Fly rod tournament is canceled

Tom Robinson, of Vineyard Haven, releases a striped bass in this 2018 photo. This year's Martha's Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament has been canceled.

The good news is that fishing is one of the activities you can still do while social distancing. The bad news is that tournaments aren’t something that can continue at this time.

On Friday, the Martha’s Vineyard Road and Gun Club announced that its 29th Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament was being canceled. The tournament was scheduled for Saturday, May 30.

“We’re really disappointed but it’s the right thing to do,” Cooper “Coop” Gilkes, tournament chairman, said in the release. “While it’s possible to fish safely, getting together for the breakfast and awards, which is part of the fun, would’ve put people at risk of infection.”

In the past, tournament organizers awarded plaques for the most fish caught and released by a team, according to the release. This year, in a major shift, the contest was to be based on a fish quota and finish time, not the number of striped bass caught and released.

Tournament organizers said the unique change to the rules was based on new concerns about catch-and-release mortality.

“A lot of the fishermen were really looking forward to trying out the new format,” Coop said. “But at least people can still have fun fishing.”

Twenty-nine years ago, members of the Rod and Gun winter fly tying group created the unique fly rod catch and release tournament to promote honesty, camaraderie, and conservation. Those qualities continue, the club said.

Anyone who had pre registered and has not received a refund should write to:


  1. I am rather mystified about the reasons for canceling this event. Fishing season is going ahead in many other states and it is one activity that can be done outdoors. The culmination of the event and results could have been done online, in the newspapers, etc., too bad…

  2. Augustawynd, you are correct with respect to fishing. It is a sport with social distancing built into the culture. However, the core of this tournament, and what makes it so unique, is that it is built around an awards ceremony where actual fishing tallies and awards are of secondary importance. The fun camaraderie and presentation of prizes to fishermen irrespective of the catch is at the core of this tournament, and simply can’t be duplicated online. I encourage you to read this story about an earlier contest:; or go to the Rod & Gun Club site:

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