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Look out fish—the Lions are coming

The Masset Haida Lions are getting set to host their first fishing derby on the June 11-12 weekend.

No matter who lands the biggest salmon and halibut at the Masset Haida Lions’ first fishing derby this weekend, local youth and community groups will be winners.

Best known for a Christmas telethon that last year raised nearly $16,000 in a single day, the Lions are roaring into summer by co-hosting a fishing derby with the Masset Legion.

Tickets are $100 for adults, $20 for kids, and include a Sunday steak dinner and prize draw, not to mention the chance to compete for the $1,000 salmon and $500 halibut cash prizes in the Saturday and Sunday derby.

“People hear about us, but they don’t always see what we do,” says Kurt Evans, one of the newer Lions in the growing club of 14.

While the Lions are branching out by adding a summer event this year, they have always been year-round community boosters.

Much of what the Lions do is focused on youth. This year they gave travel grants to All-Native basketball teams, sponsored kids’ soccer, and helped out with a high-school exchange between George M. Dawson and a school in Ottawa.

Last year, the Club bought a $15,000 adapted bathtub and flat-screen TVs for the Northern Haida Gwaii Medical Centre, and every year they support Easter Seals Vancouver and keep a support fund handy for families who might have to travel off-island for emergencies.

With about 100 adults and 40 youth fishers expected to join the derby, including guests from local fishing lodges and several fishers from Skidegate and Queen Charlotte, it will raise even more support, and not a little competition.

Kirt Holland, who already has a 78 lbs salmon to his name, said he expects to see a lot of competing boats close by.

“Oh yeah, we’ll be close to each other,” said Holland, laughing.

“I’ll be playing defence, and offence.”

Regular sport-fishing rules apply, and both DFO and Haida Fisheries Guardians will be on hand.

Fishers can land one halibut each day, no bigger than 133 by 83 cm.

That means the winner of the halibut prize will be judged on a combined weight of one fish over and another under 83 cm.

“The little guy will be the determining factor,” said Evans. “That should make it interesting.”

A weigh scale will be set up by the back stairs at the Masset Legion, and weigh-ins will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday—fishers must make it to the scale on deadline.

Everyone with a ticket will get a turn to pick from a table of donated prizes that include everything from rods and tackle to a signed Canucks T-shirt and life jackets for dogs.

Fishers can pick up their registration package at the Legion from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday night, or register early by emailing mhlionsclub@gmail.com and arranging an e-transfer.

“I think it will always be at the Legion,” said Evans, already looking ahead to next year’s derby.

“It’s a good fit, the Legion and the Lions.”