Coincident with the end of August the attention of those addicts of the pastime of rod and reel turned toward the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass Derby, which ought to be called merely a fishing derby because the blues have crowded the bass in number and popularity for the past several years.
The eleventh annual fishing derby of the Island will open on the 15th of this month and it might be well to glance back along the line of history of this event and to take what old timers would have called “a severe look” at what it constitutes as of today.
A publicity stunt, pure and simple, as it began and as everyone involved will freely admit, the derby has developed into something wholly unexpected, the institution of a “between season” vacation period.
Through the derby the Vineyard has acquired a great deal of publicity through the sporting columns of many mainland newspapers. What this publicity may have amounted to in the way of direct advertising is a disputed question. But the ultimate result has been to divert a group of people to the vacation period which covers the duration of the derby, whether or not they formerly came earlier or came not at all.

They Keep Coming

Each successive year for the past five or six has seen the return of various of these fishermen, and in recent years, their wives and perhaps their children. They have come because they like the Vineyard after the peak of the summer season has passed, and they come to vacation, with the fishing taking a secondary place in their program.
Like the hunter who travels miles across country, breathing the scented air of autumn and enjoying the colorful foliage, and who has a good day, as he will say, if he never discharges a gun, so the derby fisherman comes to the Island for the enjoyment which the Island affords; if he takes a fish, or several of them, it is fine. If he doesn’t, the regular visitor of today still has an enjoyable vacation and does no griping, but meets Islanders whom he has met before, boats in the crooked waters of the rips, and develops a wholesome weariness by means of his activities which vanishes before the “forty-fathom” slumber that the poet has written about.
Predictions are unnecessary and virtually useless. Nobody knows what the fish will do, but the fall run has always appeared in varying numbers. On such happening the fishing will depend. But the Island stands unchanged, all blue and green and gold beneath the sun, and the acclimated group who return each autumn will find the natural hospitality the same as that which inspired their first love for Martha’s Vineyard.