On the Hunt for Inedible, Oily Menhaden

The fishermen — and fish — were out in Edgardown’s inner harbor Sunday. But there were no striped bass or bonito on the hooks. Instead, they were casting for menhaden.

The small, oily, inedible fish are prized bait, especially for striped bass. This time of year, when derby fishermen are vying for the largest striped bass, a premium is placed on menhaden.

Man's Best Friend at Filet Station

At the derby weigh station, curious onlookers are often just as large a group as the fishermen themselves. Friends and family stop by as catches are brought in, and tourists wander down to the docks to watch the happenings. Sometimes, four-legged friends make appearances.

On Wednesday morning, filet volunteer and committee member David Hearn brought along his four-year-old black Labrador, a handsome (and hungry) pup with the perfect derby name: Scup.

Menemsha Sunset During Derby

Menemsha jetty could be the most popular fishing destination during the derby. No matter how the fish are biting, the scenery is worth the trip. The channel buoy bouncing in the waves rings its bell, creating a soothing backdrop to the pursuit of striped bass. And when an angler lands a catch, the neighboring fishermen break into applause. The jetty is a place where strangers meet and become friends swapping tales about the one that got away.

As First Week of Derby Closes Kids and Seniors Shine Brightly

The Wednesday night weigh-in at headquarters for the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby appeared to follow a familiar pattern. The first fish of the night was a bluefish, followed by a striped bass, then a bonito. Then came a cooler full of blues, with a striper thrown in for good measure.

Tight Lines, Large Crowds at Start of Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby

Seconds after the bell was rung at 8 a.m. Sunday announcing the start of the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, two fish were carried through the door, lifted onto the scale and recorded on the leader board in the Edgartown harbor weigh-in shack.

Bell Has Rung, Let the Derby Begin!

Seconds after the bell was rung at 8 a.m. Sunday announcing the start of the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, two fish were carried through the door, lifted onto the scale and recorded on the leader board in the Edgartown habor weigh-in shack.

Ladies, Gentlemen and Kids, Unspool Your Reels, It’s Derby Time

The shack at the end of Main street in Edgartown lies dormant most of the year. During summer months it is used by the Edgartown Junior Yacht Club. During the winter, it sits empty, a little outpost on the harbor. And for five weeks in the fall, the shack comes alive.

Weighing Time at Derby Shack Lures the Faithful and Curious

The gray-shingled shack that sits in front of the Edgartown Yacht Club in the harbor goes unnoticed by most visitors to the Vineyard, but during the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby it comes to life for four short weeks when fishermen bring their fish in for the morning and evening weigh-ins. Twice each day they come to the derby headquarters and get their fish recorded in the official database.

Legend and Lore Bait Hook at Derby Hot Spots

Fishermen participating in the 68th annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby are already out plotting a strategy for success. Nearly all of them will visit one or all of four popular fishing spots: Menemsha Jetty, Joseph Sylvia State Beach, Memorial Wharf and Metcalf’s Hole.

1946 Fishing Derby Comes Alive Again In Newly Discovered Film Archive

Put plainly, most of the movie footage is not terribly good. Some of it is out of focus or overexposed. Some of it lingers too long on fish lying dead on the rocks. Some of it wasn’t even shot on the Vineyard, and it takes a judicious eye to determine which scenes show the Island and which show Nauset, Cotuit or the jetties at the northern end of the Cape Cod Canal.

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