2017’s winner, Morgan Steed, wearing the iconic “blue hat” only given to the first prize winner of the Sproat Loggers Derby. FACEBOOK PHOTO

Sproat Loggers Derby celebrating 30 years

Derby draws close to 500 participants from across Vancouver Island

The Sproat Loggers Winter-Spring Derby is celebrating its 30th anniversary at Poett Nook Marina this year—and organizers are celebrating with some substantial prizes.

The first Sproat Loggers Derby was originally held in 1988 as a kickoff to the fishing season, allowing avid fishers to follow the salmon run as it travels up the Alberni Inlet. It is held at Poett Nook Marina, near Sarita Bay.

Retired logger Don Deforest was one of the original organizers, and he explained that the derby has grown from a handful of participants to a large weekend event.

“The first year we had 45 people. Last year, we had 460,” said Deforest. “It’s leaped and bounded and grown.”

Although the derby has peaked out at close to that number for the last four or five years, drawing fishers from all over the island, organizers will still be limiting the tickets to 500.

“We had over 60 people just from Nanaimo last year,” said Deforest. “I think we should be really close to 500 this year.”

He added that the people who attend the derby usually come back, which is why it has grown so much over the past 30 years.

“It’s a friendly derby,” he said. “It started out with just a few guys. But it’s quite a family one now.”

Tickets are available at Gone Fishin’ (both the Alberni and Nanaimo locations), Port Boat House and Breakers Marine for $20.

This year, said Deforest, the prize for the largest catch will be “substantial.”

In conjuction with Port Boat House, the derby will be offering a 9.9 Yamaha outboard motor, estimated at just over $3000, for the first prize winner.

Second and third prize winners will also be receiving a prawn puller with traps and an Islander fishing reel, respectively. There will also be a significant number of prizes available through draws.

Participants have a chance to win tackleboxes, rods, reels, nets and other assorted draw prizes.

“We have a whole truckload,” said Deforest. “All the ticket prices go into prizes.”

Everything is purchased locally, and organizers will be drawing names until all the prizes are gone.

The 30th annual Sproat Loggers Derby takes place on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4. It ends at 12 o’clock sharp on Sunday.

Poett Nook Marina provides their campground for free, and moorage and boat launch will also be free of charge.

“We’ve had people sponsor [this] derby for 30 years,” Deforest reflected. “It’s amazing how many people have come and gone in that time.”

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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