Fish for the Future event host Matt Dawson cheers alongside the tournament’s winner Mikayla Nikiforuk on Sept. 27. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Fish for the Future event host Matt Dawson cheers alongside the tournament’s winner Mikayla Nikiforuk on Sept. 27. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Willie Mitchell’s Fish for the Future catch-and-release derby nets $60,000 for wild salmon

“I liked releasing the fish because I know there are not that many salmon left.”

Tofino local Mikayla Nikiforuk reeled and released a feisty 11.745 lb coho over the weekend to land the top spot on leaderboard for Willie Mitchell’s fourth annual Fish for the Future Catch and Release Tournament.

The 12-year-old angler said she caught and let go the trophy fish between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday at a spot called ‘Happy Face’.

“I reeled it in. It was really difficult. It was fighting. I liked releasing the fish because I know there are not that many [salmon] left,” Nikiforuk told the Westerly after Sunday’s award ceremony at Tofino Resort + Marina (TRM). The youngster walked away with an Atleo floatplane experience for four plus gift cards to Shed and Shelter and a Jeremy Koreski photo print.

Master fisherman Florian Besson headed up the weigh boat throughout the catch and release tournament. When a participating boat caught a fish, they would radio the weigh boat over so the fish could be measured and released safely.

“We give every boat a special net. Instead of them giving us the fish, they give us the net. They don’t indulge the fish at any moment. We take the net, we put the fish in a tote full of water and after that we measure the fish slowly to make sure it is comfortable. Then we release it very slowly,” said Besson.

“Every fish we caught this weekend was released properly, slowly and always wet. It’s very important if you want to release the fish to keep the fish wet. They will not lose any mucus on the skin and they will live a very, very long life,” he continued.

He said 20 coho were caught and released successfully throughout the derby.

Tournament host Matt Dawson said he was thrilled to participate in his fourth Fish for the Future event.

“We want to bring wild salmon back to Clayoquot Sound, and that is first and foremost our objective,” said Dawson during Sunday’s closing ceremonies.

He said Fish for the Future and its partners Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society, Central Westcoast Forest Society, and Cedar Coast Field Station are all a big part of what the event is trying to accomplish.

Funds raised throughout the weekend long Fish for the Future tournament go into a Fish for the Future fund managed the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust (CBT), and as the Fund grows, disbursals will be made to support wild salmon protection and research projects in the following areas: shoreline protection and restoration, hatchery and salmon enhancement, land-based aquaculture developments, and catch and release initiatives.

Rebecca Hurwitz, executive director of the CBT, further explains how funds raised by the initiative support the “donor-advised” Fish for the Future Fund at CBT.

“A donor-advised fund is a type of endowment fund within the CBT’s community foundation portfolio. Donors make an initial gift to create the fund and can add to the capital any time. Each year, they advise the CBT on how they would like the endowment income to be directed based on their interests and priorities. The CBT then makes grants in the name of their fund to the charities of their choice,” said Hurwitz.

Willie Mitchell, co-owner of TRM, elaborates.

“Fish for the Future Fund has received over $60,000 to date and we are excited to grow the endowment this year. Catch and release is the direction we have to go in for our sport. We want to have fish for the future for our kids and our kids’ kids. This is a great way to achieve it,” said Mitchell.

“Each organization has a mandate and we sort of play that middle ground to help wild salmon. We all know this is less about the fish we are catching, but about the fish that are going back. As we get out of this crazy year of 2020, 2021 looks to be a year where we start implementing and start doing some stuff in the watershed and that’s what we want to do,” he said.

Anyone interested in supporting the Fish for the Future Fund is encouraged to visit clayoquotbiosphere.org/ways-to-give/current-campaigns and more information about the foundation can be found at tofinoresortandmarina.com/fish-for-the-future.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Minimal risk to wild salmon from viruses on farmed B.C. salmon: Fisheries Department

READ: Tofino’s Race for the Blue fishing derby casts philanthropic net

READ: Anti-salmon farm protesters rally outside DFO offices

Chinook salmon protectionfishingTofino,

Just Posted

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of three Sooke men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
Eight sick, 108 more isolating in Comox Valley school district due to COVID-19

District says that all who tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Most Read