Boxing Day Steelhead Derby
Steelheader News
  The night before the Boxing day Steelhead Derby mother nature decided to cry and she soaked the Valley. It rained so hard we thought the derby would be cancelled.
  To our surprise derby anglers landed seven steelhead from the Chilliwack river anyway. The result wasnít all that bad considering the weather and conditions.
  At the clubhouse final call for weigh-in was 2pm. By about 12:30pm you could feel the tension building from anticipation of that final moment when, like every year since circa 1913, some luck son of a gun takes the title "Kingfisher."
 This year 12:30 was the finale as no other fish limped in to hang with the other 6 celebrity steelhead on the clubhouse wall. By the time you counted all the digital, compact and 35mm cameras shooting the action those not familiar with this event would think they were in Hollywood Ė or Hollywood North?
  367steelheaders entered the derby this year and anglers caught 7 steelhead. The largest steelheader weighed in at 12.58lbs caught by Randy Kendrick, Abbotsford, BC.
  The finalist read as: Biggest Fish, Randy Kendrick, 12.58 lbs; First Fish, Leaman Bourgaize, 12.06 lbs; 2nd Biggest Fish, David MacLoed, 12.30 lbs; 3rd Biggest Fish, Daryl Imanse, 11.74 lbs; 4th Biggest Fish, Tim Thornton, 11.52 lbs; 5th Biggest Fish, Richard Arita, 9.36 lbs; Smallest Fish, Matt Moore, 5.44 lbs.
  The Canadian seven, as it were, hung on the side of the clubhouse wall for all to view. Not a bad destiny actually. Theyíll hang in this publication as well and in the local museum for all those future generations to witness as well.
  I quess weíd all hope that future generations realize that this traditional event wasnít about the biggest catch-and-kill that day; but, instead remember a cheerful event celebrating our angling and hunting heritage.
  When reminded that these derby steelhead are hatchery bred then we can truly understand this tradition.
  Conversely, wild steelhead are protected by law here in BC and must be released with the utmost care by steelhead anglers. During my readings I heard mention that biologists recommend hatchery steelhead be killed so that their gene pool doesnít contaminate wild steelhead genetic coding.
  That day like so many Boxing Day derbies in the past was busy. Suddenly the alarm went off and we focused on the derby again. Kevin Enright, the derby coordinator, announced the derby end at 1:55pm. Within minutes Kenrickís 12.58 pound doe took the title.
  If you really want to know the truth though, the actual winning fish in the derby was disqualified because the angler didnít mark the catch on his tag. Oops - now thatís a blooper if I ever heard one.
  367 steelheaders and 7 steelhead. Thatís one steelhead for every 52.4 anglers. We hope those guys realize how lucky they are especially when there are people who never catch one steelhead in a lifetime.
  CFGPA president Clive Edwards said that $2500 of the derby ticket money will go to CRAC (Chilliwack River Action Committee). Administrator for CRAC Dave Lamson says heís received confirmation of this donation but that CRAC will need a lot more money to get started. Lamson says they are in the process of applying for funds from the Provincial Government. He says they need $100,000 to get started and that $300,000 would take them well into the stabilization of Tolmie Slide. Lamson says the big cedar trees are missing from the riparian Zone along the river. In the natural order of things the Cedars fall into the river providing large woody debris. The fallen Cedars could shield the claybanks for decades. Moneys donated by the club and derby will go toward establishing a man-made solution similar to that provided by natures fallen cedars.
  Clive Edwards stressed that the Boxing Day event is meant to be an enjoyable social. As well, trap shooters enjoyed the day. The range behind the clubhouse bustled with activity during the turkey shoot. Winning shooters took meat hampers donated by Johnson Packers. Some sportsmen took cash in lieu of the meat hamper.
  The club also provides 6 bursaries to candidates: high schools, nontraditional alternative schools, home school candidates and to private schools.
  Edwards says the annual rodeo will occur again this year in July or August. Kids will have an opportunity to try the rope so to speak. They can be introduced to archery, black powder guns, center fire guns, center fire rifles and trap shooting.
  This year the CFGPA will host the BCWF dinner. The Fish & Foul Hog Banquet happens April 10, 11, 12. Tickets are available from the BCWF toll Free Number: 1 800 533 2293. The event will take place at Heritage Hall at Lickman and No. 1 Highway with events occurring at the CFGPA Club house and Rhombus Hotels and Resorts downtown Chilliwack.
  Clive Edwards message to aspiring outdoor folks is that fishing and hunting are great activities that take you out in nature. He says, " itís wonderful in the wilderness and you only have to appreciate the scenery." Edwards says The Chilliwack Fish and Game Protective Association has approximately 400 members mainly from the Abbotsford and Chilliwack areas.
  Tim Thornton is from Chilliwack. Thornton caught the fourth largest fish and probably the prettiest fish as well. Thornton has been fishing for steelhead since the 1960's and Barry Thornton, the steelheading author from Vancouver Island, is Timís first cousin. "I enjoyed the derby but it isnít as good as it used to be," said Thornton. "There arenít as many prizes as there used to be. There were 4 or 5 good prizes and the rest were not that good in my opinion." Thornton said there should be better prizes for those anglers catching steelhead and not so many draw prizes. He felt it took skill to bring a steelhead to the scales and that those individuals should be rewarded accordingly.
  Darryl Imanse, also from Chilliwack, says he got the jinx off his back after going fishless for 10 years worth of derbies. He nailed the 3rd largest fish using procured roe unlike Thorntonís steelhead caught with a wool-tie. Imanse says there is too much priority placed on first fish. The first fish shouldnít be in front of the top five fish said Imanse; priority should strictly be for the first five fish, after all the first fish could be only a five pounder says Imanse.
  The derby was slow this year in numbers of fish but Imanse said that he had participated in gathering brood stock for this years run and that they caught that brood stock later in the year.
  Imanse also felt the derby should be limited to 200 entries and that the current situation is too competitive. Locals donít want to participate in the derby anymore -- the derby use to consist mainly of local anglers said Imanse. Margaret Imanse has fished the last seven Boxing Day derbies with her husband. She would like to see a woman win the derby.
  Earnie McDuff who has been around for a while at the CFGPA derbies said the years seem to be fluctuating in catches. We had a few lean years, the last two years were great and now we have a lean year again. "Thereís no consistency with the number of fish returning," said McDuff.
  Chilliwack veteran Junior Marks has a comment on steelhead derbies in general. "Iíve go nothing to prove to anybody," says Marks. Regardless of whether these fish are hatchery bred or not Marks says there arenít enough of them. Have your derbies for the fish that die like coho and chinook Ė these fish donít return to the sea says Junior Marks. The steelhead returns to the ocean Ė I have nothing to prove by killing one to put in a derby or to satisfy some ego says Marks.
Copyright 2003 The Steelheader.

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