More than three tons of fish have been weighed in so far in the month-long 65th annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. At least 460 bluefish have been weighed in, three times more than the number of striped bass.
False albacore is again the scarce fish in the derby; only 35 have been weighed in so far. A total number of 96 bonito have touched the scales. That translates to 4,172.37 pounds of bluefish; 2,398.12 pounds of striped bass; 586.27 pounds of bonito; and 332.41 pounds of false albacore, as of yesterday.
Between passing distant hurricanes and a rare thunderstorm, the weather has been good. Wind, not rain, has been a mild curse this past week. There was too much wind on Wednesday, but the seas flattened yesterday.
The derby is the Vineyard sport to watch, and there have been plenty of spectators. On Tuesday night at the weigh-in, there was standing room only as one fisherman after another passed by weighmaster Charlie Smith. While many were there to watch visiting anglers participating in the Beach Plum Inn American Heroes Saltwater Challenge, there were plenty of top Island anglers in attendance, coming in to weigh in their bluefish.
Thomas Teller of Edgartown, accompanied by his fishing wife, Estey, weighed an 11.11-pound bluefish he caught from his boat. It earned him a third place for the day.
Wilson Kerr, derby committee member, who has been walking around sporting a camera for a good part of the derby, weighed in a 9.48-pound blue he caught from the shore. A top derby angler, Zachary K. Tilton, came in with the biggest boat blue for the day, a 13.28 pounder, which earned him a third place in the bluefish boat division.
Very little of all this fish is wasted. Fillet masters on a small floating barge, with a shed and refrigeration, were poised to accept any fish donated to the senior citizens of the Island. Anglers often will donate a couple of hours, too, to cutting the fish after they are weighed in. Each year, the derby distributes close to 5,000 pounds of fish fillets to local councils on aging.
More than 2,000 anglers are registered in the contest and there are still three weeks left. The awards ceremony is Saturday, Oct. 16.
Registration is $45, at most Vineyard fishing tackle shops. The weigh-in station at the foot of Main street in Edgartown is open every day from 8 to 10 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. The derby keeps a running list of winners at their Web site, mvderby.com.