Gone Fishin' : On rain-swept day, Derby lightning strikes twice
Back to back northeasters blew the 64th annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby to a close Sunday, with an awards ceremony that demonstrated that it helps to be a good fisherman to win a grand prize, but it is even better to be a lucky one.
A total of 2,844 people registered to fish in the 64th Derby over the course of the five-week tournament. All of them shared similar hopes and goals- catch the heaviest striped bass, bluefish, bonito or false albacore from the shore or from a boat.
But the men and women of the Derby committee will never be confused with the folks who hand out the Nobel Peace prize. Derby winners must do more than talk about landing the big one. To win the Derby a fisherman needs to catch a big one.
The eight grand leaders who stood on the stage at Nectar's nightclub in Edgartown Sunday, including eleven-year-old Wyatt Jenkinson of West Tisbury, did just that.
By virtue of their accomplishments, the four grand shore leaders had the opportunity to win a brand-new 24-foot Eastern center console boat with a 135-horsepower Honda motor and trailer courtesy of Eastern Boats. The four boat division leaders had the opportunity to win a 2009 Chevy Silverado 1500 truck courtesy of the Clay Family dealerships.
Other than Keith McArt, who caught a 16.55-pound shore albie, the largest in many years, few of the grand leaders could feel safe until the final weigh-in bell rang at 10 pm Saturday night.
Ryan Kurth, 24, of Chilmark had plenty of reason to worry. For two weeks he held the shore bass lead with a 34.10-pound fish, the smallest-ever Derby leader by almost six pounds.
As he waited for the ceremonies to begin Ryan, a plumber who works with his father, told me he began to worry from the moment he took over first place, but as the days went by he held on to a small shred of hope that in a contest where 50-pounders were once routine, his bass would make it to the finish.
On Columbus Day, Wyatt Jenkinson went out fishing with his dad, Patrick who is no stranger to the Derby stage, and came back with a 9.71-pound bonito that put the sixth-grader in first place overall and on the stage with the big boys.
For one week Wyatt waited, knowing there is always a bigger bonito out there somewhere. Every morning he checked the results. On Sunday he admitted to a bit of stage fright and told me the key part made him nervous.
And why not? I have watched grown men take on the expression of someone about to be hit by a train when it was their turn to step forward.
Each of the grand leaders picks a key from a box held by Ed. Then one by one the fishermen step forward and hand Ed his or her key as the crowd screams out encouragement. Ed holds up a padlock to a microphone and inserts the key and the room grows quiet.
If the lock clicks open, there is a wild cheer. If the lock does not open, there is a groan and the cheers begin again for the next person in line.
Approximately 300 people turned out for the awards ceremony. The wind-driven rain did little to dampen the enthusiasm inside where family members and Derby well-wishers watched the awards ceremony.
Derby president Ed Jerome told the crowd that Derby registrations were up by 100 over last year, a welcome note that proved that when the going gets tough people still go fishing.
In one of the few formalities of the afternoon, Ed inducted Ruth Meyer of Edgartown, former Derby committee chairman and owner of Larry's Tackle, the shop started more than 50 years ago by her father, into the Derby hall of fame.
Greg Skomal, Derby chairman, gave credit to the many volunteers who had assisted with the running of the Derby and announced that this year the Derby had presented $32,500 in scholarships to Island graduates.
Wilson Kerr, Derby committee member, handed out the fly rod awards. He used his moment on stage to thank all the spouses who also sit and wait, and wait, and wait.
But I saw through the speech. The newly married Mr. Kerr was trying to score some serious points with his wife after spending all Saturday trying to fill one of the open bluefish fly rod spots.
Married couples sometimes evolve with the Derby. I know. Years ago my wife would ask when I was coming home. Now she asks why I don't go fishing.
On behalf of the Surfcaster's Association, former Derby chairman John Custer presented the sportsman award to the family of Bob and Sarah Nixon, seasonal Chilmark residents and business owners, who last month organized a Derby five-day fishing trip for a group of wounded veterans that John said was the most meaningful event he participated in.
The fact that there was a truck to present had much to do with the support of the Clay Family and long time Derby supporters Bob and Fran Clay of Chappaquiddick who began the family business.
Addressing those in the room, Bob said it had been a tough year for the car business but his son Brian, who now runs the Chevy dealership, had no doubts about continuing to donate a truck to the Derby because it is such a special event.
Bob outlined the pillars that support the Derby: scholarships, sportsmanship, conservation and community. It was because of these, he said, that the Clay Family continued to support the Derby.
The presentation of plaques and prizes was only a lead-up to the climatic moment when the eight grand leaders would take to the stage for the awarding of the boat and truck.
The shore winners were first. "For a brand-new Eastern Boat," Ed said as he took the key from bluefish grand leader Peter Shepardson. The lock did not budge. Next in line was Ryan Kurth. Cheers changed to groans. Keith McArt stepped forward. Among those cheering was his wife and daughter, Sabrina Gail, borne less than two weeks after he caught his winning fish. "For a brand-new Eastern boat to drive that baby around," Ed said. No luck.
And then there was only one, Michael Seeger, who caught a 7.99-pound bonito he never expected would hold the top spot. He had not slept well since he caught his fish.
Mike told the cheering crowd that when he caught the fish he called his brother. "He's an insurance actuary," Mike said. "And he asked me, 'How much of a chance does that fish have?' And I said, I don't know."
As the crowd laughed, Mike said his brother examined the Derby records and called him back. "And I said, what did you find out? He said, 'We would not be able to underwrite that fish.' So I said to him, well you know I don't think you know a lot about fishing.
"But we learn so much from fishing. I think the great thing you learn is anything can happen and I think that is what did happen."
Then the boat grand leaders stepped to the front with a chance to win a new truck.
First in line with a key was William Pate of West Tisbury. It was a familiar spot for Will, manager of the RW Cutler Bike shop in Edgartown.
In 2006 he caught the winning shore bluefish and won a new Boston Whaler Montauk boat, motor and trailer, the same boat he had caught his winning 12.66-pound albie from.
Henry Fauteux of Edgartown held the bluefish boat division with a 14.04-pound fish. Not a huge fish but big enough.
Seasonal West Tisbury resident Stephen Pietruska, a commercial fisherman and retired Fall River firefighter, caught a 44.68-pound striped bass on the first day of the Derby. And it was still the leading fish on the last day.
Stephen had narrowly missed leading the boat bluefish division as well. In the only controversy of the 64th Derby, he weighed in a bluefish that took over the top spot but was booted out of the contest when ice was found in its stomach. Stephen promptly caught another big fish and took greater care to make sure it ingested no ice. That fish came in second.
But Will was first in line. He handed Ed his key. "For that beautiful truck out there," Ed said. The lock opened with a click and the crowd cheered. Will was at a loss for words.
"I really don't know what to say," he said.
From time to time we meet someone who claims that he or she never wins anything. William Pate of West Tisbury has forever given up the right to claim to be one of those people.
Special Presentations and Awards
Senior Grand Leader Awards
Madison Alwardt Memorial (bluefish): Shore, Carl P. Sherr, 12.53; boat, Gary L. Root, 11.47. Ray Metcalf Memorial (striped bass): Shore, Kib Bramhall, 32.77; boat, Tony H. Rezendes, Jr., 26.84. Arnold Spofford Memorial (bonito): Boat, Stanley W. Brown, 8.42; Shore, Stanley W. Brown, 5.98. Howie Leonard Memorial (false albacore): Boat, Steve E. Gentle, 9.13; Shore, Bernie B. Arruda, 10.38.
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: All tackle boat: David C. Kadison, 8 pins; Stephen J. Pietruska, 8 pins. All tackle shore: John A. Kallel, 6 pins; Stanley W. Brown, 6 pins; Peter Sliwkowski, 6 pins. Junior boat: Brendan R. Morris, 12 pins. Junior shore: Jeffrey S. Cimeno, Jr., 3 pins.
Wayne Jackson Memorial Award for the heaviest fish caught by a junior: Tyler K. Dufresne, striped bass, 28.04.
Victor Danberg Trophies, for the heaviest bluefish caught by a junior boy: Alec B. Cobban, 12.66. For the heaviest bluefish caught by a junior girl: Victoria Scott, 13.36.
Dr. David Finkelstein Award, for the Shore Team Competition winners: Team McRat, Keith A. McArt, Ron Domurat
George H. Pye Award, for the heaviest shore bluefish caught by a resident senior: Stanley W. Brown, 9.97; caught by a non-resident senior: Gary L. Root, 11.47.
daRosa Awards, to the Boat Team Competition winners: Tilton The Scales, Zeb A. Tilton, Zachary K. Tilton
James P. Catlow Memorial Award for the heaviest shore bluefish caught by a male resident: Peter C. Shepardson, 13.81.
Thomas Nessa Memorial Award awarded to the individual who weighs the heaviest striped bass on the first day of the tournament: Stephen J. Pietruska, 44.68.
Jetty Chipmunk Award for largest shore bonito caught by a junior: Evandro Medici, Jr., 4.45.
Bill Ashak Memorial Award for the largest shore bass caught by a junior: Taylor P. Blair, 20.96
Abe Williams Memorial Award for the first all-tackle angler to record a short Grand Slam: David Balon (9/17/09)
Albert Angelone Memorial Award for the first junior angler to weigh in a bonito: Dylan Kadison, 5.40 (9/13/09)
Thomas McCauley Memorial Award (for any species weighed in under badge number 204): Jesse Olson
Martha's Vineyard Surfcaster's Sportsmanship Award: The Bob and Sarah Nixon Family of Chilmark
Beaulieu/Loud Memorial Award (awarded to a parent/child fishing team): Bryan and Tyla Packish.
Robert "Huff" Langley Memorial Award: Colin Britt
Cutler Bike Shop Award: Boat: Tyler DuFresne. Shore: Jeffrey Cimeno
Creek Company Fly Rod Shore Award: Cooper Gilkes
David Furino Memorial Award (for sibling spirit, determination and sportsmanship): Taylor and Tristan Blair.
Roberto Germani Memorial Catch and Release Award - Spin Rod: Spin rod: Richard McCauley. Fly rod: David Nash
Vintage Jewelry Award for the heaviest bass caught by a woman: Helena Kirschenbaum
Francis (Sancy) Pachico Youth Scholarships: Liam Smith, Ryan Gosson, Lee Hayman, Addy Hayman.
64th Derby Final Results
Boat bluefish: Henry R. Fauteux, 14.04.
Shore bluefish: Peter C. Shepardson, 13.81.
Boat bass: Stephen J. Pietruska, 44.68.
Shore bass: Ryan Kurth, 34.10.
Boat bonito: Wyatt A. Jenkinson, 9.71.
Shore bonito: Michael L. Seeger, 7.99 (boat).
Boat Albacore: William A. Pate, 12.66 (truck).
Shore Albacore: Keith A. McArt, 16.55.
Boat bass: (1) Stephen J. Pietruska, 44.68; (2) Abram Kirschenbaum, 43.47; (3) Evan Metropoulos, 40.88. Shore bass: (1) Ryan Kurth, 34.10; (2) Claudius L. Agard, 30.98; (3) Colin T. Britt, 29.22. Boat bonito: (1) Wyatt A. Jenkinson, 9.71; (2) Joseph A. Serpa, 9.28; (3) Joe H. Turney, 9.12. Shore bonito: (1) Michael L. Seeger, 7.99; (2) Brian Gracie, 6.98; (3) Kris L. Lukowitz, 6.85. Boat bluefish: (1) (1) Henry R. Fauteux, 14.04; (2) Stephen J. Pietruska, 13.71; (3) Sandy E. Fisher, 13.50. Shore bluefish: (1) Peter C. Shepardson, 13.81; (2) Angela J. Deltorto, 13.01; (3) Ralph J. Peckham, 11.92. Boat albacore. (1) William A. Pate, 12.66; (2) Lenny F. Beford, 12.12; (3) Jared E. Fisher, 11.42. Shore albacore: (1) Keith A. McArt, 16.55; (2) Mark Campos, 13.24; (3) Stephen M. Tirrell, 12.12.
Fly Rod Division
Boat bass: (1) Paul W. Dimaura, 16.64; (2) John C. Rapone, 15.37; (3) Art Crago, 15.11. Shore bass: (1) David W. Skok, 25.02; (2) Herbert C. Tilton, III, 18.65; (3) Norris E. Johns, 17.70. Boat bonito: (1) Thomas J. Rapone, 6.39; (2) John C. Rapone, 5.77; (3) W. Brice Contessa, 5.73. Shore bonito: (1) W. Brice Contessa, 6.38; (2) Bob W. Iwaskiewicz, 5.53. Boat bluefish: (1) Thomas J. Rapone, 13.81; (2) John C. Rapone, 11.53; (3) Everett J. Francis, 9.36. Shore bluefish: (1) Herbert C. Tilton, III, 5.22; (2) Art Crago, 4.74. Boat albacore: (1) Rob D. Morrison, 12.12; (2) John C. Rapone, 10.63; (3) Noah C. Maxner, 10.55. Shore albacore: (1) Cooper A. Gilkes, 10.22; (2) Tom Sharpe, 9.64; (3) Justin M. Pribanic, 9.50.
Boat bass: (1) Tyler K. Dufresne, 28.04; (2) William C. Kadison, 27.49; (3) Townsend R. Morey, 20.87. Shore bass: (1) Brandon A. Steigelman, 17.88; (2) Curtis J. Farrell, 17.71. Boat bonito: (1) Wyatt A. Jenkinson, 9.71; (2) William C. Kadison, 7.48; (2) Emily M. Turney, 6.91. Shore bonito: (1) Evandro Medici, Jr., 4.45. Boat bluefish: (1) Alec B. Cobban, 12.66; (2) Cameron Maciel, 11.50; (3) Tony P. Canha, 11.22. Shore bluefish: (1) Jeffrey S. Cimeno, Jr., 10.55; (2) Dennis Rose III, 9.76; (3) Anthony J. Cimeno, 8.53. Boat albacore: (1) Bryan Carter, 12.39; (2) Alec B. Cobban, 10.53; (3) Emily M. Turney, 10.31. Shore albacore: (1) Curtis J. Farrell, 10.96; (2) Gordon A. Moore, 9.30; (3) Cameron Maciel, 6.79.
Mini Junior Division
Boat bass: (1) Dylan Kadison, 28.02; (2) Brendan R. Morris, 27.15; (3) Mike B. Metcalf, 25.17. Shore bass: (1) Taylor P. Blair, 20.96; (2) Christopher T. Ferry, 11.63. Boat bonito: (1) Brendan R. Morris, 7.13; (2) Dylan Kadison, 6.67; (3) Mike B. Metcalf, 5.95. Boat bluefish: (1) Victoria Scott, 13.36; (2) Nolan Bouchard, 11.58; (3) Dylan Kadison, 11.44. Shore bluefish: (1) Brendan R. Morris, 8.84; (2) Tristan R. Blair, 4.27. Boat albacore: (1) Brendan R. Morris, 8.33; (2) Dylan Kadison, 7.91; (3) Katherine G. O'Brien, 7.90.
Wednesday, October 14
Boat bonito: (1) Michael L. Seeger, 7.03; (2) Richard E. Steves, 6.52. Boat bluefish: (1) James R. Walpole, 11.69; (2) Benjamin Wiinikainen, 10.48; (3) James E. Joyce, 11.50; (4) Peter C. West, 10.30. Shore bluefish: (1) Thomas J. Kieras, 9.42; (2) Douglas A. Searle, 6.80; (3) Bob Jacobs, 6.25; (4) John P. Leydon, 4.18. Shore bass: (1) Stephen F. Amaral, 18.97 (hat trick); (2) David Ofer, 23.54; (3) Amy M. Lima, 20.14; (4) Winslow H. Crocker, Jr., 14.10.
Thursday, October 15
Boat bonito: (1) Stanley W. Brown, 8.42; (2) Jeffrey O. Day, 8.61; (3) Joseph P. Canha, 7.76; (4) Lenny F. Beford, 7.42. Boat bluefish: (1) Richard A. Cascarino, 12.12; (2) Stephen J. Pietruska, 12.22; (3) Chris Scott, 11.67; (4) Harry Beach, Jr., 11.43. Shore bluefish: (1) Gary L. Root, 11.47; (2) Thomas J. Kieras, 9.34; (3) Michael A. Davis, 8.90; (4) Jack Livingston, 8.75. Boat bass: (1) Rebekah El-deiry, 30.49; (2) Harry Beach, Jr., 19.29. Shore bass: (1) Steve G. Pierson, 17.40.
Friday, October 16
Shore Bluefish: (1) Ron R. Drake, 6.86 (hat trick).
Saturday, October 17
Shore bonito: (1) Stanley W. Brown, 4.98 (hat trick). Boat bluefish: (1) Gary R. Look, 10.64; (2) Tim W. Goodman, 10.39; (3) David B. Tilton, 9.69; (4) Stephen J. Pietruska, 10.32 (hat trick). Shore bluefish: (1) Jesse Steere, III, 8.63; (2) Ralph J. Peckham, 11.92; (3) Thomas J. Kieras, 8.30. Shore bass: (1) Eric F. Pachico, 15.77; (2) Steve Keene, 12.82; (3) Ron Mckee, 18.09; (4) Steve G. Pierson, 15.16. Shore bass: (1) Jeremy D. Bradshaw, 12.82; (2) James H. Taggart, 11.87
This is my last weekly fishing column of the season. I suspect the fishing will get better in the weeks ahead as the bass that were scarce along the shore during the Derby pass by our shores. Until next season, thank you to all of the many readers who encouraged me with their comments and offered suggestions.