Brendan Morrison tops the charts with a decade of the Saltwater Classic
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The 10th Annual Tofino Saltwater Classic was an astounding hit! The annual fishing derby and community fundraiser rounded off its first decade earlier this month (July 5-7), raising $80,000 for community initiatives.
Founded and hosted by former NHL star (and now Tofino resident) Brendan Morrison, the Saltwater Classic has raised over $575,000 since its inception, with all proceeds going to support local programs like the Wickaninnish School Healthy Food Program, the Raincoast Education Society’s Outdoor Field School and the Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society.
Morrison has been visiting Tofino for over 40 years (his first visit being in his mom’s belly!), and, captivated by the “pounding surf, rugged coastline and sandy beaches,” Morrison says he’s always had a deep connection to the ocean here. Now the Morrison family—Brendan and his wife have four kids—have had a home in Tofino for the past 14 years. When he’s not working on new projects (he hosts a fishing show Reel West Coast, among other business ventures), Morrison says he likes to “get on the boat and explore the hundreds of different islands and inlets in Clayoquot Sound.”
Giving back to the community he describes as “Mystical. Weathered. Magic.” has been a fulfilling endeavour. “We never really knew how the Tofino Saltwater Classic would be received when it was started,” said Morrison. “Our team believed we had a good idea that could support some great local initiatives. The community has embraced it wholeheartedly, and we want the event to continue for years to come.”
Whether they’re avid anglers or generous donors, many people return to the West Coast every year to participate in the event. Regulars will have noticed a technical change for 2019: Chinook prizes were catch-and-release format only due to new Department of Fisheries and Oceans regulations for population conservation.
However, the restrictions didn’t change the fun and excitement. And, while competitive in nature, the derby is ultimately about giving back to the community—one that people from all over the world visit and cherish.
When asked about his previous career in the NHL, Morrison says he misses “the highs and lows of competing. The physicalness that goes into preparing for the season and games. The camaraderie in the dressing room with all the bantering back and forth! It’s a very unique work environment that cannot be replicated.” So, while fishing is the mainstay of the event, Morrison didn’t leave his other favourite sport out of it entirely. Prior to the derby, he hosted the annual Kids Ball Hockey Game for local youth at Wickaninnish Community School; a great family-friendly way to kick off the festivities.
As another component of this fundraising effort, every year the Wickaninnish Inn hosts a special Shell Beach Dinner with Brendan on the derby weekend. This year had an exceptional turnout, with a total of $19,000 raised by ticket sales and a surprise live auction of a fishing trip with Brendan.
With ten successful years behind them, and donating to fourteen different local initiatives, Morrison, his team and the many amazing volunteers have much to be proud about, and, as dedicated community members, we are delighted to continue to be part of it.