History of the Everett Coho Derby

The biggest derby you say! How can that be? Let me give you some history about this event and let you be the judge.

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 Jim Brauch of the Everett Steelhead and Salmon club and Mark Spada of 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, Mac McReynolds, a representative from Olympic Boats, a local retail boat sales operation, approached us to see if they could help sponsor the derby. “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. Up until a couple years ago, the boat, motor and trailer was a mainstay of the raffle portion of the derby and has helped us to grow to what we are today. We have also given away trips to fish Alaska and cash as other alternatives for the raffle.

Why do we think we are the biggest derby in the West? From these humble beginnings, the derby, now called the Everett Coho Derby, has become the largest derby on the West Coast of the continental 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-over 2800 participants. We now average 2000 Adult paid tickets and 270 free kids tickets each year. The prize money has also improved with cash for the five largest fish from $500 for 5th place up to $10,000 for 1st place along with many added cash prize categories (visit our Prizes page to view all the categories.) 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 to include stocking of the local lakes with trout, a salmon fish hatchery raising fish for release in the Skykomish River, carcass planting in the upper Pilchuck River, many different youth activities including trout clinics/fishing events, high school/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 prizes at the same time. What could be better?