With a vigorous shake of his bell, Roy Langley opened the weigh station in Edgartown Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and the 71st Martha’s Vineyard Bass and Bluefish Derby got underway.

Tim Peters gets honor of first fish weighed in with 10.85-pound shore bluefish. — Steve Myrick

Before the opening bell, Derby committee president Ed Jerome asked the fishing enthusiasts gathered to pause and remember the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 exactly 15 years earlier.

“It was the most horrific act of terrorism our country has ever seen,” Mr. Jerome said. “I remember it, as I stood outside the Edgartown School with police chief Paul Condlin, and saw the Norad fighter jets scramble from Otis Air Force Base, on their way to New York City, fly overhead.”

Derby competitors found difficult conditions on opening day, with winds gusting as high as 25 miles per hour and fog at first light.

Peter West's collection of derby pins adorn a new derby hat. — Steve Myrick

The distinction of weighing the first fish, a 10.85-pound bluefish, went to Tim Peters of Oak Bluffs. While everyone knows a story about a lucky fish, it seems the Derby more often rewards hard work and perseverance. Mr. Peters and his fishing buddy waded to some rocks well offshore to begin the competition. He wasn’t saying exactly where.

“I worked for it,” Mr. Peters said. “We were out all night. We got to the spot about 1 a.m. and fished until 4 a.m. The water was just about to the top of my waders.”

Peter West was on hand to take in the opening day weigh-in, along with his small dog Simon.

“He loves the weigh-in,” Mr. West said. “The girls all wait for him.”

Mr. West wore a new Derby cap covered entirely with old Derby pins, all of them with the number 1933.

“That’s the year I was born,” Mr. West said.

The annual fishing contest continues for the next 35 days, culminating with the suspenseful awards ceremony on Oct. 16.

Follow the action at the Gazette’s derby headquarters.