The 71st Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby ended Sunday afternoon amid raucous cheers and shouts of congratulations for two local fishermen who went the distance in the five-week Island fishing marathon that attracted more than 3,300 registrants — a new record.
More than 200 people gathered under a billowing tent at the Farm Neck Golf Club as the eight grand leaders — four in the shore division and four in the boat division — stepped up on stage. One by one, Ed Jerome, longtime Derby president held up a small wooden box, and one by one each fisherman picked out a key. Then came the moment of truth.
Evan Hammond of West Tisbury, 29, was first in line. He had fished the Derby every night and got up early each morning to commute to work in Falmouth. A landscape architect, he had only recently returned to the Island. The second week of the Derby he caught the 15.11 pound winning shore bluefish.
As the false albacore, bonito and striped bass grand leaders looked on, Evan stepped up to the podium where Ed took his key and inserted it into a padlock. The crowd hushed: Click! The lock sprang open and Evan was the winner of the grand prize of a new Eastern Boat, motor and trailer.
Waiting anxiously for their shot at Derby glory were the four grand leaders in the boat division. First in line was Eddy Amaral of Oak Bluffs, 81, who has fished the Derby most every year of his life and was with his father Augustus Amaral when he weighed in the first fish in the first Derby. Eddy stepped into the winner’s circle when he caught a 17.83 pound bluefish on September 20 in the fall classic.
Five decades older in age but possessed of the same fishing spirit he watched as the key was inserted in the lock: Click! Pandemonium ensued and the crowd shared in the joy. Ed was the winner of a new Chevy Colorado 4×4 pickup truck.
The 71st Derby had concluded.
For a full list of Derby winners go to mvderby.com.