Don Deforest

Sproat loggers hold annual derby

The Sproat Lake Loggers’ Winter-Spring Derby is held annually during the first week of March at Poett Nook Marina, down the Alberni Inlet.

When retired logger Don Deforest started the first Winter-Spring Derby 29 years ago, he had about 40 coworkers and friends attend. The following year it grew to 70 registrants and news quickly spread. Today, the annual fishing derby attracts more than 450 people from as far away as California.

Held each year during the first weekend in March, at Poett Nook Marina, down the Alberni Inlet, the Sproat Lake Loggers’ Winter-Spring Derby was launched so avid fishermen could take advantage of the salmon run in local waters.

“At the time, Sarita logging camp held a derby in June and I went to that,” Deforest said. “I wanted to do one for winter-spring. That’s when the herring come in and the salmon follow them so the fishing is good. I figured I’d put a little derby on.”

Poett Nook Marina owner at the time, Greg Salmon, took home the inaugural first prize of $300 and told Deforest the derby was a successful kickoff to the fishing season.

“It really jump starts the year there,” Deforest said. “It’s the first thing of the year so everyone gets their boats ready to get into the swing of fishing.”

With the majority of registrants from the Island or nearby, there are also many who travel from Alberta and beyond.

“There used to be a guy who drove night and day from California, fished all weekend, and drove back,” Deforest said.

The derby has turned from a handful of guys into a large family event. Originally attracting only a group of men, families started camping there for the weekend and bringing their children on the boats. Deforest said he has seen many local kids grow up over the years. The late Jake Leyenaar, who helped him with organizing the derby, was one of those fathers who introduced his sons to the waters.

“His boys were just little wee guys running around,” Deforest said. “They grew up there and have been coming back to fish.”

This year Curtis Leyenaar will be continuing the tradition by taking out his father’s boat.

“This derby is more sought after than the Salmon Derby,” Leyenaar said. “I go almost every year and have so many good memories.”

The memory of Jake will be honoured with a special award this year.

“It will be given to somebody who participates every year to help out with the derby,” Deforest said.

There are only 500 tickets printed and once sold out, there will be no more printed.

The registration fee is turned over to fund all of the numerous prizes. The top prize is a Yamaha Washer PW 3028 donated by Port Boat House. More information and tickets can be found there, at Gone Fishin’, Breaker’s Marine, and Poett Nook Marina.

It all takes place on March 4 and 5.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

67th year for Port Alberni’s men’s open bonspiel

Public is welcome to cheer on teams throughout the weekend

Alberni Valley residents vent anger over proposed Beaver Creek cannabis project

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District grapples with limited authority to restrict operations

Paper Excellence, owner of Crofton mill, hit by malware

Paper production in Crofton, and other mills, impacted by incident

B.C. NDP’s throne speech speaks of benefits to B.C., says MLA Scott Fraser

Fraser agrees to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs over pipeline

Port Alberni’s Old Puckers playing for BC Children’s Hospital

CFOX’s hockey team will make the long trek to central Vancouver Island for the game

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Most Read