A chilly northeast breeze was no deterrent to the Kids Day Derby on Sunday morning, which drew close to 200 youngsters to the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority wharf. Though the fishing contest proved to be more like a scup festival, it was a 21 1/4-inch striped bass caught by seven-year-old Chelsea Bouchard of Marstons Mills, in the last half-hour of the contest, that won the prize for the biggest fish overall. Unlike most other fishing contests, in the Kids Derby it is the length of the fish and not the weight that is measured.
The Kids Derby has evolved through the years, following changing habits. Years ago, anglers showed up with plastic buckets, with the hope of taking something home for dinner. This year’s contest was more than ever a catch and release tournament. Youngsters would wrap their catch in a towel, approach the measuring center, and have their fish and their name registered. They then would turn around and quickly walk to the edge of the wharf and release the fish. The state minimum size for scup is 10.5 inches.
Six-year-old Nick Ben David caught a keeper, a 14 1/4 inch scup and won a trophy for the longest scup caught in the tournament. The beautiful trophy was made by Janet Messineo, a local taxidermist and member of the derby committee.
Ms. Messineo was behind the counter measuring each of the fish as they came in. She shook her head. For years, she said, she has helped the junior anglers participate in the contest. But this one was special, she said, because she started recognizing the kids from years ago bringing their own kids to participate. “That is something,” Ms. Messineo said.
In addition to lots of scup, young anglers reeled in large and small black sea bass and fluke.
Aiden Rogers, eight, of Edgartown, mastered the skill of catching bluefish and came up with at least two.
“I am getting tired of seeing your face,” joked Mel Hauck to Aiden as he brought yet another fish to measure. Mr. Hauck volunteered with his wife, Betsy, and daughter, Morgan, to measure the fish.
Joseph Caputo, 12, of Monmouth Junction, N.J., was all smiles. The youngster reeled in over 10 fish in a short period of time. Some were rather large black sea bass.
Early in the contest, a 47-foot Coast Guard lifeboat from Menemsha did a circle around the wharf but did not dock. Rough seas from the north kept the boat afar. Three members of the Coast Guard auxiliary Martha’s Vineyard detachment were on hand, along with a large crew of derby committee members to assist the youngsters.
Shortly before 9 a.m., Ed Jerome, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, officiated at the awards ceremony. Mr. Jerome paid special tribute to Lela Gilkes for her role in bringing together the early morning results. Every youngster that participated received a special Kids Derby T-shirt.
The results are as follows:
• Largest fish overall, Chelsea Bouchard, 7, 21 1/4-inch striped bass.
• Anglers eight and under: 1, Kayla DeBettencourt, 7, 18-inch sea bass; 2, Tayla Ben David, 5, 18-inch bluefish; 3, Jacob Scott, 7, 17-inch sea bass.
• Anglers 7 through 11: 1, William Herman, 10, 19-inch black sea bass; 2, Joe Crenshaw, 9, 17-inch black sea bass; 3, Shelby Ponte, 9, 16-inch fluke.
• Anglers 12 through 14: 1, Jeremy Mercier, 13, 17 1/2-inch fluke; 2, Thomas O’Shaughnessy, 14, 16 1/4-black sea bass; 3, David Packer, 12, 16-inch black sea bass.
• Largest scup: Nick Ben David, 6, 14 1/4-inches.