Jim Boorman of Qualicum Beach caught his 32.4-pound Tyee on Saturday, Aug. 31, but he was still feeling “overwhelmed” on Monday afternoon when his catch was announced as the $15,000 winner of Port Alberni’s 48th annual Salmon Festival.
“It took a lot of effort,” he said of his fish, which was caught between China Creek and Lone Tree on the Alberni Inlet at around 2 p.m. on Saturday. “We didn’t even realize it was a keeper at first.”
The catch came after hours of fishing without a single bite. Boorman and his fishing partners, Trent and Harlen Morse, said they only caught two fish for the entire weekend. But the disappointment was short-lived.
“This is my third year with them [at Salmon Fest],” Boorman explained. “It’s nice to be with friends. Winning is pretty special. I’m kind of overwhelmed,” he added again.
The 48th annual Salmon Festival in Port Alberni was a success, mostly due to the work of a number of dedicated volunteers. Emcee David Wiwchar explained on Monday that Kiwanis membership has been declining over the past few years.
“But they still pulled off this fun event with the help of all the volunteers,” he added.
Salmon Festival saw some “major changes” this year, explained society president Dan Washington, including the addition of an open license. The beer garden was removed, and people were able to carry their alcoholic beverages throughout the site.
Part of the change meant the entrance to the site had a dedicated fence, and security guards were checking bags, purses and strollers for any outside liquids. This was also the first year that food trucks were included in the festival; the Kiwanis food bus did not operate due to a lack of volunteers to run it.
“Things changed a little bit,” Washington admitted. “But hopefully they’ve changed for the better.”
Despite a number of complaints on social media, Washington said the open concept event was well-organized and had few difficulties.
“The naysayers were very loud,” he said. “But we received some very positive comments down here. I think Port Alberni handled [the change] very well.”
With only two years to go until Salmon Festival’s 50-year celebration, Washington said organization has already started for the landmark event.
“It’s going to be a real good 50th party,” he hinted.
Salmon Festival 2019 winners:
1. Jim Boorman (Qualicum Beach) (32.4)
2. John Leckie (Christina Lake) (31.4)
3. Alan Francoeur (Port Alberni) (28.4)
1. Jim Lawson (Port Alberni) (28.06)
2. Creg Yurechko (Burnaby) (27.12)
3. Colin Haime (Ladysmith) (26.0)
1. Josh Harvey (Port Alberni) (29.6)
2. Jerry Coupal (Port Alberni) (25.10)
3. Darren Simpson (Port Alberni) (25.0)
Port Alberni Rotary Club $10,000 Draw: Henry Clement
Fred Duncan Memorial Award: Josh Harvey
Egon Matheson Memorial Award: Curtis Greig