It was still dark when young fisherfolk cast their first lines off the Oak Bluffs ferry wharf for the annual Kids Derby. At 6 a.m. it was not yet bright, but certainly early.

The Kids Derby had been scheduled for two weeks ago but had to be postponed because of bad weather. Then the rescheduled date had to be rescheduled again because of bad weather.

Finally, despite cold winds and overcast skies, the event went forward this Sunday morning. The children's enthusiasm ran high as the shouts, squeals and exclamations of joy among the young fishermen rose above the rhythmic din of ocean crashing against pier and beach.

A long queue had formed at the measuring station soon after the competition opened.

Henry Jackson and Michael Jackson with the winning black sea bass. — Ray Ewing

“I don’t know what kind of fish this is,” said Isabella Francis-Espino, who waited in line to get a black sea bass measured in the eight-year-old and under age bracket. Isabella would submit five fish in total that morning. Her secret, she said, was her dad’s supply of “ginormous bait.”

Thatcher Sprague, who stood in line holding a scup behind Isabella, had a similar story.

“My dad got this giant eel, and I cast it down, and I got the fish,” he said.

Thatcher insisted that his catch was, in fact, a striped bass, evinced by a strip halfway down the fish.

All down the pier, fishing poles bobbed and swayed, many taller by two or three times than the young fishermen who held them. Nearby, parents nursed hot coffee and prepped bait for their children's next cast.

When a pair of fishing lines became tangled, two dads entered the complicated dance required to separate the lines, ducking under and shuffling behind each other.

Scup and black sea bass were both in high supply, but the elusive fluke did not make an appearance. A slack tide towards the end of the morning, however, did bring in some of the more unusual fish species.

Tatum Merrill (left) with a black sea bass. — Ray Ewing

Johnny Roriz reeled in a 17-inch sand shark. Asked how he managed to catch such a specimen, Johnny only replied with an “um,” closely guarding his technique.

A last-minute pufferfish was also submitted to the measuring table, after which organizer Cooper Gilkes 3rd entertained the crowd by tickling the fish’s belly, impelling it to puff up.

“What a catch,” Mr. Gilkes said.

As a few of the older contestants combed through a cooler full of sand eels looking for the fattest bait, derby committee member Joe El-Deiry triggered the siren on his megaphone, declaring the five-minute warning for submissions. A crowd soon gathered for Mr. El-Deiry to announce the results.

“Thank you all for coming,” he said, “It wasn’t perfect weather, but we made it happen.”

Eagerly awaiting the awards ceremony. — Ray Ewing

All the winning fish that morning, Mr. El-Deiry said, were black sea bass.

In the eight and under division, Hazel Cooper placed third with a 17.5-inch bass, Tatum Merrill came in second with an 18-inch and Allyssa O’Donnell came in first with an 18.5-inch fish.

In the 9 to 11 division, Calvin Davins came in third at 16.25 inches, Jacob O’Donnell was second at 16.5 and Madeline Ward’s 16.75-inch bass won first place.

In the 12 to 14 bracket, Amanda Desouza came in third with a 16.5-inch bass, Jaden Fuller was second with an 18-inch bass and Brett Sylvester won first place with his 18-inch bass.

Henry Jackson was the grand leader of the day with an 18.5-inch black sea bass.

Longtime derby fishermen Janet Messineo took a wider perspective on the awards.

“Every kid is a winner,” she declared.