A monster bluefish caught from the shore proved to be the lucky charm for Zachary Magid of West Tisbury, who took home the grand prize in the 76th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby Sunday afternoon. Suspense hung in the air at the Farm Neck Golf Club on a sparkling October day as each of six grand prize leaders tried the key to unlock the grand prize: a 22-foot SISU with a Honda outboard and trailer, donated by Eastern Boats. Mr. Magid’s winning fish was a 16.65-pound blue. He was second to last in the lineup to try the key.
“I really don’t know what to say, I didn’t expect this to happen,” he said, reaching for words.
The other five grand leaders and contenders for the boat were Richard Wood, with a boat-caught 20.11-pound bluefish; Joe W. Thompson, with a boat-caught 13.10-pound bonito; Gavin Smith, with a shore-caught 8.43-pound bonito; David C. Kadison, with a boat-caught 14.76-pound false albacore; and Kathi M. Pogoda, with a shore-caught 12.31-pound false albacore.
The last weigh-in was Saturday night and as often happens, the monthlong fishing contest ended with a dramatic twist when Mr. Thompson bumped his daughter, Elizabeth Thompson, off the leader board for the heaviest bonito. His catch broke the derby record for heaviest bonito caught in the last 20 years, and landed him a $1,000 prize.
“I spent the past four weeks defending my daughter’s bonito title, she had the key to this boat before me and I did not expect I’d be the one to knock her down,” Mr. Thompson said Sunday.
By all accounts the derby was a success, with 1,514 fish crossing the scales for a total of 13,223 pounds. A total of 3,144 fishermen registered this year, 320 fewer than last year.
“We all look forward to life after the pandemic, but we understand we are in a better place,” derby president John Custer said in remarks during the award ceremony.
The derby raised $76,000 in scholarship money, $26,000 more than last year. The awards event was by invitation only due to Covid restrictions. An awards ceremony for the junior categories was held earlier in the day.
“The weigh station is truly where the magic happens,” derby chairman Joe El-Deiry told those gathered Sunday afternoon.
Mr. El-Deiry said later that the same protocols were in place at the station as last year, with only one person or family allowed at a time. All the volunteers at the weigh station were vaccinated, he said. For the second year, striped bass were not included in the derby out of concern for conserving the species. Mr. El-Deiry said many bluefish were landed this year, with more being donated to senior centers and Island Grown Initiative.
The six grand leaders are the individuals weighing in the heaviest fish of each species, boat and shore. Each received a limited edition Vineyard Colors print, $500, an original plaque, and a chance to win the grand prize.
Article published by Vineyard Gazette.