Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby
New Hampshire advertising agency executive David Flood has produced a documentary on Vineyard life and the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.
The hour-long color film, Feeding the Water, will premiere today at 7 p.m. on MVTV and will run on the station through the remainder of the derby. Mr. Flood filmed for five weeks during the 2006 derby.
Roy Langley, weigh master for the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, will ring a cowbell at 8 a.m. sharp Sunday morning.
Once that cowbell rings, at the entrance to the official derby headquarters at the foot of Main street in Edgartown, the Vineyard will become an entirely different place.
From that moment on, derby participants can bring in their fish to be weighed in the month-long contest that galvanizes the Island every year.
With well over 2,000 fishermen competing in the 62nd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, the contest is now on the home stretch.
More than 13,000 pounds of striped bass, bluefish, bonito and false albacore have been weighed in at the derby headquarters so far.
Last weekend the evidence of interest could be seen along Vineyard shores, all populated by anglers with gear. The flat waters from Chappaquiddick to Aquinnah were crisscrossed with boiling waves from fast boats, driven by intent anglers.
One of the top striped bass caught in the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby this past week had a rough journey off and back onto the derby leader board.
On Sunday evening, Lev Wlodyka, 28, of Chilmark weighed in a 57.56 pound striped bass.
But the fish, it turns out, had ingested 1.68 pounds of lead prior to being caught.
This was a big surprise to Mr. Wlodyka, not to mention to derby officials. They quickly disqualified the fish. The decision upset Mr. Wlodyka, for he had caught the fish using a hooked eel.
For the casual fisherman, fishing the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby is like going from sandlot baseball to the major leagues.
He realizes that a welter of customs, laws of natures, tips and superstitions have developed over centuries of Island fishing and more than six decades of derby competition to create a mind-boggling fishing culture.
This casual fisherman felt that it would take an act of God to prepare him to compete with the best.
The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby is a folksy event that has also become a mature, sophisticated enterprise generating more than $2 million, perhaps as much as $3 million annually in shoulder season revenue for Island businesses.
“That’s why the derby was started. There was no shoulder season when the derby began as a chamber of commerce event,” derby president Ed Jerome said this week at the Wednesday morning weigh-in.
An architect from Connecticut and a mailman from Westport were the top winners in this year’s 63rd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.
On Sunday, Paul C. Harris of Oak Bluffs and Weston, Conn., won a new black Chevrolet 4x4 pickup truck for a 10.75-pound bonito he caught while fishing with friends earlier this month.
Scott D. Tompkins of Westport won a 20-foot center console Eastern powerboat for a 40.12-pound striped bass he caught fishing alone on an Up-Island shore in the early evening of Oct. 1.
At the derby station this morning Ed Jerome, president of the 63rd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, was not happy about the weekend forecast.
“It could blow up to 35 knots,” Mr. Jerome said.
Last weekend the anglers were discouraged by heavy rain. This weekend, there is a serious concern about high wind.
For boat fishermen that is not only tough it could be dangerous. Shore fishermen will flock to the lee side of the Island to get out of the wind.
Fewer fishermen and fewer fish — that has been the main theme for the 63rd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby this year. The fall premiere saltwater fishing contest has been affected this year both by the economy and the state of fish stocks. Participation is down.
The tournament that began in mid-September ends tomorrow night at 10 p.m. with the last weigh-in. As of Wednesday morning there were 2,674 fishermen registered in the contest, significantly down from last year’s 3,042 participants.
Fishing slowed to a trickle this past weekend for the participants in the 63rd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. And the rainy, windy weather didn’t help.
Some of the 2,000 anglers may have been out there, but few came home with dinner. Weighmaster Roy Langley said he weighed in half a dozen fish a day through the weekend. Mr. Langley shares weighmaster duties with Charlie Smith, who works the scales at night.