Derby Spirit Prevails in the End (Part 3)

By Nelson Sigelman

Fishy Finale for Some Anglers
But not all grand leaders escaped a close call. John Brochu of Edgartown caught a 46.9-pound striper late at night that would have eclipsed the 43.71-pound fish caught by Scott Jadovich of West Simsbury, Conn. John, in a rush to go fishing, had put off buying his derby button. But he did the right thing and remained a winner. Scott, looking at the other fishermen he would share the stage with, said, "It's a real honor to be among these fishermen." Asked if he was nervous, he admitted, "I'm shaking." He had caught his fish on a Saturday and missed a ferry reservation the next morning to weigh it in. He had not expected his fish, small by derby standards, to hold the lead. But his wife encouraged him and said it would.

"She was right," he said with a smile.

Donald Widdiss of Aquinnah had caught his 52.41-pound boat bass the first week of the derby. The last week of the derby an Oak Bluffs man weighed in a fish that weighed approximately 57 pounds. But when it was examined according to derby procedures, to the surprise of everyone, including the fisherman, less than two pounds of frozen bait was discovered stuffed inside. The fish, which would have easily taken over the lead, was disqualified. For details, see the accompanying sidebar. Fred Collins, a resident of Edgartown, had caught a 16.54-pound boat bluefish. But one week before the derby ended, and again on the last day of the derby, a Connecticut man arrived by taxi at the weigh station with heavier boat bluefish in a cooler. Both fish were disqualified, the last just hours before the ceremony. On Sunday committee members spoke about the problems that had threatened this derby in quiet tones unwilling to dampen the excitement of all the fishermen and their supporters crowded into the room. When it came time to begin, Ed Jerome, derby president (and Edgartown School principal when he is not out fishing), welcomed everyone and pointed to the record number of registrants.

"That included 300 youngsters," said Ed to enthusiastic applause, "and that is a great thing for the future."

During the presentation of senior awards Jerry Jansen of New York, and Bob Boren of Vineyard Haven were presented with jackets honoring more than 50 years of derby fishing. Jerry, a former Marine who was twice wounded in the Pacific, had fished the derby since 1947. Asked to say a few words Jerry said it takes "patience and fortitude" to be a good fisherman.

"If you haven't got that," he said, "you're not a surf fisherman." The 84-year-old derby fishermen added, "I never won the derby, never will. But I'll always remember it and never forget it." Later in a lottery drawing open to all derby entrants, Jesse Talbot of Sharon won a two year lease for a 1999 Chevy Tahoe donated by the Clay family, Chappy fishermen and auto dealers. But the moment everyone was waiting for came when one by one, the eight grand leaders each picked a key and inserted it into a lock held up next to a microphone by Ed Jerome.