Notes On the 49th Derby (Part 2)

By Nelson Sigelman

Fishing during the first weeks of the derby was fair. Blues were scarce on the shore, stripers and bonito were around, and false albacore were nowhere to be seen. None of this daunted the kids who arrived at 6 a.m. for the annual kid's day tournament on the Oak Bluffs Steamship Wharf.

That day was clear and sunny as committee members weighed in everything from a barnacle encrusted rock to a bonito, with plenty of skates in between, but every kid went home feeling like a winner, which is really what the Kids' Mini-Derby is all about.

In a portent of bigger fish to come the first half of the derby saw a possible I.G.F.A. record bonito taken by Tricia Hague of Oak Bluffs. The fact that she caught and landed her 10.23 pound while fishing with her boyfriend, Gary BenDavid made it even more of an a accomplishment. That is no knock against Gary, who is a fine fly fisherman and great guy. It's just that I am in complete agreement with Cooper Gilkes, who advises that no boyfriend should ever try to teach his girlfriend fishing.

When the albies finally did show up they provided fast and furious action from Menemsha, where they stayed briefly, to Edgartown harbor, where a weekend blitz had the shore lined with fishermen.

On Monday morning of the last week of the derby, stripers hit along South Beach and it wasn't long before the news spread on the fishing network.

Also during the last week of the derby Gary Look caught a ***pound bonito on spinning gear from his boat off Cape Pogue light and set a new derby record and won the Grand Prize. And I caught a 10.81-pound bonito on my fly rod derby. Obviously, there were some fat bonito around.

My fish would turn out to take first place in the boat bonito fly rod category - my first winning fish in any derby. But the best prize of all came in the form of a card, written by my three-and-a-half- year- old daughter, and guided by my wife's hand, that read, "Daddy, I'm so proud of you for catching the big one. Love, Marlan."

The derby was over and I was reminded of a conversation I had when I picked up a hitchhiker. He noticed the fishing gear in the car and commented that, "Oh, you like to fish. That must be very relaxing."

I just laughed, turned to him and said, "Not the way we do it."

We often do fish the derby hard - long walks up the beach, late nights and early mornings. But fishing is not just about the craziness. It is starlit nights filled with the soft sounds of the ocean alone with your thoughts or shared moments with fishing companions.