Last Year's Winner Takes Lead in Bass Derby

By MAX HART

Like the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra once said, it was deja vu all over again.

Leo Lecuyer, who won the grand prize 19-foot Boston Whaler last year with his 45.18-pound shore striped bass caught on the third day of the derby, sauntered into the weigh station Thursday night - the fifth day of this derby - at 14 minutes past nine o'clock with another big striper caught from the shore. And while this year it was a little lighter at 40.19 pounds, it was the first 40-pounder of the derby and a fish that vaulted him into first place (again) with a commanding lead over second place (James Cornwell's 28.32-pounder). It was exactly one year and one day from when he caught his prize-winner.

Now, a glance up at the leader board after the first full week of fishing in the 61st Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish derby looks eerily similar to how it all ended up last year, making for more than a few double takes. Joining Mr. Lecuyer on the board are Bernie Arruda and his 6.35-pound shore bonito (Mr. Arruda's 9.53-pound shore bonito won that category last year) and the 13.55-pound boat bluefish caught by David Smith - the father of John Smith, the grand winner in the same category last year who brought in a 15.95 bluefish.

Ally Moore's 26.78-pound striper reeled in on a flyrod rocketed him to the top of that category; Dan Pribanic's 12.27-pound striper is the second and only other fish in that division. There are more prizes than ever for flyrod fishermen this year.

Certainly the weather helped. Bright skies, calm seas and Indian summer temperatures greeted the weekend fishermen, making both the first special Saturday event and the kids' derby on Sunday a big success. Hayden Boullie (8.09-pound shore bluefish) and Zach Coutinho (12.95-pound boat bluefish) each took home $500 for their top bluefish in the first Saturday special event.

Next Saturday, the top two false albacore from boat and shore will win the prizes.