Last month, I began home schooling my two boys Owen and Rye (ages 10 and 7) in something I knew virtually nothing about: the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. Since the fisherman in the family (a.k.a. dad) was usually stuck at work, this left the three of us out there on the jetty trying to figure things out for ourselves.

During official “school” mornings, we might read Ed Jerome’s (my former boss) fishing books, dissect a bluefish, study fishing guides, view the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s online derby exhibit, interview seasoned fishermen or learn about video editing for our “vlog,” something my 10-year-old wanted to create to share his enthusiasm for the subject.

Looking back, I realize some lessons were more concrete than others and we all took away something different.

Like a woman choosing jewelry, derby fish have their own lure preferences. Sometimes bonito prefer lures accompanied with neon orange feathery attachments called spinners. Different lures like to be reeled with their own special touch. One might be jerky and speedy with a little metal one while a big white one could call for a slow ride to work its magic. Certain lures can be especially “hot” some years. Among this year’ top picks was a pink jig made by a regional company called “Grey Lady.”

We learned the sad way that a hot spot one night may be dead the next. We learned the hard way what to bring — a bucket for starters! Our first night, we drove home with a bluefish between the boys in the backseat. We gagged and laughed the whole way home with all the windows open on a chilly fall evening. Still, it soon became apparent we needed a car that would accommodate our new hobby — we actually purchased said vehicle mid-derby. What a relief to not be driving with three poles tickling my right ear as we cruise up-Island. And thank goodness we started dedicating a pile of “fishing clothes” as things were starting to get pretty stinky around here.

What fun it was to discover that our family could fit in a little fishing after soccer practice or that we all shared to the urge to fish on a cool, misty October night.

While waking the kids and readying them for school was once painstaking, my boys had no problem waking in the dark and getting out the door to fish by 5:45 a.m. They would be running onto the Menemsha jetty, poles in hand, before I had the car in park. One tug on the line could give us all the encouragement we needed to wake up early for the next week.

What most surprised me was how much I fell for fishing the derby. For my birthday, the boys got me a fishing pole. My 10-year-old attached my new reel and lure to the pole which thrilled me to watch. I never thought I’d ask to go fishing to celebrate my birthday, but there we were that night, my mother-in-law too, taking in the sunset and casting into the calm evening. Another homeschooling derby mom we met from Texas who has been living on-Island in a camper came by with her seven-year-old to share the night with us.

I learned how lovely the fall weather is here. I always felt like the months between September and May were the “off-season” ­— times meant for making soups and fires. Giving up my blankets and bestsellers meant making space for the stars and sea. Maybe what I loved was getting outside of my comfort zone and feeling like the Island I have lived on since 2004 still holds brand new experiences. What gratitude I feel for having witnessed my boys reeling in their catches, electric with joy. On the note of gratitude, I feel an ocean of it for all the Derby volunteers.

The mom in me will also admit I relished the evenings at Dogfish Bar where the waves were so loud we couldn’t hold conversations. The moon there was so bright and mesmerizing that on some nights I had to lay down on the damp sand to take it in.

When I first imagined our derby study, I’ll admit I briefly envisioned the kids on the beach and me sitting in my car reading a Kindle. I couldn’t have been more off.

Moira Convey Silva lives in West Tisbury.