Every morning and evening, throughout the course of the five-week Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby a dedicated group of women work behind the weigh station table and manage to keep who caught what and how big it was straight. Although the Derby, now in its 71st year, has moved from handwritten paper slips to computer printouts, it is no easy task, and leaves little time for fishing.
On Tuesday, Cooper “Coop” Gilkes, a longtime member of the derby committee, and his son Danny Gilkes, an Edgartown charter captain, hosted a women’s Derby crew fishing party.
Coop, owner of the tackle shop that bears his name and a shore guide, said he got the idea one night when he was at the weigh station and saw the women working so hard and realized they all like to fish. “They wanted me to take them out on the beach,” Coop said. “And I told them, we can do better than that.”
The first year they fished around Nantucket. The fishing was slow. This year he decided to head to the Hooter, an area off the southeast corner of Martha’s Vineyard known for good fishing. It was a good move.
“We had a really great time,” Kristy Rose said in an email to The Times. “We all weighed in fish. Trish’s [Lyman] bonito tied with first to the hundredth so she is now in second overall.”
Coop said taking out the “Derby girls” is fun. “You should see those girls fish,” Coop said. “It’s a riot. The hootin’ and the hollerin’. And they’re good. We had a ball.”
Best of all Coop said were the picnic baskets they brought aboard the boat. “You should see what they bring to eat,” he said. “It was delicious.”