Kids Trout Derby is 40 years old Saturday

Kids line the shore at the 2012 kids day derby. — Ralph Stewart

The 40th annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Kids Trout Derby kicks off at first light, about 5:30 am, at Duarte’s Pond off Lambert’s Cove Road in West Tisbury this Saturday morning — rain or shine. Depending on weather and the attention span of the many young fishermen, it will finish up about 8:30 am.

The Rod and Gun Club provides plenty of trout, hot dogs, donuts, hot chocolate, prizes and fun. And oh yes, strong coffee for the adults, many of whom will get moving well before dawn to assist the youngsters.

The free fishing contest, paid for by the club with the assistance of generous contributors, has introduced generations of Islanders to the fun of a tug on the end of a fishing line. No experience is necessary on the part of kids or parents because there are plenty of volunteers willing to assist.

“After 40 years I’m seeing parents who used to be kids with their own kids,” said Cooper “Coop” Gilkes of Edgartown, the long-time tournament chairman. “It’s great to see the tradition continue, but it wouldn’t happen without a lot of help from a lot of people.”

The club has stocked the pond with hundreds of trout. Coop asked that fishermen, young and old, not take advantage of the stocking prior to the Saturday morning event.

The annual free fishing event is open to any child 14 years old and younger. Prizes will be awarded in numerous categories and age groups. For more information or to volunteer, call Coop at 508-627-3909.