I met Ed Amaral while treating Lois, his wife, in the office for something minor. We got to talking about fishing, and though I hadn’t really fished much since childhood, he reignited my passion with his passion. He told me that if I wanted to fish together to show up at his house at 6:30 the next evening, and if I wasn’t there on time, he would be gone. That was the first of many adventures with Ed in recent years, always with the same protocol. Ed mentored me on fishing technique, fishing etiquette and most of all fishing passion. He went over to Larry’s and bought me a spinning rod and reel, because even though I really wanted to flyfish, he told me that in order to get fish you have to do whatever it takes whether it’s a fly, lure or bait. “You have to be flexible,” he said.

I heard many stories about kids and younger fishermen he befriended on the beach, giving them a ride and instruction, who have now become avid derby fishermen. Part of the instruction of course is to never give away a fishing spot or it will soon be packed with people. Ed told me a story about taking someone to a secret flyfishing spot, but because he was worried that this guy was a “talker,” he blindfolded him on the way. He taught me to try to “get the details.” When I would tell him that I heard from someone that the fish were running at a certain spot, he would ask me what they were using, the color and time of day. He has four rules for finding fish. First are the usual three: fish breaking, a slick and birds. The fourth I call Ed’s rule: “If there’s water, you have a chance.” His favorite line is that fishing on the Vineyard is ninety per cent “BS luck,” and then comes the skill.

Ed has friends up and down the beach from all over the world who know and respect him. Even in the dark, there are people who recognize his stature and voice and excitement, saying: “Is that you Ed?” They know that if it is, they are in the right place. Sometimes he tells me the same stories more than once — as we fishermen do. I listen again, caught up in his enthusiasm. If he asks me if he has already told me that story, I don’t lie, but I say that’s okay, I learn best from repetition.

I don’t talk much, I mostly listen, but one evening last year, Solomon B. Watson 4th (who was the chief lawyer for the New York Times), Ed and I were heading over to Chappy. I commented that Ed was like the President of the United States — he didn’t go anywhere without his doctor and lawyer. Ed got a kick out of that.

Another night, Sol, Ed and I were driving to a secret spot after dark. As soon as Ed got to the turnoff, he shut off his headlights and drove on in the dark. It had been a tough derby, with not many fish for me in a long time. I said that I didn’t even care if it was the derby or not; I just wanted to catch a fish. It was pitch black and we were halfway down the dirt road to the secret spot. Ed turned to Sol and asked if he thought they should let me out right there. Ed lives for the derby. He breathes the excitement and exudes the passion. I think he was just kidding about letting me out, but I’m not a hundred per cent sure.

Ed always says not to leave the beach without something, even if you get skunked. There have been those days where we didn’t get fish, but he will then get excited about finding a lure on the beach that someone lost. He told me a story which really begs for a photo. He was up at Gay Head and broke his own rule about not checking that the line is not wound around the end of the pole before casting. So he made the cast and his new lure snapped off. He followed it with his eyes and marked the spot in the water where it landed. Did I mention that he was fishing off the nude beach and he was only wearing his fishing belt and pliers, no bathing suit? Well, he proceeded to wade out to his upper chest and thought he saw the lure on the bottom. He then bent over, head under water and feet up flailing like a duck and got his lure back. What a sight that must have been.

Ed tempers his competitiveness with true fishing sportsmanship. He is truly happy when I catch one (though hopefully not bigger than his). Several times when he has been getting bump after bump and I am getting nothing, he asks me to use his pole and lure and spot. He was also very proud last year when he was able to untangle, unhook and release an undersized striper that he had caught through the fish’s mouth and out his gill.

By now most of you already know the history — that he and his brother fished the first derby 71 years ago with their dad, and that reportedly his dad weighed in the first fish at the first derby, kids in tow.

Ed embodies the derby in so many ways and has influenced so many kids, adults, men and women, one on one, to get out there and fish for the love of it and even for the competition. I’m so happy for him that he won the truck. I don’t think he has slept in weeks since getting on the leader board, and of course, fishing every day and night.

Somewhat poignantly, Ed had two big scares with major health issues in the past two years. The last one really knocked him for a loop; already tall and thin, he lost 40 pounds. He regained all his strength and vigor — clearly in my mind, as his friend and as a physician, because he needed to be ready for the derby. So what a crowning achievement. He truly deserves it for all the love and passion that he has put into it.

A well-known practicing plastic surgeon at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for 20 years and former Chilmark resident, Gary Fudem lives in Seattle, Wash., where he works in plastic surgery for the burn unit at the University of Washington/Harborview County Hospital. On the derby circuit, he was known simply as Doc.