When the days turn cooler and get a little shorter, and the summer crowds have thinned out, the local spring to life for a most beloved autumn tradition. The 64th Annual Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby has begun, running from September 13th to October 17th. Friends gather in their favorite places, spending long days on the water – sometimes squeezing in time before or after work and oftentimes taking a vacation time after a long and hard-worked summer. Stories are made, tales are spun, but most importantly, fish are caught!
You can register online or stop by Coop’s Bait & Tackle, Dick’s Bait & Tackle, or Larry’s Tackle to pick up your credentials. For more information, visit the Derby’s website where you can also keep tabs on the front runners and daily news concerning the derby and the Vineyard.
The derby was started just after World War II and today it brings in fishermen from all over the world with participation reaching 2,000 in recent years. According to 1987’s derby president Ed Jerome, “From the informal committee-type approach, we’ve gone towards the formal non-profit structure. This is a tournament run for and by fishermen. It now takes the derby a full year to organize. From the organizational standpoint the new derby begins just as the old one draws to a close.”
And, there’s a new mission that is very Vineyard, in light of its dedication to giving back. Since 1987, the derby has given $64,000 in scholarships to Island high school graduates.
Some derby rules to remember:
Ice Your Catch: Donations to our fillet program MUST be iced.
Respect The Island: Pack out trash and obey private property signs.
Respect The Fish: Carefully and quickly release all fish you do not weigh in.
Know The Rules: Be aware of MA fishing regs and Derby Rules/Boundaries.
This year, I’m proud to say, is the first year that I’ve entered a fish in the derby! Total thrill!