A winner from the 2019 Ootsa Lake Fishing Derby showing off his catch. (Lakes District News file photo)

A winner from the 2019 Ootsa Lake Fishing Derby showing off his catch. (Lakes District News file photo)

Residents to enjoy Ootsa Lake Fishing Derby this year

The annual Labour Day Ootsa Lake Fishing Derby is back this year after a gap last year due to COVID.

“We had to cancel last year due to COVID but this year, with restrictions being lifted, we decided to go ahead. It took us so long to decide because of how fast the situation was changing and we were constantly getting inquiries and calls on whether or not we would be hosting the derby this year,” said Pat Kalaman, president of the Tweedsmuir Recreation Commission.

This year would have been the Ootsa Lake Fishing Derby’s 35th year of hosting the derby. However in the years since the derby first started, it had to be cancelled twice; once due to the 2018 wildfires and last year it was due to COVID.

“This year we are back to having it. And it is a major fundraiser for the Tweedsmuir Recreation Commission,” said Kalaman.

The commission has to maintain the hall, often hosts host a Christmas concert, a July 1 event, a mother’s day brunch and sometimes they even host programs such as a Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner.

The event will take place over the Labour Day weekend from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6. Friday will be open for registration from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. but there will be no fishing on Friday.

“We realized that people will be able to stagger and maintain distance,” said Kalaman, adding that while most of the time people will anyway be distanced, during the prize distribution and hot-dog time, people will be asked to maintain the six-feet distance, and follow the necessary COVID protocols as required at that time.

Sport fishing, which has been a part of Burns Lake’s heritage and history, is a tradition that has continued even today. Each year, both locals and visitors enjoy the 3000-miles of fishing opportunity offered by Burns Lake and area. The fishing derby itself sees a large number of participants and onlookers each year. In 2019, roughly 196 anglers participated during the derby.

“It is not easy to organize such an event on this scale and we are always looking for volunteers,” said Kalaman.

The Tweedsmuir Recreation Commission is seeking volunteers for the Ootsa Lake Fishing Derby event for this year and anyone who wants to volunteer could reach out to Kalaman on 250-694-3658 or to Nancy Plesko on 250-694-3377