It’s Derby time: Weighed and filleted

73rd Derby begins, fishermen race to reel in the catch of the day.

Ed Jerome at the opening of the Derby on Sunday, Sept. 9, at headquarters in Edgartown.

Many local fishermen and onlookers gathered around the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby weigh-in station Sunday morning for the annual ringing of the bell to signify the start of the Derby.

Captain Ed Jerome, president of the Derby for more than three decades, thanked the crowd for its continued support and endless enthusiasm. “Thank you all for coming down here, and for participating in this tradition. We couldn’t have done this without you,” Jerome said.

Jerome said this is one of the biggest events on Island, and he is happy it is such a long-standing tradition.

“There are about 3,500 people who participate in the Derby every year, and you know all of them,” Jerome told The Times. “We are all one big family; I enjoy seeing the same faces year after year, as well as new ones from time to time.”

Soon after Roy Langley rang the bell to kick off the Derby, the fish started piling up. The first one to come in was a striper a little over 10 pounds, but that was just the start. A small bluefish and a roughly 13-pound striper were the next fishes to be weighed and filleted. (The Derby actually began at 12:01 am, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 13.)

Amy Coffey, special events coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, has a long history of helping coordinate the Derby as well. This year, she was out on the docks filleting the freshly caught fish and tossing the guts to the gulls.

“I really love this event,” Coffey said. “Sometimes, I feel like we are all a school of fish because we all end up coming back together for the Derby.” She said the Derby brings people together to enjoy themselves and act as a community.

Lisa Brown, owner of L.A. Brown Photography, has been capturing the most special moments of the Derby for many years as the Derby photographer. She said she loves seeing the reactions people get when they reel in a big one. “I love seeing the kids’ faces when they bring in a fish to be weighed,” Brown said. “And I love seeing the adults turn into kids when they are holding their prized fish; it is such a special thing.”

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