Lures and baits won’t be needed to hook hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts at Pearkes Recreation Centre this weekend for the annual Victoria Boat and Fishing Show.
The Feb. 20 to 22 event includes exhibitors ranging from Ducks Unlimited to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, local hunting and fishing shops and the South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition.
“Per capita, Victoria has more independent anglers than all of B.C. It’s amazing,” said Darren Wright, co-owner at Island Outfitters and long-time sponsor of the boat and fishing show. “Just drive around our roads, there’s a boat in every driveway. Fishing is very good here and it’s protected. We’re lucky to live here and be able to fish so locally.”
The fishing season is off to a strong start this year after Fisheries and Oceans Canada opened up halibut fishing on Feb. 1, several weeks earlier than in previous years. Strict fishing licences ensure a sustainably managed population as anglers are allowed a set number of catches per season.
Wright’s co-owner, Ward Bond, will be presenting a talk on halibut fishing each day during this weekend’s event. The company’s six charter boats have already been out on 15 trips since the halibut season kicked off in waters around Race Rocks ecological reserve, Constance Bank and elsewhere in and around the Juan de Fuca strait.
“We get a lot of locals who just want to learn about what we do, lots of people from Vancouver, Calgary, and with the Canadian dollar dropping like it has, we get a lot of people from the States as well,” Bond said.
While charters range between $500 and $800 for a daily trip, those with more boating experience (and a boating licence) can rent fishing boats from various local compaines and make their own way. Though be warned, says Bond, boaters need proper training on ocean tides and currents before venturing into the strait.
The Victoria Boat and Fishing Show opens at 1 p.m. today (Feb. 20) at Pearkes Rec Centre and also includes an indoor air gun range sponsored by the Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association.
Weekend tickets to the show are $9 for men, $7 seniors and kids and teens under 18 and women are free. Bring a food donation to The Mustard Seed food bank and receive $2 off an admission.
See a full list of exhibitors and presentations online at victoriaboatshow.com.