On Monday evening, the second night of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, the fillet tables at weigh-in headquarters were full with volunteers, processing and cleaning the fish to donate to the Island’s senior centers. A volunteer named John tended to his wrist after having just fallen on the docks.

“I’m out for the season,” he lamented while icing his wrist.

Eli, another volunteer, carved open a large bonito. “John, forget about your troubles and look at this beautiful piece of fish,” he said.

Not just clapping for the sunset anymore at Menemsha Beach. — Albert O. Fischer

Later, Don Robinson from Alexandria, Va. brought in the new leader for boat-caught bonito. When Mr. Robinson posed with his fish for a picture, Eli jumped in and showed him how to hold his catch for maximum visual impact.

“I’m new to this,” Mr. Robinson admitted.

Amidst the commotion, derby committee member and weigh-station manager Amy Coffey collected scales from all the striped bass brought in and placed them in envelopes marked with the fish’s measurements.

“I get to be a scientist,” Ms. Coffey said.

This year, the derby is using its unique access to information about the Island’s fish population to participate in a scientific study run by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in order to promote fish conservation and to help ensure the continuation of the Derby itself.

“We’ve participated in many studies before,” said derby committee president Ed Jerome. “The information that we get determines a lot of what we’ll do the next year.”

The derby committee, which meets every month, wanted to address concerns about the striped bass numbers in the area. The committee reached out to the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries and were referred to marine biologists Nicole Crane, daughter of Island resident Pat Crane, and Dr. Giacomo Bernardi. The two researchers have worked with the people of the Micronesian Yap islands to increase their dwindling fish stocks.

The derby committee had considered increasing the minimum length for striped bass from 32 inches (the state minimum is 30) to 34 inches. When they consulted with Ms. Crane and Dr. Bernardi, the answer was no, Ms. Coffey recounted.

“The way you can help, they told us, is by doing data collection,” she said.

The data collecting continued the next morning as well as the fish donations. Bill Bennett, a volunteer for the Tisbury Senior Center, came by to pick up bins of donated fillets. The fish donation program is very popular with Island seniors, Mr. Bennett explained.

Fishermen gather at Lighthouse Beach. — Jeanna Shepard

“There will be 25 to 30 people waiting for me by the time I get back. They’re going to be happy to see me.”

Besides being a way to get food on the table, Mr. Bennett said it’s also a social event. “Everyone swaps recipes.”

The morning was a quieter time at the shack but records were still broken. A new boat leader for striped bass was brought in by Daniel O’Keefe, weighing in at 26.61 pounds.

“I’ve been coming for 20 years and this is the first time I caught anything decent,” said Mr. O’Keefe.

Mr. O’Keefe is off to a very good start as later in the week he replaced Mr. Robinson on the leader board for boat caught bonito with a catch of 6.69 pounds. Mr. O’Keefe continued to lead in both categories at presstime.

Out in the field that evening on the Menemsha Jetty, the area was busy with more than 20 lines in the water by 6 p.m. Peter Williamson, age 7, was fishing the derby for the first time and had yet to reel anything in.

”We’ve seen the fish,” his father encouraged. “Now we just have to catch them.”

Colby Zarba, age 14, was at the jetty looking for albacore in particular because “not a lot of kids have caught them yet” and therefore there’s a better chance of placing on the leaders’ board. The jetty wasn’t his favorite spot, however.

“This is just a stop on the way to a better spot,” he said.

John Gibson from Oak Bluffs was also headed to the jetty.

“A lot of my family fishes in the derby,” he said. “I’ve never had big successes but what keeps me going is the spirit and the people. It’s a special time on the Island.”

The fading light signaled the beginning of his time on the water. “I’ll be here until the sun sets and then I’ll bounce around the Island,” he said. “I’m not going to tell you where I’m going.”