How the Friday Harbor Salmon Classic Came About

Jimmie Lawson, the organizer of this new derby, has lived in Friday Harbor for 23 years and started saltwater fishing in the San Juans shortly after arriving.

He is a self-taught salmon fisherman due to the fact that many locals would not give any information or secrets up about how or where to fish. He read some books, watched salmon fishing videos, and took what he learned to the water. He paid attention to the old timers, the legends, the derby winners. He began catching fish and decided to enter some of the local derbies, and the one that got his attention was the Rosario Derby.

These were the elite standing in the room, and though feeling unworthy Jimmie and his team went for it. They caught zero fish in blowing wind, cold temperatures and snow, and he gained a new respect for the fishermen and the derby. It was hardcore winter angling that included some of the best fishermen in the Pacific Northwest.

A year or two later the regulations changed, and there was no longer December fishing. The Rosario Derby was rescheduled to other months, the resort came under new ownership, and soon there was no derby.

In December 2009, during Jimmie’s presidency of the San Juan Islands Chapter of the PSA Club, December fishing opened again. He decided to start a fishing derby to help raise money for the PSA Club and salmon enhancement. He chose the first weekend in December, the same weekend as the old Rosario derby, and named it the Resurrection Derby in reference to bringing back what used to be. Though it did not sell out all 100 entries, the Resurrection Derby was a success.

The local PSA Club ended up merging with the Fidalgo PSA Chapter, and the derby continued to run out of Friday Harbor for the next few years with much success. Then, in summer of 2015, the Fidalgo PSA Chapter wanted the Resurrection Derby moved to Anacortes.

Many anglers could not bear the thought of this move, so Jimmie decided to start the new Friday Harbor Salmon Classic to run the first weekend in December. This is the fisherman’s derby.

He looks forward to everyone coming and making this an event that will be a tradition and success for many years to come.