More than 100 fishers set sail at dawn on Dec. 27 for the 29th annual Prince Rupert Lions Blue Knuckle Derby with a -14 C wind chill.
“It was definitely cold. [The fishers] said it was an actual blue-knuckle derby,” Harry Young, Lions Club member and event organizer, said.
It was another record-breaking year for the derby to see who could reel in the biggest spring salmon before the sunset and 6 p.m. deadline loomed.
The contest saw more than 800 tickets sold — the most ever, and the competition lured in more than 50 local sponsors to help support the community event.
First place for the largest catch went to Cliff Ryan, with a 16.74 lb salmon, netting him the $1,200 grand prize.
In second place, Aven Crawshay’s catch was just .08 lbs under the top spot with a 16.68 lb Chinook. Michael Juetten placed third with his 14.44 lb fish.
The event awarded 124 door prizes, more than it has ever had before, with all provided by local businesses and sponsors. Jeremy Main and Harry Young won two grand feature prizes of $1,000.
Due to COVID-19, health measures awards were announced through Facebook Live, with winners individually attending the Moose Lodge Hall to pick up their prizes.
Money raised from ticket sales goes toward Prince Rupert Lions Club’s philanthropic projects in the city.
Young said this year’s event was one of the most challenging to host.
“We had less people doing more work. So, it took a toll on us.”
The lack of available Lions Club members and individual volunteers for the ever-growing large event, combined with the need to shovel snow from the event’s venues, made it hard for the event organizers to keep up with the demands.
However, they made it happen.
“Overall it was a great success,” Young said.
Next year, the Blue Knuckle Derby turns 30 and organizers hope the pandemic’s effects will lessen so they can host an even larger event.
Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View