In 1993 the local fishing oriented business was in a quandary. In an attempt to protect many threatened runs of Coho salmon, the State of Washington declared much of the salt water off limits to salmon fishing and closed most of the local rivers. The only area available was the Snohomish River system and a small “Bubble” right outside the mouth of the Snohomish River. Interest in salmon fishing was low and the sporting goods stores were worried about sales of fishing gear. One of the local store managers, Fabian Loomas from Jerry’s Surplus in Everett, approached the Everett Steelhead and Salmon club and the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club with a proposal. If we would put together a salmon derby targeting the small area which was open, Fabian would try to solicit prizes from the various distributors. In addition, if we did not sell enough tickets to cover the prize money, he would guarantee the prize money would be paid. How could we say, no? The decision was made quickly!

That first year we called it the Snohomish River Coho Derby and we made about $400-$500 per club. Not a lot by today’s standards but in those days, most of our club’s income came from small raffles and coffee rest stop donations. Four hundred dollars was a princely sum and we were overjoyed to have it. We muddled along for the next few years happy to have a derby and happy to make a little money from it. We even tried to have a Humpy Derby one year and discovered two things; humpy anglers don’t buy derby tickets and most humpies entered weighed about the same (10th through about 50th differed by less than 2 oz.).   About the year 2000, a representative from a local retail boat sales operation approached us to see if they could help sponsor the derby. This person, “Mac” McReynolds, to whom we will always be grateful, arranged for a boat, motor and trailer to be given as a grand prize with no cost to the derby. Ticket sales surged that year furnishing money for the many enhancement projects carried on by both clubs.

From these humble beginnings,  the derby  has become the largest derby on the West Coast of the United States based upon numbers of participants. Ticket sales have soared from 900 tickets sold in 2001 to 2527 sold in 2004, a year of inclement weather, along with over 300 free youth tickets. A grand total of over 2800 participants. The prize money has improved with total cash for the five largest fish of nearly $20,000, with added cash prizes for the average size fish caught; the largest fish caught using a certain tackle such as a Dick Nite or Silver Horde. The merchandise prizes have increased also, nearly 500 merchandise prizes in total, with each of them worth  more than the cost of the ticket. (Some of these items are worth more than some of the cash prizes!). This derby has surely become an event to be part of.

The money made in this derby goes to support the many fish enhancement projects of the clubs which include stocking of the local lakes with triploid trout, raising Salmon for release, carcass planting in local rivers, youth activities such as kids fishing events at local lakes, college scholarships and sending kids to youth conservation camp as well as many other activities to numerous to mention. Your money goes to a good cause and you have a chance to win at the same time. What could be better?