The 72nd Annual Boxing Day Vedder River Steelhead Derby sponsored by the Chilliwack Fish & Game Protective Association is in the books for another year. The 338 anglers were greeted with a perfect crisp morning as they hit the river at first light. With a dusting of snow as well added to the derby as snow and steelhead fishing go hand in hand, it has been a while since we have had a white Christmas and snow on the ground for derby day.
As well the water conditions were excellent which had been a bit of a concern by the fishers because of the recent high water and a clay slide on the Slesse Slide a few days ago. As well some other slides had opened up as well by the high water events this year causing less than ideal fishing at times, especially when rain pounded down on the slides.
At the close of the derby only 6 fish were on the board with Brandon Eddy capturing the much coveted Ferguson Furnell Trophy with his 15.34 steelhead that he landed around 9 o’clock. Eddy’s fish was the largest to win the derby the last 10 years. A side note, the largest to win the derby ever was in 1970 when Walt Engle took a trophy fish, 21.30 pounds. The smallest to capture the top rung was a 9.13 pound fish way back in 1942. The average weight since the derby began 72 years ago is 14.37 pounds.
Shawn French took second spot, nearly 6 pounds back of Eddy’s winner as it hit the scales at 9.77 pounds. French took his fish less than an hour before the 2 PM deadline.
An 8.68 fish gave Daniel Ryan third spot as well as the first fish brought to the scales at, 8:28 AM.
Brandon Brown’s 8.21 pounder and Devin Noel with a 7.82 pound steelhead took 4th and 5th spot respectively.
The most popular winner was the junior winner, Ryder Gienow as he was greeted by loud applause from his fellow anglers as he received his awards. Ryder took the junior class with a 7.11 pound steelhead that also gave him the smallest steelhead of the derby, his wide smile told it all. His dad Wade has taught Ryan well as Wade had won the derby twice in the last while, in back to back years, 2007 and 2008.
Many other prizes were won by others in the derby on a draw basics.
Paul Dulong the derby chairman was very pleased with the derby, not only by the turnout but by all the local merchants that contribute prizes to the derby each year. “This is one of our major fundraisers of the year and helps fund fish and wildlife habitat conservation” Dulong added.