Despite a foggy morning, which promised a slow start to the 78th Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, Kevin Seger was waiting patiently in line at 8 a.m. Sunday, having caught a bonito early that morning before the opening bell.

“I caught a fish, ran to my truck and got here as fast as I could,” Mr. Seger said.

Mr. Seger’s bonito weighed in at 3.46 pounds, cementing its status as first fish of this year’s derby. Shortly thereafter, William Moody brought in a 9.03-pound false albacore.

Jim Cornwell (left) rings the opening bell at 8 a.m. and John Custer, derby committee president, applauds. — Ray Ewing

The opening bell this year was rung this by longtime angler Jim Cornwell.

Derby committee president John Custer said he hadn’t picked an opening bell ringer when he drove down to headquarters Sunday morning but then spotted Mr. Cornwell, who has been fishing the derby since 1948, walking by.

Who better to ring in this year’s first weigh-in, Mr. Custer thought.

“Jim is a long-time derby angler, a gentleman, someone who fishes the derby the way we want people to fish the derby,” Mr. Custer said. “He fishes hard, he enjoys it, but he also shows others what the derby experience is all about.”

Foggy morning made for a slow first day. — Ray Ewing

Mr. Cornwell began fishing the derby when he was 12 years old. Seventy five years later he is still at it, twice making it to the award stage — in 2002 with a 9.27-pound bonito and a few years later with an 11.56-pound false albacore. His two sons return from off-Island to join him in fishing the last week of the derby every year.

Grinning under a cap adorned with lures and derby pins, the longtime angler revealed his best kept secret: where to find the best fishing.

“On the beach,” Mr. Cornwell said.

Weigh-in volunteer Mike Cassidy said he anticipated the slow start. The fog that descended on the Island early last night kept boat fisherman ashore, and anglers who cast off from the beach weren’t likely to have much luck until the day’s mid-morning high tide, Mr. Cassidy said.

Inside the weigh-in station. — Ray Ewing

The small crowd gathered at derby headquarters Sunday morning was primarily made up of volunteers. Among them was Taylor Pierce, who began fishing the derby at four year old with his grandfather, derby legend Red Ward.

“My grandfather picked us up from school, we drove down to the boat, fished until dark, went home, tried to do homework, then come to weigh-in, then do it all over again,” Mr. Pierce said.

Not a lot of action today on the beach. — Ray Ewing

This morning, Mr. Pierce brought his pajama-clad daughter, two-year-old Rowan, to continue the family legacy. Rowan has yet to hold her own rod, but this year marks her third derby as angler number 118. Her father first registered Rowan when she was three months old to secure number 118, the same number he was assigned during his first job as a sales associate at Larry’s Tackle Shop. A family affair, Mr. Pierce serves on the committee, and his seven-month-old son Tucker is registered for his first derby this year.

“This is something to do as a family,” Mr. Pierce said. “It teaches you patience and it shows you what putting in time and hard work does. If you put in the time and the work, it usually pays off.”

The derby continues through Oct. 14. Weigh-ins are 8 to 10 a.m. each morning and 7 to 9 p.m. each evening at the Edgartown dock. Visit

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