The talk of the Martha’s Vineyard Bass and Bluefish Derby in the third week of the tournament has been as gloom and doom as the weather, but the excitement picked up in a hurry Wednesday evening when nine-year-old Westley Wlodyka dragged a striper almost bigger than he was up to the scale.

The son of multiple derby winner Lev Wlodyka, the young man’s fish tipped the scale at 36.42 pounds to take the top spot on the leader board with 10 days left in the tournament.

Kevin FitzGerald, a derby regular who hails from Alaska, fishes the shore from Philbin Beach. — Allen Carney

Despite the commotion at the weigh station Wednesday evening, a number of fishermen said there seem to be fewer fish around this year. In the past week, competitors experienced colder temperatures and rain, both made less bearable by steady, strong winds from the east and northeast. The windy conditions made casting from shore especially frustrating.

In the first hour of the weigh-in Thursday morning, there was plenty of time to talk fishing for Peter Johnson, a volunteer at the derby headquarters filet table.

“Slow morning,” Mr. Johnson said. “One bass, one blue.”

Mr. Johnson said the fishing has been up and down, with a bit more emphasis on the down.

“Bonito have about disappeared,” he said. “From the shore it has been slim pickings. The boats are doing a little better. This last week, the weather put a damper on it.”

The chalk tells the story on the derby leader board. In the shore bonito category, Michael Ludwig leads with a 5.66-pound fish. But the two spaces below him are quite conspicuously blank. There is no chalk in the box for second and third place, because through Thursday morning, Mr. Ludwig had weighed the only bonito caught from shore this year. That is a development that several derby fishermen found astonishing.

“One bonito from shore,” said veteran angler Janet Messineo incredulously. “One. Of course, why would I ever think I could catch another one,” she said, grumbling about small bluefish chomping her bait, as she tried to land a winning fish from Memorial Wharf in Edgartown.

Anecdotal evidence points to fewer fish being caught, and the data seems to confirm that, but the numbers may not tell the whole story.

Checking the leaderboard during a derby dampened by rain, wind. — Mark Lovewell

“Before we necessarily draw that conclusion, in recent years we’ve had to account for the possibility that people aren’t weighing in as many fish,” said derby president John Custer. “They may be catching, but they’re not weighing in.”

Some speculate that a change in the way mystery prizes are awarded led to fewer fish weighed. Until this year, mystery prizes were picked at random from all the people who weighed fish. This year winners are chosen from all the people who entered the derby. That may discourage fishermen from weighing smaller fish to become eligible for a mystery prize, when they know the fish will not crack the leader board.

The derby committee anticipated the change might reduce the number of fish being weighed in.

“If that’s the case, that was one of the considerations in switching,” Mr. Custer said. “The committee though it was a responsible thing to do to not encourage the killing of fish for the random chance to win a prize.”

Another factor may be regulations for striped bass enacted last year by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). The regulators reduced the limit to one striper per day, at a minimum of 28 inches. In prior years, the limit was two 28-inch fish per day. The reductions may be part of the reason the number of striped bass weighed in last year’s derby was down.

Westley Wlodyka, age 9, with his 36.43-pound striper. — Amy Coffey

“Before people could catch a fish and keep fishing, trying to catch a bigger one,” Mr. Custer said. “Now people need to be a little more focused on the fish they keep.”

Last year, in the first year of the one fish limit, 253 striped bass were weighed in. Through 25 days this year, fishermen brought 221 fish to the scales.

After the Thursday morning weigh-in, Ed Amaral led the boat bluefish division with a 17.83-pound fish, and Evan Hammond led in shore bluefish with a 15.11-pound blue.

A 35.76-pound striper has earned Thomas Rapone the lead in the bass boat category, while Westley Wlodyka is tops in the shore bass division with a 36.42-pound striper.

Tommy Reynolds has the biggest bonito from a boat so far, 9.78 pounds. Michael Ludwig leads the shore bonito division with a 5.66-pound fish.

Louis Kerr landed the biggest false albacore from a boat at 11.04 pounds, while Donald O’Shaughnessey Jr. leads the false albacore shore division, weighing in at 10.79 pounds.

Ms. Messineo said the slow fishing has discouraged some competitors, though in general, derby fishermen are a hardy lot.

“I’ve heard some guys gave up and went home,” she said. “I can understand that when you come from off Island and pay a lot of rent. Me, I don’t know how to quit. You’re talking to an eternal optimist.”