Derby Spirit Prevails in the End (Part 2)

By Nelson Sigelman

Winning Fishermen Hang In
There were no record fish, only record numbers of fishermen. A total of 2,825 fishermen, up more than 12 percent over last year. Some fishermen fished weekends, others fished every day, but a combination of skill, perseverance, and luck gave eight fishermen, those who caught the heaviest striped bass, bluefish, bonito, or false albacore from shore or boat, the opportunity to test their derby luck on the awards ceremony stage. Adam Rose, 18, of Edgartown, a senior at the regional high school, was the youngest grand leader and a crowd favorite. His shore albie and his nerves had held for weeks. Every day his friends would describe a bigger albie weighed in from the shore and every night Adam would check the leader board with a sigh of relief.

"It's the first time I won anything," said Adam as he waited for the start of the awards ceremony. Walter Wlodyka of Chilmark had fished every day except five days when he was ill, from late morning till dark, 10 to 12 hours a day. Wearing a derby hat with 10 fish pins, he said it was the first time in 23 derbies he would get onto the stage.

"I'm really excited," said Walter, who had the biggest boat albacore.

Bernie Arruda, of West Tisbury, the unofficial mayor of Memorial Wharf, a spot he rarely left throughout the derby and where he caught his winning shore bonito, adopted a calmer pose. Asked if he was nervous, he answered, "No, not a bit, I've been here before." But Chris Peters, of Oak Bluffs, who had the heaviest boat bonito, hadn't been there before, and he was exuberant after watching his fish hold up for two and a half weeks. But he gave credit for his success to the man that taught him to fish.

"I pretty much owe it to my grandfather, Earl Peters," said Chris.

Abram Williams of Pennsylvania was also feeling lucky. Two years ago his son had finished first for shore bluefish. As biblical looking as his name, with white hair and beard, he was fishing for stripers from shore when he caught an enormous 20.58-pound bluefish without a steel leader. Thinking it was a small bass, he had simply put the rod over his shoulder and dragged it up on the beach, leaving it little time to bite through his line.