With about 10 minutes left in the derby, Logan R. Schaefer weighs in 18.17-pound shore bass to take mini junior lead. Alison L. Mead

Monday, October 16, 2017

The mood was celebratory Saturday night at derby headquarters in Edgartown, mixed with some anticipation. The 72nd annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby was drawing to an end, but anything could happen until the final bell, and the small building was packed to the gills as the minutes ticked away until 10 p.m.

Volkert Kleeman had held on to first place in one of the junior categories since the first week of the derby, when he weighed in a 8.93-pound boat bonito. One of his best friends, Zak Potter, had weighed in the second place bonito at 8:21 p.m. on the last day of the derby: Zak's fish was just .7 pounds behind Volkert's winner. His derby hat covered in pins, Volkert kept his eye on the weigh station until the last minute.

With less than 15 minutes left of the derby, Logan Schaefer walked in with a large bass slung over his shoulder. He made his way to the station and, after a few tries, slung the fish up on the counter. Mike Cassidy weighed it in: 18.17 pounds, the new mini junior winner for the shore striped bass. Logan got a round of applause from the crowd gathered at headquarters.

Saturday was also National Hug Capt. Eli Day at the derby headquarters, at least according to the signs affixed to pilings outside headquarters. The fillet station behind the sign was quiet Saturday — no fillets on the last day — but most other nights of the derby, this year and for several before, Eli Bonnell manned the station. This winter he will move to the west coast with his fiancee, and on Saturday well-wishers dropped by to say goodbye and good luck.

The clock ticked down and at 10 p.m. Victoria Scott rang the bell to cheers in the derby headquarters. Volkert's lead was safe. Derby volunteers had extra cause for celebration. Volunteer Trish Lyman, behind the merchandise table, was on the grand leaderboard with her winning boat albacore. Volunteer Kristy Rose was the weekly leader for her 13.25-pound shore bluefish.

The next day excitement continued at the awards ceremony at Farm Neck. Captain Eli Day continued as he was honored by the derby committee. Ms. Lyman was the winner of a new car. John Stasiuk won a new boat for his 29.61-pound shore bass. And dreams of the next derby began.

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