Islanders dominate 2017 Massachusetts Saltwater Derby

Martha’s Vineyard fisherfolk of all ages land the yeoman’s share of winning trophies.

Top row, from left: Tony Jackson, David Nash and Peter Shepardson. Front row, from left: Mason Warburton, Elizabeth Thompson, Chesca Potter.

Martha’s Vineyard fishermen did the Island proud at the 2017 Massachusetts Saltwater Derby, capturing eight out of possible 31 winning trophies.

The awards for annual fishing contest, sponsored by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), were presented Saturday, Feb 17, at the New England Boat Show, in Boston.

Islanders made a clean sweep of the False Albacore trophies. David Nash of Edgartown won the men’s division with a 11.3 pounder. Nash was the only Islander to land a state champ fish on a fly.

“I caught it somewhere in the vicinity of Edgartown,” he told The Times. Nash was equally elusive about his choice of fly. “It was a small, white fly,” he said, adding that it was given to him years ago by his late father-in-law, Richard Bray.

MV Derby grand prize winner Trish Lyman of Edgartown won the women’s division with a 12.4 pounder, the same fish that put her behind the wheel of a new 2017 Subaru in October. Chesca Potter of Tisbury won the junior division with a 10.9 pound albie.
Tony Jackson of Edgartown won the bonito division with a 11.6 fish, which would have beat Steve Baccelli’s MV Derby winning bonito by almost a pound. But he caught it on November 8, almost a month after the MV Derby ended. He caught his prize winning “bone” off of Memorial Wharf in Edgartown, with a bucktail jig.  Jackson said he wasn’t surprised to get a bonito that late in the season.

“The warmer fall seemed to hold the fish a little longer,” he told The Times. “The bonito tend to stick around a little longer than the albies.”  Jackson said there is no fishing “season” for him. “I fish all year long,” he said. “I always have hope.”

Sol Watson of Oak Bluffs won the Spanish Mackerel trophy for a 6.13 pound fish.

Peter Shepardson of Tisbury won the Yellowfin tuna trophy with a 66.5 pound fish.

Mason Warburton of West Tisbury landed the honors for the biggest bluefish in the junior division with an 18.13 pound bruiser.

Elizabeth Thompson of West Tisbury won the King Mackerel junior division with a seven pound fish, four ounces bigger than the biggest King Mackerel weighed in by any adult in the state of Massachusetts.

In the overall trophy count, the Vineyard handily beat Nantucket, 8 – 2.
The DMF sponsors two annual statewide fishing derbies, the weigh-in derby and the catch-and-release derby. Awards are  given to anglers catching the heaviest (weigh-in) or longest (catch-and-release) of each species for three divisions: Mens, Womens, and Juniors — boys and girls 15 years old and younger.
Entries must be received within 30 days of the catch and postmarked no later than Dec. 10 of the calendar year.  Fish must be weighed at an official weigh station. To qualify for the catch and release, fishermen must have a measuring device shown in a photo of their catch.