An architect from Connecticut and a mailman from Westport were the top winners in this year’s 63rd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.
On Sunday, Paul C. Harris of Oak Bluffs and Weston, Conn., won a new black Chevrolet 4x4 pickup truck for a 10.75-pound bonito he caught while fishing with friends earlier this month.
Scott D. Tompkins of Westport won a 20-foot center console Eastern powerboat for a 40.12-pound striped bass he caught fishing alone on an Up-Island shore in the early evening of Oct. 1.
This was an off year for the annual 35-day fishing contest. Participation was down by almost 300, though 2,724 registered fishermen are still significant. There was no shortage of anglers at the awards ceremony at Outerland at the airport. The nightclub was full of derby contestants, their friends and relatives, while outside a strong northeast breeze blew. The wind had pretty much shut down the best fishing for the last days of the contest.
“We had originally planned on striped bass fishing,” said Mr. Harris, 48, after the awards ceremony. His winning fish was the first bonito he had ever caught. “I have caught big fish in the Pacific Ocean, in the Atlantic, in the Caribbean. I’ve fished on Martha’s Vineyard since I was six years old, I’ve caught fast and big fish but I had never caught a bonito before.”
Mr. Harris went fishing with three of his friends on Friday, Oct. 10. “I think it was the finest fishing day I’ve seen in 12 years. It was perfect,” Mr. Harris said.
Mr. Harris said he plans to meet with the three other anglers to discuss what to do with the truck. “We will have a meeting. There were four of us. Anyone could have caught that fish. We will sit down. They are all my friends. We will sit down with a steak and a beer and talk about what to do,” he said.
Mr. Tompkins, 39, plans to take up fishing from a boat. “I am going to do all I can to keep that boat,” he said. “I am going to take boating courses this winter to learn.”
This was Mr. Tompkins’s second year competing in the derby. “I came to the Vineyard to fish the derby last year,” he said. He had so much fun he came back again. He described himself as an avid shore fisherman.
He said he went to the shore as it was getting dark and started fishing with a Danny plug. “There was lightning approaching, I didn’t walk too far from the parking lot. I made about 12 or 20 casts, at the most. I caught the fish right away.”
He said he knew it was a big fish, when it started running. “I knew it was bigger than the striper I caught in the spring, a 32 pounder,” he said.
Though the two top winners have little to share about catching their winning fish, they both share an opinion about fishing the derby.
“For me the derby is a vacation to get out. I don’t fish to win. To me it is walking those beaches at night,” Mr. Tompkins said.
“I love fishing the derby. I have young daughters, Caroline and Charlotte. Usually when I go fishing it is about fishing with the kids,” Mr. Harris said.
This year’s derby will go down in the record books as a bluefish tournament. A total of 1,438 bluefish were caught. While that may not be a derby record for bluefish, it certainly overshadows the other three species: four times more than striped bass. A fraction of bonito and false albacore represent the 21,789 pounds of fish weighed in. There were 392 striped bass caught.
Only five bonito were caught from the shore and weighed in. There were 280 bonito caught from a boat.
There were 168 false albacore weighed in this year.
Fishing was a challenge. Many of the top anglers were familiar. They spanned all ages and had last names like Morris, Metcalf and Kadison.
Not all the winners were experienced at fishing. Caroline Henderson of Wareham has watched her husband fish for years in the derby but until this year she had never touched a rod. “I always sat and read while my husband [James] fished the derby,” she said. This year was different. “I asked him to show me how to cast,” she said.
At Metcalf’s hole at 1 p.m. she caught a 13.67-pound bluefish and won a third place grand overall.
Her 14-year-old grandson, Keith Henderson, won a first place daily in the junior division.
One of the most experienced derby anglers, Lev Wlodyka of Chilmark, caught the largest striped bass in the derby, a 46.82-pound fish.
His father Walter Wlodyka was at the awards ceremony, cheering his son.
Mr. Wlodyka, who usually fishes the derby, said he sat it out this year, having been diagnosed with tularemia. “I tell you, the fish were out there. I talked to fishermen who said there were acres of bonito and false albacore south of the Island. They just didn’t come close. Fish only go where there is bait. Fish don’t come here for vacation. They come here to eat,” he said.
The Kadison family of Vineyard Haven did well in the derby, sweeping the first place junior boat category.
William C. Kadison, 13, won a first for a 40.98-pound striped bass and a 14.25-pound bluefish. His 15-year-old sister Sarah didn’t fish. Their brother Dylan, 6, won two first place grand awards in the mini junior division with a 26.05-pound boat bass and a 8.86-pound false albacore. Their father David C. Kadison won the grand slam award, having caught every species: an 11.93-pound bluefish, a 6.47-pound bonito, an 8.36-pound false albacore and a 36.13-pound striped bass, for a winning combined weight of 62.89 pounds. William C. Kadison also got a first place junior grand slam.
Chris Kadison said she doesn’t fish, though her husband and two of their children fished every weekend during the derby. “I admire that they found something that they love to do and they do it together,” she said.
Another avid young angler, 14-year-old Sarah J. Williston of Oak Bluffs, got a top rod junior shore award for earning four pins. She fished every weekend with her father Bobby and got a pile of prizes with a second place junior grand slam. In the junior division she won a first place for the largest boat bonito, 8.24 pounds; a second place for the largest boat bluefish, 13.35 pounds; and a third place for the largest boat false albacore, 9.17 pounds.
The afternoon ceremony was also an opportunity to point fingers in the opposite direction and celebrate the work of the derby committee and their chairman. John Custer, chairman of the derby, got special thanks for serving for six years. Mr. Custer said he is stepping down but not away. His new position as vice principal of the Tisbury School and family require more of his time.
Ed Jerome, president of the derby, announced that through this year’s successful tournament, $30,000 will be committed again in the coming year to scholarships for graduating regional high school seniors.
Award WinnersAll Tackle Grand Awards:
Striped Bass. Boat: 1, Lev C. Wlodyka, 46.82; 2, Morgan A. Child, 46.74; 3, Zachary K. Tilton, 43.66. Shore: 1, Scott D. Tompkins, 40.12; 2, Keith A. McArt, 36.46; 3, Joey Medeiros, 35.71.
Bonito. Boat: 1, Paul C. Harris, 10.75; 2, Kevin E. Peters, 9.99; 3, Tim W. Goodman, 9.61. Shore: 1, Jared Stobie, 7.22; 2, Keith A. McArt, 7.05; 3, Hans Kromhout, 6.72.
Bluefish. Boat: 1, Alphonsus D. Simmons, 16.12; 2, Joe El-deiry, 15.40; 3, Billy L. Sweeney, 15.18. Shore: 1, Ralph J. Peckham, 14.05; 2, Clinton A. Fisher, 13.77; 3, Carolyn E. Henderson, 13.67.
False Albacore. Boat: 1, William A. Pate, 11.44; 2, Sarah A. Webb, 11.34; 3, John P. Malcouronne, 11.28. Shore: 1, James C. Cornwell, 11.55; 2, Gary L. Davidson, 11.55; 3, Jay K. Brown, 10.54.
Mini Junior Grand Awards:
Striped bass. Boat: 1, Dylan Kadison, 26.05; 2, Mike B. Metcalf, 22.29; 3, Curtis J. Fournier, 20.94. Shore: 1, Dawson Rigg, 18.84; 2, Curtis J. Fournier, 13.28; 3, Quinn C. Keefe, 13.20.
Bonito. Boat: 1, Brendan R. Morris, 7.85; 2, Benjamin E. Peters, 7.77; 3, Mike B. Metcalf, 6.14.
Bluefish: Boat: 1, Jack Nixon, 13.74; 2, Victoria Scott, 11.29; 3, Nolan Bouchard, 11.01. Shore: 1, Taylor P. Blair, 10.57; 2, Tristan R. Blair, 6.83; 3, Benjamin E. Peters, 5.85.
False albacore. Boat: 1, Dylan Kadison, 8.86; 2, Mike B. Metcalf, 8.48; 3, Brendan R. Morris, 8.16.
Junior Grand Awards:
Striped bass. Boat: 1, William C. Kadison, 40.98; 2, Andrew P. Fournier, 24.66; 3, Cameron Maciel, 23.65. Shore: 1, William B. Stewart, 23.11; 2, Sarah J. Williston, 17.52; 3, Sam Doggett, 15.09.
Bonito. Boat: 1, Sarah J. Williston, 8.24; 2, Joseph W. Turney, 7.90; 3, William C. Kadison, 7.13.
Bluefish. Boat: 1, William C. Kadison, 14.25; 2, Sarah J. Williston, 13.35; 3, Bryan Carter, 12.67. Shore: Curtis J. Farrell, 15.55; 2, Michael Morris, 11.15; 3, Cameron Maciel, 10.28.
False albacore. Boat: 1, Nick L. Watts, 9.99; 2, Stephen K. Sawyer, Jr., 9.60; 3, Sarah J. Williston, 9.17. Shore: 1, Curtis J. Farrell, 7.81; 2, Cheyenne D. Tilton, 6.96.
Flyrod Grand Awards:
Striped bass. Boat: 1, Jaime H. Boyle, 26.96; 2, Gary A. Mirando, 22.76; 3, Paul W. Dimaura, 17.98. Shore: 1, George P. Moran, 19.55; 2, David W. Skok, 17.24; 3, Tim P. Sheran, 14.68.
Bonito. 1, W. Brice Contessa, 7.89; 2, John C. Rapone, 5.78; 3, Brian K. Nunes-Vais, 5.50.
Bluefish. Boat: 1, Tom M. O’Hanlon, 8.55; 2, Michael A. Poirier, 8.36; 3, Gary A. Mirando, 8.15. Shore: 1, George P. Moran, 8.68; 2, Dick A. Adams, 8.18; 3, Marica Cicoria, 6.05.
False albacore. Boat: 1, W. Brice Contessa, 11.08; 2, Kenneth P. Baracchini, 9.18; 3, David C. Kadison, 8.68. Shore: 1, Scott R. Patterson, 10.49; 2, Terry W. Horrocks, 9.60; 3, Ron J. Sullivan, 9.15.
Senior awards. Madison Alwardt Memorial Award (bluefish) shore: Ron Domurat, boat: Peter West. Ray Metcalf Memorial Award (bass) shore: Ron Domurat, boat: Lynn Howell. Arnold Spofford Memorial Award (bonito) boat: Ed Lepore. Howie Leonard Memorial Award (false albacore) shore: James Cornwell, boat: Bob Clay.
Thomas McCauley Memorial Award, Peter West. Cutler Bike Shop Award, Curtis Farrell, William Kadison. David Furino Memorial Award, Zachary and Zeb Tilton. Beaulieu/Loud Memorial Award, Norman and Nolan Bouchard. Roberto Germani Release Award, Flyrod: Ed Lepore; All-tackle; Liz Baldwin.
Robert (Huff) Langley Memorial Award, Jay Brown.
Team competition: Boat, Wampum, Lev Wlodyka, Geoff Codding, 66.27 pounds. Shore, McRat, Keith McArt, Ron Domurat, 62.76 pounds.
Creek Company Flyrod Shore Award, George Moran. Albert Angelone Memorial Award, Bryan Carter. Junior Top Rod, boat: Brendan Morris (nine pins), Shore: Sarah Williston (four pins).
Top Rod Award. Boat: David C. Kadison, 12 pins. Shore: Ron Domurat, seven pins. Junior boat: Brendan R. Morris, nine pins. Junior shore: Sarah J. Williston, four pins.
Wayne Jackson Memorial Award, heaviest fish caught by a junior, William C. Kadison.
Victor Danberg Trophy, to the boy and girl junior catching the heaviest bluefish: Curtis J. Farrell and Sarah J. Williston.
Chamber of Commerce Award, for the heaviest false albacore caught by a junior, Nick L. Watts; heaviest shore bluefish caught by a senior, Ron Domurat.
The Dr. David Finkelstein Award, for the heaviest boat and shore bluefish: Alphonsus D. Simmons and Curtis J. Farrell. The George H. Pye Award, for the heaviest shore bluefish caught by a resident and non-resident senior: Ron Domurat and Gerry E. Belsan.
The daRosa Awards, for the heaviest overall bluefish and striped bass: Alphonsus D. Simmons and Lev C. Wlodyka.
The James P. Catlow Memorial Award, for the heaviest shore bluefish caught by a male: Curtis J. Farrell.
The Thomas Nessa Memorial Award, individual who weighs the heaviest striped bass on the first day of the tournament: Matthew Gamache, 32.22 pounds.
The Thomas A. McCauley Award: Peter West.
The Bill Ashak Memorial Award, largest shore bass caught by a junior: William B. Stewart.
The Kastmaster Joe Memorial Award, fisherman who weighs in the heaviest shore bluefish on the first day of the tournament: John Hathaway, 9.42 pounds.
The Abe Williams Memorial Award, first angler to record a grand slam: Keith A. McArt, Oct. 7.
Grand Slam Leaders
All Tackle: Boat: 1, David C. Kadison; 2, Brian K. Nunes-Vais; 3, Keith D. Stevens. Shore: Keith A. McArt. Flyrod: 1, W. Brice Contessa; 2, John C. Rapone. Junior: 1, William C. Kadison, Sarah J. Williston, Dylan Kadison.