The 78th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby came to a close this weekend, rounding out with its traditional awards ceremony.
Anglers of all ages gathered at the Farm Neck Golf Course in Oak Bluffs Sunday afternoon in celebration of another successful competition.
This year’s Derby had about 3,000 participants who weighed in roughly 2,000 fish, amounting to around 18,000 pounds. 171 triple crowns were registered this year, around half of which were by shore anglers.
While there were a bevy of prizes of cash, artwork, apparel, and tackle gear, the biggest prize of the day was a turnkey 22-foot Sisu Hardtop boat, outboard, and trailer, courtesy of Eastern Boats, which was won by David Kadison.
Kadison was one out of six grand leaders in the running for the grand prize. He’d been first place in the all-tackle category for his 10.60-pound boat-caught bonito.
The other five grand leaders were Rick Zappala, 10.02-pound bonito (shore);
Bill Potter, 19.21-pound false albacore (boat); Joseph T. Cefalo, 14.67 false albacore (shore); Elizabeth S. O’Brien, 16.41-pound bluefish (boat); and Justus Conant, 16.15-pound bluefish (shore).
A few hours earlier, the Derby celebrated its younger participants with the mini-junior and junior award ceremony, a vital part of the annual event, as it serves as a reminder of the underlying purpose of the five-week tournament, Derby President John Custer said.
“A huge part of the Derby continues to be families fishing together, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and the parents’ faces,” he said. “It’s priceless.”
“Fishing the Derby includes lessons on conservation, sportsmanship, and healthy competition,” he continued. “Special thanks to the families, parents, and relatives for supporting their children in this endeavor.”
“We’ve all heard of soccer moms [and] hockey dads; some of you are that as well. But Derby parents have their own special place in our hearts.”
Also on Sunday was the announcement of two new Derby Hall of Fame inductees, Paul Schultz and Joe El-Deiry — both of whom had numerous letters sent to the Derby committee on their behalf, supporting their induction into the Hall of Fame.
“For many, the name Paul Schultz is synonymous with Martha’s Vineyard surfcasting,” one letter read.
Schultz, a former dDerby committee member and Trustees of Reservations employee, said he was surprised that he’d been tapped for the prestigious honor. “I’ve wanted this forever and ever,” he said.
For Joe El-Deiry, former chair of the Derby committee, being inducted into the Derby Hall of Fame is a dream come true.
“It’s pretty special to be included with so many of my mentors,” he said upon receiving the honor. “It’s kind of amazing … I’m blown away by it.”
In letters of support for his induction, El-Deiry was praised for his many years of service to the event, including his composure and leadership as committee chairman during the sudden passing of Derby president Ed Jerome during the 73rd Derby in 2018.
“There is so much that happens daily during the Derby itself, but also a tremendous amount that happens in the other 11 months of the year,” one letter said. “Joe El-Deiry has always and continues to live the Derby during those 11 months.
“It’s a tournament with fish, but it’s really about people. Joe exemplifies what the Derby is all about. Thank goodness that the Derby is more about people than the fish — people like Joe.”
Custer also took time to thank the more than 30 volunteers and dozens of sponsors who work throughout the year to ensure a successful Derby season. “It’s really, really gratifying to be part of an event and organization that the community gets behind and loves,” he said. “We’re so lucky to be here, fishing the waters around the Vineyard, participating in an event with such tradition and history.”
This year, through event revenue and charitable trusts, Custer said the Derby organization was able to award a “record high” $90,000 in college scholarships to 12 local high school graduates.
Continuing success of the scholarship program, which was the brainchild of Ed Jerome, “gives the Derby committee great pride,” he said. “And it highlights the importance of our volunteer work … Thank you all for supporting the Derby and our promise to support students’ continuing education.”
2023 Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby winners:
Bonito: Robert D. Morrison, 7.79 (boat); Patrick J. Carson, 5.92 (shore)
False albacore: David W. Rimmer, 11.87 (boat); Henry Williams, 12.34 (shore)
Bluefish: Zachary C. Horrocks, 13.91 (boat); Jared Stobie, 12.12 (shore)
Boat: David C. Kadison, 40.43
Shore: Timothy J. Scott, 31.82
Flyrod (boat): Zachary C. Horrocks, 33.14
Bonito: Nathan J. Rezendes, 8.78 (boat); Corrick Slavin, 4.92 (shore)
False albacore: Christian E. Fisher, 13.3 (boat); Macallan J. Moran, 10.54 (shore)
Bluefish: Emmett R. Sylva, 14.99 (boat); Shane M. Harding, 12.74 (shore)
Mini-juniors (ages 4-8):
Bonito: Ethan G. Rivers, 8.31 (boat); Owen A. Emin, 3.11 (shore)
False albacore: John Roriz, 12.69 (boat); Alexander K. Douglas, 9.10 (shore)
Bluefish: Alexander K. Douglas, 14.48 (boat); Luke Stobie, 10.14 (shore)
For the first time in Derby history, President Custer noted, a mini-junior shore angler managed to achieve a triple crown. The award went to the sole contender, Owen Emin, with a total of 14.24 lbs.