Alex Smith hoists what turned out to be the winning chinook salmon in last year’s Juan de Fuca Fishing Tournament. The fish weighed in at 29.8 pounds. This year’s derby happens this Friday and Saturday (June 20-21).

It’ll be ‘fish on!’ around the Juan de Fuca strait

This year’s derby should boost Sooke River chinook salmon enhancement funds raised

Organizers of this weekend’s Juan de Fuca Fishing Tournament are expecting long lineups at the Pedder Bay weigh scales as the days grow short.

The South Vancouver Island Angler’s Coalition is hosting its annual rod-and-reel extravaganza Saturday and Sunday in the waters from Jordan River to Cadboro Point off Saanich.

Christopher Bos, coalition president, says many anglers fish until the last possible moment, hoping to land the big one and leave themselves enough time to either motor their way back to Metchosin via the Juan de Fuca Strait, or drive back, if they happened to be fishing on the opposite side of the strait.

“That’s the judgment call (anglers) have to make,” he says.

Weigh-ins happen from daylight until 5 p.m. tomorrow (June 20) and daylight until noon on Sunday. “At closing time on the Saturday, we usually have a lineup of about 40 guys,” Bos says. “It’s fun when you run the scale and you see all this.”

The number of tickets sold for this Sooke River Chinook Revitalization Initiative fundraiser is capped at 500, and it’s expected to sell out. At $200 per rod, the tickets aren’t cheap, but when one considers there’s upwards of $25,000 in cash offered for the biggest salmon, plus close to $90,000 in merchandise prizes up for grabs, the odds seem pretty good at winning something.

This weekend also marks Family Fishing Weekend across the province, timed perfectly for Father’s Day this Sunday.

Bos says last year’s derby netted close to $20,000 for the Sooke River project. The goal this year, with higher ticket prices and more awareness, he says, is between $40,000 and $50,000. The awards banquet is being held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Eagle Ridge dry floor arena at City Centre Park in Langford.

Visit anglerscoalition.com for rules and other information on the derby.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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