Last Saturday, Larry’s Tackle Shop hosted its annual OctoberFish celebration and award ceremony.
“It was awesome,” said Peter Sliwkowski, co-owner of Larry’s with his wife, Melissa. “We had 60 people here. Sandy [Fisher] brought barbeque ribs, Josh Kressel brought scallops, Melissa made a cake, and we ordered from Mo’s. Great people. Great food. A real community event.”
OctoberFish is as much a competition as it is a celebration of Island fishermen. After the Derby, when the out-of-towners have left, there’s a hundred or so diehards still out there casting and catching, and enjoying fall on Island. The prizes are nothing to shake a stick at: There’s a fabulous raffle where all competitors win a prize, and there is a key ceremony each year. This year it’s the top-rated Shimano Twin Power 4000 XD.
Father and son Daniel (Brick) and Matt Strem (Herpe) each took home an After Derby award. Matt won the Bonito division and a pair of Danco USA Premio Titanium Pliers for his 8-pound bonito caught from shore.
Daniel not only won the After Derby bluefish division and a 2024 Trustee’s Cape Poge OSV pass with his 17-pound boat blue, but his big fish also took first place overall in the boat bluefish division, earning Daniel $400, a Daiwa MQ 6000 reel, and a coveted key for the key ceremony.
Zach Magid rounded out the top three After Derby awards with his 13.70-pound false albacore caught from a boat. OneEyedZack, according to the nickname leaderboard, won a St. Croix Avid Inshore rod for the After Derby prize, but Zach’s fish was also first overall in boat albacore division. Zach picked up a Jiggin’ World Hybrid Spinning rod, $400, and a key.
“It was a good fish, but I didn’t expect that fish would hold,” said Zach. “It was a beautiful day. Flat and calm. I decided to shoot over to Nantucket. I saw bigger fish that day. Fish were blitzing all over the surface. Not one other boat in sight. It was a good day.”
Zach became more of a boat fisherman after winning the Derby in 2021. He named his boat Albie Damned after his favorite fish. “I caught my first albie 25 years ago. Been my favorite fish since.”
Zach fished every day in October that work didn’t get in his way. “OctoberFish is a wind-down of the season before the boring winter sets in. Plus, I don’t need an excuse to fish,” said Zach.
When the key ceremony began, the six first-place winners lined up. Peter Sliwkowski (Skip) was first in line for his winning shore bluefish. His key didn’t turn the lock. Daniel Strem’s and Andrew Jacobs’ keys didn’t turn the lock either.
Tim Scott, who took first for his 8.36-pound shore bonito, hadn’t been expecting a key. Before the ceremony started, he was heading to Larry’s, thrilled to win $400 and a Tsunami Airwave Elite LT rod, but not expecting to be part of the key ceremony. “This is the fish that keeps on giving,” said Tim (LilTimTim).
Tim’s key didn’t click the lock, and he smiled at Luke Bettencourt (Alex’s Bro) as he stepped up to the reel case for his turn. Luke won first place for his 13.14-pound shore false albacore. Before he turned his key, Luke was holding $400 and a Penn Slammer DTX 4500 reel in one hand. As he turned the key, the lock clicked, and the crowd erupted in applause.
“Luke was the best part,” said Peter. “He came into the store a month ago. He needed a new reel. His brother [Alex] had recommended a Twin Power. We didn’t have one in stock that day.
“Luke’s speech was funny: ‘I wanted a Twin Power. I won a Twin Power.’ A great story,” said Peter.
Every OctoberFish participant who attended the celebration went home with a prize. Peter and Melissa spent six hours assembling raffle bags donated by some very generous vendors. “The vendors were amazing,” said Peter. “We went through the raffle twice.”
If you missed the celebration, or forgot to enter OctoberFish this year, mark your calendar now for next year.
No matter the weather this weekend, you can enjoy “fishing” and celebrate Veteran’s Day. On Sunday, Nov. 12, the M.V. Film Society and Island Housing Trust are presenting the movie “Mending the Line” at 4 pm at the M.V. Film Center in Vineyard Haven. Tickets are only $20, and proceeds go to support the new veterans housing being built in Oak Bluffs
“Mending the Line” is set in Livingston, Mont. Wounded veteran John Colter returns from Afghanistan searching for a reason to live after his Marine buddies died. The movie has a few graphic scenes from war, honestly portrays PTSD, and slowly, through time, connection, humor, compassion, and fishing, gives us all hope.
When a doctor suggested that Colter try fishing for the physical and mental healing benefits, I knew I was going to like the movie (OK, I bought it). Avid fly-fishermen will appreciate the title of the movie. Everyone will nod and chuckle when Ike, a cranky Vietnam vet, says to Colter, “It’s not a pole, it’s a rod. You didn’t call your rifle a gun, did you?”
“Mending the Line” will be preceded by two short films and followed by a Q and A with Philippe Jordi of Island Housing Trust, Chaplain David Berube, and Vietnam veterans and avid fishermen Paul Schultz and Mark Leonard.
I hope to see you on the beach, or at the movies watching “Mending the Line,” supporting our Island veterans.