For many locals on Martha’s Vineyard this is literally the most wonderful time of the year. As much as we love the hustle and bustle of summer, the slower pace of September is welcomed after a hectic season and the weather is just perfect. Another bonus? September marks the start of the 73rd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby, more commonly referred to as simply “The Derby,” now underway until October 13th.
It’s a known fact on Martha’s Vineyard that if you live here and love to fish you are likely fishing The Derby, at any and all costs. Sleep, work and the regular responsibilities of daily life are often compromised on-Island during the tournament, and for good reason, the stakes are high. The winning shore fisherman walks away with the keys to a Cape Codder 19 boat and the winning boat fisherman rides away in a 2018 Subaru Forester, and people are fishing to win.
If you’re planning to visit Martha’s Vineyard between September 9 and October 13, 2018 and you love to fish you’re in luck. In addition to fishing (and most importantly catching!) The Derby fosters friendships and camaraderie, and creates lasting memories, while encouraging participants to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the Island. To fish The Derby is to become part of the fabric of the Island community and its history, and every eager fisherman or woman is welcome to participate.
Interested fishing enthusiasts can register for The Derby at several local tackle shops including Larry’s Bait & Tackle, Dick’s Bait & Tackle, Coop’s Bait & Tackle, Keep it Reel Kayak & Tackle, and many other convenient locations listed here. The cost of registration is $60 for adults, $35 for seniors, and $25 for juniors. In addition, you are welcome to give an optional donation to the organization’s scholarship fund which awards annual scholarships to Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduating seniors. The total amount of money donated since its establishment now exceeds $600,000. So not only is the experience of The Derby more than enough of a reason to enter but the cause is a meaningful one.
Plus, it’s kid friendly too! Enthusiastic anglers ages nine to 14 are invited to compete in the junior division and the youngest fishermen, those between four and eight, compete as mini juniors. There is also a free kid’s derby event on Sunday, September 16 that always makes for a great photo opp.
The highly anticipated Derby Awards Ceremony takes place on August 14 and is free and open to the public. There those that top the leaderboard at the end of the Derby hope to be given the winning key to the car or the boat, coveted prizes that carry the weight and honor of decades of a local fishing tradition, which in itself is the best prize of all.
It's my job to love this place, and it's no work at all.