Good, Lucky and Hard Fishermen Win Top Prizes in the 54th Derby (Part 4)

By Nelson Sigelman

Derby a Hit Without Fish

Ed Jerome said that from the derby committee's standpoint the derby had been very successful. Registrations hit a new high at 2,819. "The derby is just gaining momentum," said Ed.

Asked if there was any talk about including derby registrations in any Island-wide DCPC moratorium he only laughed. Whatever it was that attracted the record number of derby fishermen it was not great fishing, particularly from the shore. Bluefish were scarce and bonito were scarcer. False albacore were found in some numbers, but few exceeded the derby's 25-inch minimum. Even the much anticipated fall run of big striped bass never seemed to materialize. But the hardworking derby chairman, Steve Morris, said that for most derby fisherman it is just enough to fish on Martha's Vineyard.

"Just being here, on the dock, the jetties, sitting on the beach all night; that's as much a draw as the derby," said Steve. "Clearly, the fishing doesn't have to be fantastic."

Some derby winners were clearly luckier than most. Ken Vanderlaske caught a 3.25-pound blue while fishing for false albacore in the last days of the derby. Ken said, "It was so small I could have mailed it in an envelope."

Still, he decided to weigh it in and with only one shore fly rod bluefish position filled he ended up in second place. Kevin Hearn of West Tisbury was both lucky and good. During a derby when most fly rodders were hard pressed to just hook a fish, Kevin, a skilled and secretive fly-fisherman, managed to land the heaviest bass and bluefish in both the shore and fly rod divisions. Ron McKee, shore, and Chris Chandler, boat, were the winners of the grand slam award, which goes to the fisherman who has the heaviest combined weight of all four species. Many derby fishermen say it is the true "fishing" award. Ron's schedule bears that out.

"I fished all day for bonito and albies, fished dusk for blues and night for bass," said Ron, who takes his vacation during the derby and averaged two to three hours of sleep. Young Tim Saver of Edgartown, who had helped out anglers young and old on Memorial Wharf, won the Forrest (Joe) Tomlinson award for the junior angler exhibiting sportsmanship and character. He beamed as the significance of his prize was explained.

Some fishermen added to the dinner table without catching prize-winning fish. For example, Jack Livingston of Chappaquiddick, executive chef at the Black Dog restaurant, was casting for albies when he felt a weight on his line. When he got it in it was a full head of broccoli. Don Mohr got to weigh in one fish throughout the whole derby and got his derby hat back. He had lost it in the spring when a wave knocked him off his bucket and the hat floated away. About a week and a half later Ken Zaiatz of Plymouth was fishing down the beach when he hooked what he thought was weed. It was a hat with a derby button. Ken turned it in to the weigh station this fall and Don got his hat back.