The most dangerous sport in the Fraser Valley doesn't require participants to wear a helmet. You don't need to sign a waiver. And there are no referees.
Over the last three years, at least three people have died engaged in this popular local past-time. Despite that, the hundreds of people who take part in the sport continue to eschew basic safety equipment.
This deadly sport is none other than fishing - a relaxing pursuit that over the past three years has taken the lives of brothers, husbands and fathers.
On Aug. 11, a boat carrying three fishermen capsized near the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge. While two anglers made it to shore, a 49-year-old Agassiz fisherman is still missing.
The likelihood of finding the man alive is "next to zero," Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue Neil Brewer said Tuesday.
Even if the man miraculously survived, fishing remains a potentially deadly way to spend an afternoon in the Fraser Valley, in part because many anglers don't think of it as such. Mike Vang from Abbotsford now knows the dangers first hand. Last year, his 24-year-old brother Christopher drowned after helping pull a friend from the river.
Mike, 33, had introduced Christopher to fishing. After angling on local lakes for bass and trout for years, the brothers bought salmon fishing gear last year. They fished the Fraser River frequently, but like many others, they were oblivious to the dangers of the sport.
On Sept. 11, Mike had other plans and couldn't accompany Christopher and his friends.
He never thought his brother might not return.
"The last thing I said to him was 'Hey, make sure you bring me back a fish,'" Mike told the Times.
Christopher - like Mike, when he went fishing - wasn't wearing a lifejacket when he slipped into the Fraser.
Neither was a British angler who died on the Chilliwack River in 2010. Ditto for a North Delta fisherman who fell into the Fraser that year.
Brewer, with Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue, said he wasn't sure but he doesn't believe that the man who fell into the water Saturday was wearing his lifejacket
Mike and his family established the Christopher Vang Memorial Fund, which seeks to inform fishermen about proper river safety. He's adamant now that all fishermen should wear lifejackets, even if they're casting from shore.
Still, he understands why so many don't. When the brothers went to the river, it was clear that life preservers were not considered "fishing gear."
"Of all the guys I saw when I went out there, I can probably count on one hand how many had life jackets on," he said. Mike was not one of them. "I was like any other person out there. Went out, didn't think about the dangers . . . never thought to pick up a lifejacket because, hey, I'm just on the shore, what's going to happen?"
And he remembers that last time he saw Chris:
"I have life jackets hanging in my shed and I didn't even think about giving them to him," Mike said.
His goal is to make anglers and their families think about the importance of safety on the river.
There have been some positive changes that give Mike hope that his brother's death may help prevent similar tragedies. He says B.C. Fisheries workers have been issued Mustang Survival Rescue Sticks that can be thrown toward fishermen who fall into the river. The sticks inflate upon contact with the river, but at more than $100 they're expensive, which Mike worries will deter others from buying them.
Since his brother died, Mike hasn't been back fishing. He plans to return someday, but is focusing for the moment on educating others so men and women stop dying at a sport that's supposed to be anything but dangerous.
"I think it has to do a lot with education and respect for the river," he said.