Salmon derby this Saturday in Sidney

The Sidney Anglers Association hosts their fifth Sidney Salmon Derby this weekend.

The Sidney Anglers Association hosts their fifth Sidney Salmon Derby this weekend.

Grant MacPherson with the Sidney Anglers says the event is growing and they expect fishermen from across Vancouver Island, the mainland and the United States will be in the waters around Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula.

MacPherson said his organization took on the derby five years ago after it had gone on hiatus for a year. For the previous 15 years, the event was held by the staff of the Port of Sidney Marina. It began as an in-house employee event and was eventually opened up to the public. Keeping it going meant a lot of volunteer time and when that commitment waned, the event was shelved for a short time. That’s when the Sidney Anglers stepped up.

“For me doing so meant we had to include an environmental component,” he said. “We decided to use the derby as one way of gathering reliable information on the fish stocks out there.”

The one-day salmon derby, still based at the Port of Sidney Marina, has anglers bring in their catch to be weighed (the derby record is 32 pounds, caught last year off Pender Island by a U.S. fisherman, MacPherson said).

At that time, a DNA sample is taken from each fish, to be analyzed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. MacPherson said the Sidney Anglers are working with the DFO to gather information on salmon stocks and how they move along the coast. The derby, he added, has raised more than $57,000 for salmon enhancement work.

The Salmon Derby itself, which runs Saturday, May 2, welcomes anyone of any age. It averages between 30 and 50 fish caught in one day — all legal fish of at least 24.5 inches (62 cm).

Catch any fish, a winner in the weigh-in or not, and you can win a prize, MacPherson added.

“We have a lot of sponsors on board this year and if you catch a fish, period, you win a prize.

“But you really have to know what you are doing around the Sidney area if you want to catch anything. Local knowledge is king.”

First prize this year is $7,500 and a total of $15,000 is up for grabs among the top nine anglers.

Derby check in starts at noon on Friday, May 1 at the Mary Winspear Centre. Fishing begins at first light Saturday and weigh-in ends at 4 p.m. For more information, visit sidneyanglers.ca.