Phil Horton is a shore guy, a surf caster who has been fishing the Derby for 35 years. He remembers when you could throw anything in the water underhanded and the bluefish would just devour it.

“It was kind of crazy, we all thought we were great fishermen but there were just so many bluefish around,” he said with a laugh.

Back when Mr. Horton first entered the Derby, registration numbers were around 1,200 anglers. This year he became chairman of the Derby committee that runs the show for the nearly 3,000 participants in this year’s edition of the Island tradition.

Mr. Horton wasn’t always a saltwater fisherman. Before he bought his second home on the Island 40 years ago, freshwater was more his speed. However, after a few trips out to Wasque and Norton Point, he was hooked.

Macallan Moran on the Edgartown gas dock. — Ray Ewing

“I bought a four-wheel-drive vehicle and that was the beginning of the end,” he said.

Before long Mr. Horton found himself volunteering at the Derby headquarters filet table after spending his nights rock hopping from the old bass stand at Squibnocket. From the filet table and by the water he’s also watched the Derby and the Island change — one of the best changes, he said, is the addition of albies and bonito in the competition.

“I like fishing for albies and bonito, it gave me something to do during the day when I wasn’t night fishing … they’re a hoot to catch,” Mr. Horton said.

In 2013, he joined the Derby committee at the repeated suggestion of his friend Chuck Hodgkinson. Since joining the committee, Mr. Horton has helped play an important role in the filet distribution program to the Island senior centers, and for the past eight years he has put together the booklet given to every Derby entrant.

Since becoming chairman he’s handed the booklet responsibility off and become more of an overseer of essentially everything, something Mr. Horton said is possible thanks to the hard work of his fellow committee members.

“It’s a great group of people, just an amazing group that is so dedicated to making this thing a success.”

“I’ve got a great job, I really do,” Mr. Horton continued. “It’s such a dedicated and hardworking group of people, they make my job easy.”

So far this year, Mr. Horton said everything is going well and he’s been impressed with the number of fish coming into the weigh station. “The weigh-ins look good, in particular the bonitos and albie numbers are strong.”

“There are some massive bones coming in off the boat,” he continued. “I weighed in the new grand leader on Sunday night, it was just a remarkable fish, just huge.”

Derby continues through Oct. 15. — Larry Glick

The man who caught the 10.86-pound, boat division leading bonito Sunday is Peter Crabtree, a devoted Derby participant from Manchester-by-the-Sea. It’s Mr. Crabtree’s first time landing a leading fish and he said the experience was extra special for him because he was fishing with his longtime friend and fishing partner of 25 years, Zac Horrocks.

“It was by far the largest bonito I’ve ever caught,” Mr. Crabtree said. “We were actually targeting false albacore at the time but the bonito took my lure so we were surprised to see it as it got closer to the boat and really excited when we saw the size of it.”

Mr. Crabtree said the bonito took off like an albie but then did a full circle around the boat, leaving him and Mr. Horrocks scrambling to make sure his line didn’t get caught in their outboards. When he hooked up, Mr. Crabtree said their boat was smack in some ripping currents and the fish might have been tired from fighting against it.

“It wasn’t as crazy a fight you’d think a 10-pound bonito would give you but it was still a really good fight,” Mr. Crabtree said.

As of Wednesday night, joining Mr. Crabtree on the leaderboard is David Kadison with an 18.06-pound, boat caught bluefish; Gavin Smith with a 15.79-pound shore bluefish; Steven Wood with a 7.58-pound shore bonito; Mark Leonard with a 16.52-pound boat albacore; and Matthew Strem with a 13.28-pound shore albacore.