Big bluefish were the key to the key ceremony at the Martha’s Vineyard Bass and Bluefish Derby, as the anglers who landed the biggest bluefish from shore and from a boat were the ones who were standing beside the grand prizes after a dramatic awards ceremony Sunday.

David Kadison of Vineyard Haven chose the key that popped open a padlock to win a Suburu Forrester SUV from Clay Suburu, and Paul Hoffman of West Tisbury chose the key that won him a new center console fishing boat from Cape Codder Boats.

“This feels really good,” said Mr. Kadison, a familiar name on the derby leader boards each year, moments after winning the SUV. “Like a weight off my shoulders.”

Paul Hoffman took home a new boat for his 13.08 pound bluefish caught from shore. — Timothy Johnson

Mr. Kadison often fishes with this three children, but it was his wife who was the first person he thanked.

“Our wedding anniversary is October 11,” he said. “I miss it every year. She doesn’t divorce me, I don’t know why. I have to thank my whole family. It feels so good.”

Later, standing next to his new vehicle outside the tent at Farm Neck Golf Club where the awards ceremony was held, Mr. Kadison said it was an unexpected catch that earned him top spot on the leader board with an 18.49 pound bluefish.

“I was actually fishing for bonito at the time, wasn’t thinking of bluefish,” Mr. Kadison said. “That’s the way it worked out that day. Got it to the boat, as soon as I saw how big it was, I got my gaff, I didn’t try bothering to net it. It was a good one.”

Paul Hoffman was equally ecstatic when his key turned the lock open.

John Custer offers a tribute to Maryanne Jerome, wife of Ed Jerome. — Timothy Johnson

“Unbelievable,” Mr. Hoffman said. “It’s an amazing event, it’s an amazing time. It brings this Island together in a way that nothing else does.”

Mr. Hoffman weighed in his 13.08 pound bluefish caught from shore early in the tournament. He said he has fished the derby for the past six years, and landing on the leader board turned out to be a little different experience than he expected.

“Historically, it’s a 15 pound fish that wins,” he said. “I was a nervous wreck for three weeks. I’ve always dreamed of being on the board, then I was just miserable for three weeks, until it held.”

The other grand leaders at the end of the annual fishing tournament were: boat striped bass, Stephen Pietruska, 39.20 pounds; shore striped bass, Ollie Becker, 37.69; pounds; boat bonito, Raymond Cabot, 11.75 pounds; shore bonito, Stephen Swayer Jr., 6.76 pounds; boat false albacore, Gary Look, 15.75 pounds; and shore false albacore, Ken Zaiatz, 12.85 pounds.

The derby awards ceremony was interspersed with emotional remembrances of Ed Jerome, the long time derby president who died unexpectedly in the second week of the five week tournament.

Farm Neck was packed for popular derby awards ceremony. — Timothy Johnson

The derby committee offered a touching tribute to Mr. Jerome’s widow Maryanne, who sat in the front row for the ceremony.

Former derby chairman John Custer recalled the days in 1986 when the derby was at a low point and Mr. Jerome stepped in.

“I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that we might not be here today, in fact the derby might not be here today, if not for Ed Jerome,” Mr. Custer said.

At first mention of Mr. Jerome’s name, the standing room only crowd offered a sustained round of applause. “In 1986, Ed was part of a group that literally saved the derby,” Mr. Custer continued. “There was a group, but Ed was clearly the leader. It’s now our collective responsibility to maintain and preserve this amazing event. Ed’s work over decades put the derby in this strong position.”

The next generation is now - Dill Kleeman is at the podium. — Timothy Johnson

Joe El-Deiry, in his first year as derby chairman, also offered a tribute to Mr. Jerome, remembering the awful day when word of his death spread among the derby committee.

“We held a meeting and shared memories of our friend,” Mr. El-Deiry said. “We agreed the best way to move forward was to make this a great derby, one that Ed would be proud of. We were encouraged to get back out on the water. It was what Ed would want, people said. It was not easy at first, but it became quite healing.”

A record 3,541 anglers signed up to fish the derby this year. Collectively they weighed in 1,406 fish, weight 13,594.03 pounds over the five week event