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
To our surprise derby anglers landed seven steelhead from the Chilliwack
river anyway. The result wasnít all that bad considering the weather and
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
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
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
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
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
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.