The 67th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby officially ended at 10 pm Saturday with the ringing of the weigh station bell. Amid the sound of cheers there was a great sigh of relief.
Three of the eight grand leaders that made it over the finish line took early leads in the six-week contest and watched the daily results with nail-biting anxiety.
Pat Jenkinson of West Tisbury, the boat false albacore division leader, and Morgan Taylor of Chilmark, the boat division leader, and bluefish boat division leader Adam Cummings of Tisbury led from the first week.
Julian Pepper of Edgartown added the needed drama and a photo finish when he caught the winning shore bonito on the last day of the Derby. His fish earned him a spot on stage.
In a contest that has seen 40-pound plus striped bass routinely bumped, Tony H. Rezendes Jr. of West Tisbury punched his ticket to walk up on the Derby stage with a 32.12-pound bass he caught the second week, the second smallest fish to qualify as a grand leader in contest history.
Stephen Pietruska, a seasonal West Tisbury resident and commercial fisherman who topped the boat striped bass division, was familiar with Derby drama and luck.
In 2009, he caught a 44.68-pound striped bass on the first day of the Derby that was still the leading fish on the last day. Only three years later, he was back on stage with a 44.40-pound bass.
In 2012, there were 315 shore bass weighed in, and only 151 boat bass.
On Sunday afternoon four boat grand leaders and four shore grand leaders stood on stage ready for the final bit of drama. One would win a new truck and one would win a new boat.
The long and the short of the 67th Derby was that Robert J. Boyhan of California, a seasonal visitor and the last man in the row walked off stage the owner of a new Eastern outboard boat, motor, and trailer courtesy of the Derby and Eastern boats. And Adam Cummings, a new father who barely had any time to fish, also the last man in the row, won a new Chevrolet Silverado truck, courtesy of the Derby and the Clay Family dealerships.
Of fish and fishermen
Sunday afternoon, before a raucous and cheering crowd of fishermen, Derby winners and supporters gathered under the big top at the Farm Neck Golf Course in Oak Bluffs for the dramatic awards ceremony.
“This was one for the record books,” Ed Jerome, longtime Derby president, told the crowd, citing record participation, great weather, good fishing and a dramatic finish — all the ingredients needed for a Derby. “After 67 years I can honestly say the Derby’s getting better,” Ed said.
A total of 3,091 fishermen entered the 35-day contest that began on September 9. By its conclusion, they had caught and weighed in 1,144 bluefish, 226 bonito, 311 false albacore and 466 striped bass from shore and boat, using conventional tackle and fly tackle.
Charlie Smith of Edgartown, longtime Derby weighmaster, handled a good share of those fish. On Sunday, the committee announced that after 19 years on the job he took over in 1993, Charlie Smith was stepping down.
“Charlie likes making youngsters feel special when they weigh in a fish,” said Derby chairman Chuck Hodgkinson.
Charlie, a man who distributes his words carefully, walked up on stage to receive a plaque honoring him for his contribution. Bailen Darack, 4, walked up and gave him a big hug, as she had every time she weighed in a fish.
“Thank you,” said Charlie as he lifted mini-junior Bailen up to the podium with the strong, tattooed arm that had lifted so many youngster’s fish onto the scale. “This is what it’s all about, the future.”
Also honored, was Ray Ellis, noted Edgartown artist and the creator of the Derby print series, now in its 25th and final year. The sale of prints, Ed said, had raised almost half a million dollars and helped fund scholarships for more than 50 Island graduates.
“We salute you, we honor you and we thank you Ray,” Ed said.
The 91-year-old artist stepped to the stage. “I want to tell you that the last 25 years have been a labor of love,” Mr. Ellis said. “I never had any project, and I’ve had quite a few, but this one has touched my heart and I just want to say that the last 25 years have gone so fast that I think the next 25 will go even faster.”
And he provided a bit of news. All 25 paintings would appear in a book that would describe the history of the Derby. “It’s going to be quite a book,” he said.
With the formalities over it was time to hand out the awards. One by one, young fishermen and old walked up to the stage and walked off with plaques and prizes. For most, it was enough to be on stage and claim a piece of Derby glory.
Sherry Mele screamed at the top of her lungs each time a member of the Memorial Wharf contingent walked up on stage. Also known online as “squid mama,” the moniker does not do justice to her Doris Day looks. “Wharf rat! wharf rat!” she screamed when Robert Thomas walked up to claim a prize for shore bonito. Roland advised her to calm down. “I can’t help it,” Sherry said as she let out another whoop. “I’m so happy for him.”
On Sunday, the Dalai Lama was in Cambridge. If he had come to Martha’s Vineyard to fish he might have wanted to chat with Julian Pepper.
The grand slam award is acknowledged as the toughest challenge in the Derby. Catch all four species. Total weight determines the winner. Do it from shore and there is no question, you are one tough fisherman.
In his introduction to the award presentations, committee member Wilson Kerr told the story of a fisherman, Chris Adler, who left a very expensive rod and reel on the beach in Gay Head. Chris considered offering a reward for its return but was told that the kind of person who would return it would not be motivated by cash. Chris agreed and told Wilson, “I hope whoever finds it has some good karma in the Derby.”
Julian, who works at Larry’s Tackle when he is not fishing, found the rod and contacted the Derby to return it. On the last day of the Derby, he caught an 8.22 pound bonito that propelled him into first place in the shore grand slam.
The Derby is several contests squeezed into one big fishing contest. There are divisions for kids, littler kids, adults, and seniors. Fly rodders have a separate division. There are special awards that honor sportsmanship, family values, and Island residency.
No matter the age or choice of tackle, the fisherman who caught the heaviest bonito, false albacore, bluefish or striped bass from shore or boat was the grand leader, king of his or her piscatorial hill.
One by one Sunday afternoon the eight grand leaders in the shore and boat divisions took the stage. They were: boat bluefish, Adam Cummings (16.06); shore bluefish, Robert J. Boyhan (15.39); boat bass, Stephen J. Pietruska (44.40); shore bass, Tony H. Resendes Jr. (32.12); boat bonito, Andrew M. Wheeler (10.29); shore bonito, Julian G. Pepper (8.22); boat albacore, Patrick T. Jenkinson, (12.75); and shore albacore, Morgan T. Taylor (13.22).
Every Derby, Ed Jerome explains the same process to eight fishermen, who, as they try to grasp the details, resemble eight deer caught in the headlights of a Mack truck. This Sunday, it was no different.
Each man in the shore and boat divisions would draw a number from one to four. That number would determine the order in which he would draw a key. If his key opened the padlock Ed held next to a microphone, that man would be the winner of the grand prize.
Literally and figuratively, the Derby went down to the end. First up were the shore winners. No click; no click; no click. When it came time for Ed to insert Robert Boyhan’s key into the lock everyone in the tent knew what to expect: click!
Next up was the boat division. No click; no click; no click. Once again, the outcome was not in doubt. Adam Cummings began to celebrate.
How did those who came close feel? Julian said he was not disappointed. He won the shore grand slam, and he said with a smile, his co-worker Morgan did not win the boat either.
Tony Rezendes, owner of the Square Rigger restaurant, and his son and chef Dana fish the Derby together. It had been a good Derby. Asked about any father-son competition, Dana said that when his dad catches a big fish he feels like he caught it too.
Outside the tent next to his new boat, Robert Boyhan, 64, from California and his brother, Peter Boyhan, 67, from New Jersey savored what they said was an unexpected victory. Every year, for the past 27 years, the brothers have traveled to Martha’s Vineyard to fish the Derby together.
“This is the first year, because I’m semi-retired, that I was able to come for the whole Derby,” Robert said. “And we spent five weeks fishing our brains out.”
Asked what is special about fishing the Derby with his brother, Peter said, “Everything, the whole Derby.”
The 67th Derby was over.
Gone Fishin’ concludes for another season. Thank you all.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Tony Rezendes’ shore bass was the smallest in Derby history. In 2010, Paul Stamos took first place for shore bass with a 31.87 pound striper.
67th Derby Final Results
Boat bluefish: Adam Cummings, 16.06*
Shore bluefish: Robert J. Boyhan, 15.39*
Boat bass: Stephen J. Pietruska, 44.40
Shore bass: Tony H. Rezendes, Jr., 32.12
Boat bonito: Andrew M. Wheeler, 10.29
Shore bonito: Julian G. Pepper, 9.22
Boat albacore: Patrick T. Jenkinson, 12.75
Shore albacore: Morgan T. Taylor, 13.22
Boat bass: (1) Stephen J. Pietruska, 44.40; (2) Sean D. Ready, 39.61; (3) Pete J. Spengler, 37.34. Shore bass: (1) Tony H. Rezendes, Jr., 32.12; (2) Morgan T. Taylor, 31.42; (3) Will M. Powell, 31.05. Boat bonito: (1) Andrew M. Wheeler, 10.29; (2) Edwin W. Holden, III, 8.95; (3) Patrick T. Jenkinson, 8.65. Shore bonito: (1) Julian G. Pepper, 8.22; (2) Eric R. Brown, 8.09; (3) Robert W. Thomas, 7.86. Boat bluefish: (1) Adam Cummings, 16.06; (2) David C. Kadison, 15.51; (3) Sandy E. Fisher, 15.32. Shore bluefish: (1) Robert J. Boyhan, 15.39; (2) Will H. Powell, 14.16; (3) Roger A. Schaefer, 13.68. Boat albacore: (1) Patrick T. Jenkinson, 12.75; (2) Fran L. Clay, 12.43; (3) Holly J. Mercier, 12.35. Shore albacore: (1) Morgan T. Taylor, 13.22; (2) Robert W. Garrison, 12.84; (3) Julian G. Pepper, 12.22.
Boat bass: (1) David W. Rimmer, 20.96; (2) Everett K. Bramhall, 15.79; (3) W. Brice Contessa, 14.35. Shore bass: (1) Bob H. Clay, 15.05 (2) David W. Skok, 14.18; (3) Joe A. Dart. 13.45. Boat bonito: (1) Terry W. Horrocks, 6.53; (2) Bob W. Hayman, 5.19; (3) Zachary C. Horrocks, 5.18. Boat bluefish: (1) Jaime H. Boyle, 10.88; (2) Zachary C. Horrocks, 8.16; (3) W. Brice Contessa, 8.08. Shore bluefish: (1) David W. Skok, 6.61; (2) Tim P. Sheran, 5.79; (3) Jared Hull, 4.95. Boat albacore: (1) Bryan P. Donohoe, 12.45; (2) Zachary C. Horrocks, 9.74; (3) Harley L. Stowell, 9.36. Shore albacore: (1) Jared Hull, 12.69; (2) Cooper A. Gilkes, 10.66; (3) Seth A. Nickerson, 10.04.
Junior Division (All tackle)
Boat bass: (1) Brendan R. Morris, 23.78; (2) Luke El-Deiry, 23.60; (3) Julian Carter, 22.76. Shore bass: (1) Matthew T. Barber, 17.06; (2) Christopher T. Ferry, 16.37; (3) Macol Oliveira, 16.12. Boat bonito: (1) Christopher A. Mayhew, 8.32; (2) Wyatt A. Jenkinson, 7.97; (2) Victoria T. Scott, 7.58. Shore bonito: (1) Tommy White, 7.65. Boat bluefish: (1) Chesca Potter, 14.59; (2) Victoria T. Scott, 13.89; (3) Joseph L. Serpa, 13.73. Shore bluefish: (1) Michael J. Gibson, 11.27; (2) Lucas S. Dutton, 10.30; (3) Abigail E. O’Connell, 9.95. Boat albacore: (1) Dylan C. Kadison, 9.28; (2) Joseph L. Serpa, 8.28; (3) Katherine G. O’Brien, 7.88 Shore albacore: (1) Hunter B. Ponte, 7.93; (2) Quinn Keefe, 7.69; (3) Christopher Hillemeir, 6.68.
Mini Junior Division (all tackle)
Boat bass: (1) Mason Warburton, 14.66; (2) Camden J. Napior, 14.50; (3) Chelsea Bouchard, 14.19. Shore bass: (1) Jacob Scott, 25.78; (2) Ryan C. Harding, 10.79. (3) Jack M. Marshard, 11.10. Boat bonito: (1) Mason Warburton, 7.43; (2) Aran D. Dwane, 5.08. Boat bluefish: (1) Tate A. Buchwald, 13.55; (2) Mason Warburton, 13.23; (3) Sawyer M. Schaefer, 13.09. Shore bluefish: (1) Jack A. O’Connell, 10.25; (2) Jack M. Marshard, 9.81; (3) Noah R. Smith, 4.56. Boat albacore: (1) Julia Sayre, 8.79; (2) Aran D. Dwane, 8.76; (3) Wyatt O. Nicholson, 8.23. Shore albacore: (1) Noah R. Smith, 8.07; (2) Anthony Hern, 6.66.
Grand Slam results
Boat All Tackle: 1. David C. Kadison (Bluefish 15.51; bonito 6.68, albacore 9.64, bass, 35.30); total 67.13. 2. John Ready (Bluefish 13.98; bonito 7.17; albacore 9.73; bass 29.74); total 60.62. 3. Mark S. Morris (Bluefish 13.79; bonito 7.53; albacore 6.68; bass 30.08); total 58.08.
Shore All Tackle: 1. Julian G. Pepper (Bluefish 6.50; bonito 8.22; albacore 12.22; bass 24.22); total 51.16. 2. Jared Stobie (Bluefish 4.94; bonito 6.94; albacore 6.23; bass 20.83); total 38.94. 3. Shawn A. Emin (Bluefish 6.71; bonito 4.68; Albacore 9.00; bass 13.88); total 34.27.
Boat Flyrod: 1. W. Brice Contessa (Bluefish 8.08; bonito 4.79; albacore 8.21; bass 14.35); total 35.43.
Junior Boat All Tackle: 1. Brendan R. Morris (Bluefish 13.08; bonito 6.41; albacore 7.52; bass 23.78); total 50.79. 2. Dylan C. Kadison (Bluefish 13.52; bonito 6.41; albacore 9.28; bass 18.47); total 47.68. 3. Tyler K. DuFresne (Bluefish 11.32; bonito 5.79; albacore 7.62; bass 21.81); total 46.54.
2012 Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby Special Presentations and Awards
Senior Grand Leader Awards
Madison Alwardt Memorial (bluefish): Boat, Antone Bettencourt; Shore, Ron Domurat
Ray Metcalf Memorial (striped bass): Boat, Pete Spengler; Shore, Tony Rezendes
Arnold Spofford Memorial (bonito): Boat, Whit Holden; Shore, Kathi Pagoda
Howard Leonard Memorial (false albacore): Boat, Fran Clay; Shore, Cooper Gilkes
Top Rod Award, awarded to the individual who has won the highest number of daily pins at the close of the derby. One junior winner, and one winner in the All Tackle division: boat: David Kadison; shore: Ron Domurat; Junior boat: Brendan Morris; Junior shore: Ryan Harding.
Wayne Jackson Memorial Award for the heaviest fish caught by a junior: Jacob Scott
Victor Danberg Trophies, for the heaviest bluefish caught by a junior boy: Joseph L. Serpa; for the heaviest bluefish caught by a junior girl: Chelsea Bouchard.
Dr. David Finkelstein Award, in Memory of Bob Post for the Shore Team Competition winners: “Aqua Culture” – Shawn Emin and Lenny Beford
George H. Pye Award, for the heaviest shore bluefish caught by a resident senior: Ron Domurat; caught by a non-resident senior: Peter Boyhan
daRosa Awards, to the Boat Team Competition winners: “Pilothouse of Pain” – David Kadison, Jim Fraser
James P. Catlow Memorial Award for the heaviest shore bluefish caught by a male resident: Ron Domurat
Thomas Nessa Memorial Award awarded to the individual who weighs the heaviest striped bass on the first day of the tournament: John Casey
Bill Ashak Memorial Award for the largest shore bass caught by a junior: Jacob Scott
Albert Angelone Memorial Award for the first junior angler to weigh in a bonito: Dylan Kadison
Thomas McCauley Memorial Award (for any species weighed in under badge number 204): Jason Davey
Martha’s Vineyard Surfcaster’s Sportsmanship Award: Phil Horton
Beaulieu/Loud Memorial Award (awarded to a parent/child fishing team): Bill, Kris, Elizabeth and Katherine O’Brien
Robert “Huff” Langley Memorial Award: Bob Thomas
Cutler Bike Shop Award: Boat: Brendan Morris; Shore: Michael Gibson
David Furino Memorial Award: Bob and Peter Boyhan
Roberto Germani Memorial Catch and Release Award – Spin Rod: Peter Boyhan; Fly Rod: W. Brice Contessa
Vintage Jewelry Award (for heaviest bluefish caught by a senior): Fran Clay
Francis (Sancy) Pachico Youth Scholarships:
Noah Smith, Jacob Scott, Chesca Potter, Christopher Mayhew
The Jetty Chipmunk Award (for the heaviest shore bonito caught by a junior) Tommy White