port alberni salmon fest
port alberni salmon festival

2023 Salmon Fest

Port Alberni’s Dan Sexton wins Labour Day Salmon Derby for the second time
Annual salmon derby was organized by the Alberni Valley Tyee Club

A Port Alberni man has won the Labour Day Salmon Derby for the second time.

Dan Sexton was named the overall winner on Monday, Sept. 4 with his 23-pound, 14-ounce salmon caught at Pill Point on Sunday, using anchovy for bait. He and his fishing partners were fishing in shallow waters when the fish bit.

“I knew it was a good one right off the bat,” said Sexton. “I said, ‘Boys, this fish is going to wake up pretty soon.’ And then it just took off.”
They managed to reel it in, and Sexton knew right away that it was a potential winner.

“The fish are a lot smaller than they used to be,” he admitted. “Back in the day, we used to release these fish, and now they’re derby winners.”

This is the second time Sexton has won the derby. His first win was back in 1998 with a 43.7-pounder. He has been fishing every year since the mid-90s and fishes purely for the love of the sport—although the $10,000 prize is an added perk.

He and his fishing partners will be sharing the winnings.

“Sometimes you get lucky,” he said. “We were really fortunate, there were a lot of very good fishers this year.”

Carolyn Jasken, of the Alberni Valley Tyee Club, says the club will be regrouping to decide what they will do for next year’s derby. This is the third year the club has organized the derby, and although there was no official “Salmon Festival” to accompany the derby, some Harbour Quay merchants offered a few salmon-related specials and activities over the weekend.

And the fishing was still popular, as always.

“There were lots of fish being caught, despite the small weights,” Jasken said.

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Teenage angler nets top prize at Port Alberni salmon derby

A teenage angler picked up the top prize at Port Alberni’s salmon derby this year.

winner salmon fest 2022

Justin McKay of Port Alberni, 14 years old, picked up the $10,000 first prize with his 27.1 pound fish, caught in the harbour on the second day of the derby. According to Carolyn Jasken of the Alberni Valley Tyee Club, he is the all-time youngest winner of the derby.

“I can’t believe it,” said McKay on Monday, Sept. 5. “It feels like I’m in a dream.”

McKay said he and his mother have been taking part in the salmon derby since he was very young, but this was his first time winning.

“I was on my phone playing a game, then I looked up and our top rod went off,” he explained.

He and his mom had to chase the fish under multiple boats before they finally reeled it in and netted it. The process took about five minutes in all, said McKay.

But the effort was worth it, as McKay had the largest fish caught all weekend. He already has plans to buy a dirt bike with his prize winnings.

“And I’ll take my mom and stepdad out for dinner,” he added. “That’s a lot of money for a 14-year-old.”

The Alberni Valley Tyee Club announced earlier this year that they would be taking on the Labour Day salmon derby this year. The club would focus on the derby, with hopes that a festival would re-grow around it. Jasken said there were approximately 1,500 fishers in all at this year’s derby.

Despite some concern that the “festival” portion of Salmon Fest would be cancelled this year, volunteers and sponsors managed to put together a “mini fest” for the weekend.

The Sugar Shak put on a fireworks show from Centennial Pier on Friday, with sponsorship from the Folkfest Multicultural Society, Paper Excellence and San Group. A few local musicians donated their music for the weekend, and Alberni Teens Can Rock hosted a karaoke competition on Sunday afternoon. The Little and Robinson families put on a salmon dinner for the weekend, and the Community Arts Council offered an art project for kids with help from Art Rave, the Alberni Valley Enhancement Association and San Group.

“It’s been phenomenal,” said Jasken. “A giant seed has been planted for next year.”

winners of three days 2022

Salmon Derby Winners:


1. Scott Clydesdale (26.2)
2. Bob Leyland (23.6)
3. Roger Kattai (22.5)

1. Justin McKay (27.1)
2. Clark Reed (23.1)
3. Barrie Cozens (22.6)

1. Bob Matlock (21.6)
2. Dawn Stevenson (20.6)
3. Dave Williams (18.9)

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE* [Port Alberni, June 29th, 2022]

The Alberni Valley Tyee Club is pleased to announce a new era. The 3 day derby will be returning home to our old historical roots of hosting the 2022 Port Alberni Labour day Salmon derby on September 3rd, 4​th, 5th. Limited Tickets will be on sale in August at Port Alberni and Bamfield fishing and marine stores After 50 years of manning the weigh scales for the Salmon festival Society at the Clutesi Haven Marina, Tyee Landing and more recently during COVID for the Ultimate Fishing Town committee at Centennial Pier, it was a natural fit to bring the lure and history of the derby back to the Tyee Club & the fisherman where the original Tyee Clubs 3 day open derby had begun in 1939 at its original central location in Port Alberni's down town waterfront near the old Argyle docks where it resided on the water at a time when the harbor quay never existed. The old location would be now what is considered behind the donut shop at the quay.

The derby will still have the daily cash prizes along with the daily hidden draws and $5000 bonus for the largest salmon caught. We will be reaching out to sponsors for the derby and are looking forward to working alongside the broader business community, harbour quay merchants and other organizations who are interested in bringing the community together helping the derby to succeed and be part of a dynamic event as we navigate unchartered waters moving forward into the future.

A portion of the Proceeds from the event will be used for the benefit of new infrastructure needs and salmon enhancements. At this time we would like to thank the Salmon Fest Society, the Kiwanis, Dan Washington, The Wynans family, Al Ehrenberg, Bob Cole, the Port Authority, Gone Fishin and a special thankyou to Enid VanKooten for her commitment to the derby and all the volunteers over the years

To follow the event and information please go to Click here to go to facebook for updated information 2022 AV Tyee Club

For more media info and sponsorship opportunities

Contact: Carolyn Jasken @250-913-6077
Curtis Leyenaar @ 250-730-09653 day

All information on this website is a history of the Salmon Fest for the year 2019. For current updates, please go to the Salmon Festival facebook page and like and follow for current updates facebook salmon festival

Information for this website will be updated when provided to the website