After a long night of clear skies, calm winds, shooting stars and plenty of fish, the bleary-eyed legions of the Island’s flyfishing community poured into the Edgartown School cafeteria Sunday morning to drink coffee, eat doughnuts and receive awards for the 28th annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Catch and Release Tournament.

Lela Gilkes and Todd Cascone enjoy a fish tale or two outside Coops Bait & Tackle. — Ray Ewing

With 201 fly fishermen registering for the tournament, hailing from Belgium to Texas, participation increased significantly from the previous year’s 110 registrations. The tournament began at 7 p.m. Saturday night and last cast was at 2 a.m. Sunday. After only seven hours with lines in the water, the group collectively caught and released 595 fish.

The awards ceremony featured an array of prizes, from flyrods to paintings, spread out on a table behind host and 28-year event participant Nelson Sigelman. But as Mr. Sigelman explained, it would not be those who caught the most, or even the largest fish, who would be taking home the prizes.

“It’s not about that,” he said.

Mr. Sigelman and Cooper Gilkes 3rd, owner of Coop’s Bait & Tackle and co-organizer of the event, have taken measures to quell the competitive aspect of the tournament in order to promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and fun — qualities that are important in fishing, but tend to be disregarded in competition.

“It’s about camaraderie,” Mr. Gilkes said. “Hopefully people go out and learn a thing or two about fishing, too.”

The camaraderie of the event was apparent in the democratic system of changing rules and regulations.

Tournament organizers Nelson Sigelman (left) and Cooper Gilkes 3rd. — Ray Ewing

“We all recognize the striped bass are having a problem,” Mr. Sigelman said before making a motion to allow only barbless hooks in next year’s tournament.

As the tournament is catch and release, one of the goals of the event is to promote the health and sustainability of the fish population. Barbless hooks, Mr. Gilkes explained after the event, “make it easier to get the hook out, and saves on the fish.”

The motion was collectively passed. However, the group did not pass the motion to raise the entrance fee, which Mr. Sigelman said would upgrade the annual breakfast from doughnuts to eggs. The fishermen decided to stick with their doughnuts, and maintain the entrance fee at an affordable $35 for the following year.

After the vote, several thousand dollars worth of prizes were awarded in a lottery system, selected by pulling registration slips at random from a box. As many of the tournament’s participants donated prizes themselves, the awards ceremony was more of a potluck than a competition; once again promoting the camaraderie of the event.

Nonetheless, winners of the tournament were still acknowledged for their efforts; many of whom had only slept an hour or two after fishing the entire tournament.

The Sonny and Joey Beaulieu Trophy, awarded for the largest fish caught and released, went to David Thompson, who reeled in a 35-inch striped bass with a girth of 18.5 inches.

The Roberto Germani Trophy, for the most fish caught, was awarded to Tyler Meyst and Anthony Marcantonio, of Team Just the Tippet, who caught and releasing 51 fish.

The tournament is in its 28th year. — Ray Ewing

The Arnold Spofford Award, for most fish caught using only one fly, went to Jim Lepore, Sandra Demel and John Kollett, of Team No Name, who reeled in 55 fish reeled on the same fly.

The winners were awarded a plaque to commemorate their efforts. And for anyone who didn’t win, Mr. Sigelman said, “you can get one on Ebay for $1.85.”

Then everybody won when Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee, wielding bagpipes and wearing a kilt, led two participants in a Scottish Sword Dance. Traditionally, the dancers jig over a pair of crossed swords. In this case however, two eight-foot fishing rods took the place of the swords. The dancers were awarded the rods for their participation in the annual tradition.