The Edgartown harbor was relatively quiet on Wednesday night, with the exception of a small fishing shack where a steady stream of fishermen — young and old — arrived with their best catches of the day.

A small but festive crowd gathered in the shack and on the illuminated dock, taking photos and sharing the day’s fishing news.

Casting into an ocean of calm at Squibnocket. — Albert O. Fischer

The 69th annual Martha’s Vineyard Bluefish and Striped Bass Derby is off to a strong start, due largely to the ideal fishing weather this week. By Thursday, a total of 494 fish had been weighed, including 195 bluefish, 62 bass, 113 albacore and 124 bonito.

John Custer, chairman of the derby committee, has been participating in the derbies for 17 years. He said the albacore and bonito fishing was especially good this week. “They’re not huge, but there are a lot of them,” he said.

The derby runs through Oct. 18, with weigh-ins every morning and evening from 8 to 10 at the weigh station at the foot of Dock street in Edgartown. Contestants will spend long days and nights in boats and on the shore, hoping to land a winning fish for the day, week or month.

The derby opened on Sunday morning with the first weigh-in at 8. Within 20 minutes of the opening bell, catches from all four species had crossed the scale, including a 23.4-pound striped bass. Derby veteran Roy Langley weighed in the first round of fish. He said it was unusual for all four species to be entered on the first morning.

“The albies and the bonitos have been around, with the blues, but we haven’t seen too many bass, so I was glad to see a couple of bass come in,” he said. “If the water gets a little cooler, we’ll get more.” After weighing each fish, Mr. Langley snipped its tail fin and contestants headed outside for photographs.

The procession continued throughout the week, with new leaders taking over the blackboards in the fishing shack. Outside in the parking lot were the two grand prizes: a Model 220 Sisu from Eastern Boats and a black Chevy Silverado donated by the Clay Family Dealership. Parked in front of them on Wednesday night was a trailer carrying two kayaks, one of which contained a large striped bass glittering in the floodlights.

Phil Horton (left), Estey Teller and her husband Tom Teller. Estey had a bluefish that hit the leaderboard this week. — Timothy Johnson

“One of the coolest things is the kayak fishing,” said Mr. Custer, who was busy weighing and measuring in the shack. “Right now the three leading boat-bass are all kayak fish.” A kayak challenge was added to the derby last year for one weekend, and this year it has been extended to Oct. 18. The four heaviest fish will be entered into a drawing for a special prize at the end of the derby.

On Tuesday Joseph Canha entered the year’s first striped bass caught from a kayak. At 28.81 pounds, the fish was still leading as of Thursday.

Amy Coffey, who serves on the derby committee and weigh station staff, recently started kayak fishing. “It is not easy at all,” she said. But part of the fun is developing new skills. “You have to steer toward the shore, but you have to let [the fish] play you,” she said. “It’s like going back to the old days, when we fished out of canoes.”

Mr. Custer said the kayaks allow fishermen to get to more places, and not be so easily noticed by the fish.

“You can only travel so far and so fast,” said Whit Holden, who has been competing in the derbies for about 10 years and appreciates the challenge of kayak fishing. His daughter Ryann, age six, has been joining him this week in the hunt for albies. Three generations, including Mr. Holden’s father, were enjoying the scene on the dock Wednesday night.

Competitors in the derby range from mini juniors at age four “all the way up until you are too old to fish,” said Ms. Coffey. She said the junior fishermen this year were doing especially well, with two already earning spots on the leader board. On Thursday, junior fisherman Mason Warburton was still leading with a 13.17-pound albie he caught from a boat on Tuesday.

Senior fisherwoman and derby veteran Estey Teller was leading early this week with a 13.38-pound bluefish caught from a boat, but she was eclipsed by David Kadison with a 14.72-pound fish. Junior fisherman Jack Balzarini had the year’s first grand slam (all four fish), totaling 29.92 pounds.

As of Wednesday, about 1,800 people had registered for the derby, including 800 since Monday. Mr. Custer said that was a promising figure for this early in the contest. Last year’s derby saw the highest registration ever, at around 3,500. He said the event usually starts off with about 1,000 registrants and grows steadily.

“Weather plays a big role in it, so we shall see,” he said, looking toward the next four weeks. “But this has been pretty glorious.”