Ron McKee has fished the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby for 40 years, but Sunday morning, opening day for the 72nd derby, was a first.

“First time, first fish,” he said.

Ron McKee gets the honor of weighing in the first fish - a 19.12 pound striped bass. — Mark lovewell

Mr. McKee was waiting at the door with a 19.12-pound striped bass when Roy Langley rang the bell to get the tournament underway.

“I started fishing at midnight,” Mr. McKee said. “I caught her at 12:45 a.m. My buddy Hawkeye always wanted to weigh the first fish in, and always seemed to miss it. I’ve been on the stage for the slams, second and third places. Never made the first place, always seemed to get bumped the last day. Big enough to weigh in, do it for Hawkeye.”

Mr. McKee said there was a little angling capitalism going on shortly after he landed the fish at a shoreline location he wouldn’t even offer a hint about.

“One of the guys wanted to buy my plug off the rod for 40 bucks,” Mr. Mckee said. “I’m serious.”

Edgartown harbor master Charlie Blair helps hold his son Taylor's striped bass. — Mark Lovewell

He didn’t make the sale.

The second fish to hit the scales under the watchful eye of derby chairman John Custer was a 3.79-pound bonito, caught by Tony Jackson.

“I knew right when I hooked it, I knew it was a bonito,” Mr. Jackson said. “I’ve had this bad luck thing with the bonito from shore. I’ll get them right in the last wave and boop, watch them swim away. Seems to be a lot of bonito around this year. I’ve seen a lot of big ones outside the harbor. Gary Look should be worried about his record with some of the fish I’ve seen. They look like bluefin tuna, they’re huge.”

Last year, only one bonito was weighed in for the shore division for the entire tournament. By mid-morning of opening day, six bonito had been weighed in.

Mr. Jackson said a change in his fishing routine brought him some luck.

Janet Messineo is on the board. — Mark Lovewell

“Normally, every derby I go out right at 12 a.m., right when it’s starting, for bass and bluefish, and stay up for the bonito and albies in the morning,” Mr. Jackson said. “Hasn’t really worked out for me with the bonito and albie part that first day so I decided to take the night off. Woke up at the crack of dawn, try to get out there to the happy hunting grounds before anybody else. It all worked out in my favor this time. This is the first bonito I’ve gotten from shore in the derby in 15 years. It was quite exciting to me. I’m still kind of shaking a little.”

For the first time in three years, the derby opened with favorable fishing weather. In opening remarks, derby president Ed Jerome noted the devastation of recent weather disasters, including Hurricane Irma. Overnight the powerful storm made a direct hit on the Florida Keys, a fishing hot spot familiar to many derby anglers.

“There’s things going on in this country, weatherwise, it’s a shame people have to go through what they’re going through,” Mr. Jerome said. “We’re going to dedicate this year’s tournament to all those people who are struggling, so please say a prayer for them.”

Follow all the derby action at the Gazette derby headquarters.