Rhonda Lee McIsaac —
Trolling along the north side of Chaatl Island from Skidegate Point towards Startup on an overcast Saturday morning, in the hopes that a tyee will catch your hook and not roll off was the challenge at the Eighth Annual Paul Bentley Memorial Fishing Tournament.
Fishers were out early to get a jump on the competition and at noon, a moment of silence was observed for Paul Bentley, a Haida fisherman for whom the tournament is named. A carved bench now sits at the end of the breakwater on the newly refurbished Queen Charlotte boat launch to allow those who sit there to greet boaters as they arrive or wave to them on their journey onto the waters of Haida Gwaii, which he would have enjoyed. The tournament commemorates his contribution to Swan Bay Rediscovery Program which seeks to teach respect and raise the self-esteem and self-reliance of youth who attend the camp each year. Anglers also recognized Dave Martynuik who passed away recently. Martynuik was a longtime supporter of the tournament, said organizer Randy Pryce, over the radio, after the moment of silence.
Official weigh-in at the Queen Charlotte commercial dock saw Rick Swain coming out on top with a 37.47-pound Spring salmon. Swain walked away with top of the line Islander reel and $1500 for his efforts.
Second place was snagged by Gary Russ Jr. with a hefty 30.31-pound Spring salmon, and he received $500.00.
Third place went to Jonas Pollard with a 27.99-pound Spring and he walked away with $300.
Youth entrant Isaiah Pryce won the Top Kids award and pocketed $200.
Twelve hours on the West Coast, under gray skies, with intermittent sun and 1.5 metre seas only added to the adventure and challenge of the 30 good hearted anglers whose entry fee will go towards the Swan Bay Rediscovery Program.
“Howa’a to all who came out to fish today,” said Pryce. His thanks was followed by a chorus of fishers expressing their gratitude for the good day out on the water.