Gary March of Worley, Idaho, an avid angler, is the winner of the 2017 West Marine Northwest Salmon Derby Series’ raffle grand prize: a fully-equipped, 22’ Hewescraft OceanPro aluminum boat with Honda outboards and trailer valued at around $85,000. He won with a raffle ticket that defied 4,000 to 1 odds. But March’s win is not even the most miraculous part of the story, for the Idahoan received notification of his prize on what might have been the worst week of his life. Tragedy struck on a mule deer hunting trip at Fort Peck Reservoir in northeastern Montana.
“I was in an area that didn’t have cell phone coverage, and was nine miles from the boat launch when I lost control of my truck and boat. It all went off a 30’ embankment,” said March. March’s nickname of “Lucky” seemed more like dark irony at the time. The boat and trailer were damaged while the truck was totaled.
The kicker? The boat that went over the cliff was also a 22’ Hewescraft OceanPro, the exact same boat as the one he won in the derby raffle. We’re still crunching the numbers in our lab, but the odds of a man known as Lucky losing his boat over a cliff and winning the exact same boat in a 4,000 to 1 raffle drawing seems about as likely as the Sasquatch running for Governor.
“How exciting for Gary to win this fully loaded boat, and I can’t wait to see him out on the water at Coeur d’Alene next summer,” said Mark Yuasa, a new director of the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) who coordinates the Northwest Salmon Derby Series. “There was nothing more thrilling than to hear how happy he was after winning this impressive, fully-geared fishing boat.” Impressive may be an understatement, for the prize boat is equipped with an EZ Loader tandem axle trailer, a Raymarine electronics package, Scotty downriggers, Dual Electronics stereo system, and more.
The cherry on top of this feel-good story is that March’s name was entered into the derby series drawing after fishing the Lake Coeur d’Alene “The Big One Derby” (July 26 to 30, 2017). The derby’s existence is a relatively new part of the NMTA’s efforts to widen the Northwest Salmon Derby Series’ participation sphere to more inland waters. March lived in Spokane most of his life and had just retired after a 45-year career with the White’s Boots company.
What to see how lucky you are? The Northwest Salmon Derby Series has announced their 2018 lineup with the addition of several new events. Check out northwestsalmonderbyseries.com for more information.