Photo by Chung Chow
Their catch may have been relatively small, but the smiles on the faces of the young anglers were at least as big as the whales that frequent the coastline.
On a picture-perfect, sun-soaked Saturday morning, 110 children—ranging in age from a mere nine months to 12 years—were joined by 18 seniors, 65-plus, for two hours of fishing in the 28th annual Bullhead Derby at Garry Point Park.
“Just seeing the expressions on their faces is magic,” said event co-ordinator John Wells, a volunteer with the Richmond Rods and Reels Society, which has hosted the derby for the past 20 years.
Reflecting the derby’s “family atmosphere,” Wells said it is rewarding to see how many former participants now bring their own kids out. This year, former Richmond Mayor Greg Halsey-Brandt even signed up as a senior while his two grandsons took part in the kids’ division.
The official kick-off to the 72nd annual Steveston Salmon Festival, the Bullhead Derby also owes part of its popularity to the generous, and ongoing, support from the community. Every year, this being no exception, businesses such as Pajo’s, White Spot, Boston Pizza and Pacific Net and Twine step up to contribute prizes. As well, another group donates $300 annually from a memorial fund that honours a Richmond resident who lost his life while fishing when an over-hang gave way.
The longest bullhead catch at the 2017 derby measured 10 inches, while prizes were also awarded to the youngest (nine months) and oldest (86 years old) anglers.
All the participants in the derby received prizes, with the first three finishers in each category also receiving trophies and a fishing reel and rod. Others also took home tackle boxes for their efforts.
“Seeing the kids have fun and learning to fish, that’s what this is all about,” Wells said.