my partner there and fought him for about 20 minutes,” Ursel said.
The 37.7-pounder was the third fish that he caught during the festival but it proved to be the best, standing its ground for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.He caught the fish out at Whittlestone, just south of Bamfield with a Rhys Davis Teaser Head lure using anchovies for bait. At 37.7 lbs, his catch was over 20 lbs better than 2013 winner Sterling Robinson’s 17.1 lb coho at that year’s coho-only derby and he’ll walk away with an increased prize of $15,000 to show for it. Ursel will split it three ways between himself and his fishing partners Brent Rose and Bob McVie.
While the 37.7 lb winner meant that Port Alberni Salmon Festival Society president Dan Washington didn’t get the 43-pounder he was hoping for to celebrate the 43rd annual event, he was still pleased with the turnout; 2014 had roughly 2,000 entries, about twice what it was in 2013 and an average fish weight of 11.5 lbs, almost double that of 2013 when the average was 6.87 lbs. The total number of fish was lower this year however, with 1346 compared to 2013’s 1364.
Ursel was Saturday’s first place winner, followed by Dennis Granneman with 27 lbs in second and 2009 derby winner Cory Jones at 26.9 lbs in third.
Sunday’s winners were Leon Joseph Kossaber in first place at 25.9 lbs, Henry Clement in second also at 25.9lbs due to weighing in second and Wayne Salikin in third place. Monday’s winners were Bill Goorts in first place at 34 lbs, Dale Dame at 24.3 lbs and Sue Hale in third at 22.9 lbs. The Gary Rooke Memorial Award for the largest hatchery salmon went to Sally Watson, who brought in her 22.8-pounder on Sunday. Watson told festival goers that this was her first derby and “it was freaking awesome” and that she’d be back in 2015.
The Egon Matheson Memorial Award for volunteer of the weekend went to Hugh Love.