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Lakes area: Ultimate Fishing Town USA?

Port Alberni, British Columbia, probably isn’t a whole lot different than Brainerd, Baxter or a lot of other communities across the lakes area.

The small Canadian town is known for its top-notch fishing — in Port Alberni, it’s salmon — and the pride that comes with that fishing heritage.

Communities across the Brainerd lakes area can relate to that — great fishing and the pride and community support that inevitably follow. So why can’t one of our fishing and lakes communities be the next Port Alberni?

Starting Tuesday, the World Fishing Network is taking nominations for its “Ultimate Fishing Town USA” contest. Last year, WFN ran a similar promotion in Canada, with Port Alberni — population 18,000 — winning the title.

According to the WFN, which bills itself as North America’s only 24-hour fishing lifestyle network, in addition to the national recognition of being named its Ultimate Fishing Town USA, the winning community will receive a $25,000 donation to be used towards fishing-related cause(s) and will be featured on a 30-minute show on WFN about fishing in their town. Second place is a $5,000 fishing-related donation and third place a $2,500 donation.

“No matter if they love to fish in a small rural community or a tourist mecca, we encourage everyone to nominate their favorite fishing spot,” Shauna Gosevitz, senior director of marketing for WFN, said in a news release. “This promotion gives us, and the participating towns, a great opportunity to profile the places where people love to fish all across the USA. We look forward to hearing their stories and letting the people choose WFN’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA.”  

The WFN said that, according to Port Alberni’s community tourism board, the award has brought millions of dollars in free publicity and an immediate economic boom in tourism to the town.

According to Port Alberni’s posting on the contest website, “The title brought us worldwide exposure no town could ever afford to buy. Several big and little city papers featured us across Canada for months on end and many fishing magazines and news stations across Canada talked about Port Alberni as the Ultimate Fishing Town. We have received numerous queries and bookings from people around the world that were also following this contest. The Ultimate Fishing Town contest united Port Alberni like no other and gave the community a sense of pride and accomplishment in ourselves at a time when the community needed it with the downturn in the economy.” 

People may nominate their town from March 1-April 8 by visiting Nominations may include photos, videos and essays about why their town should be WFN’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA. If a town is already nominated, people are encouraged to add to the nomination with additional photos, videos and essays.

For the preliminary round of voting, WFN divided the United States into seven voting regions. The Midwest includes Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana.

Following the March 1-April 8 nomination period, the first round of public voting will run from April 12-May 3. The 20 finalists, comprised of the two entries in each of the seven regions with the highest vote totals plus six “wild card” entrants, will advance to the final round of voting from May 10-31. The results will be announced in June at a ceremony in the winning community.

BRIAN S. PETERSON, outdoors editor, may be reached at or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to For his blogs, go to

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.