From the October 1963 editions of the Vineyard Gazette:

Fish and more fish! That was the burden of the report from derby headquarters on Saturday noon. The total score on Friday night when the weary committee members sought their couches was 1,377 fish, beating all records for the same period over eighteen long and fruitful years!

The weigh-in for Friday was fifty-two bass and fifty blues, and it was noticeable that the blues were running larger and also that they were coming chiefly from ocean water. The smallest blue weighed in on Friday tipped the beam at 9 pounds 6 1/2 ounces, which is a good fish. The largest, landed by Irving Willoughby, put him in second place for the grand prize as of that date. It was an 11-pounder, taken off Cape Pogue.

The general temper, disposition and determination of the rod and reelers of the Island fishing derby may be realized and appreciated best by a reference to the weigh-in score of Sunday night. Sunday, as all local people and visitors know, was marked for gale-force winds, and cold one, plus quantities of driving rain. Ben Morton, who is really the god in the machine of the fishing derby, expressed surprise that anyone went fishing at all. Nevertheless, fifty-four fish were weighted in on Sunday night, eighteen blues and thirty-six bass.

The prediction at this point, the halfway mark as it were, was that a change is due. The bait appeared last weekend in the greatest quantity seen along the Sound this year. True, the fish did not appear to be feeding ravenously, but they were feeding. The breeze of the weekend, Sunday in particular, was expected to liven up the fish in all quarters and make the fishing generally better.

Nothing, of course, can be done about a run of mixed fish, but if the mixture is sufficiently even, the fish will take care of that themselves. The larger fish will shoulder the others out of the way if anything attractive in the food line presents itself.

There was big news yesterday morning that changed everything in the leading score of non-resident bass fishermen, and for the largest fish, the Garcia Trophy, weekly prize, daily prize, and possibly others as well.

Serge de Somov, who hails from Hampton Bay, Long Island, brought in a bass that weighed 48 pounds. This fish displaced everything in the classes listed, and probably ruined all sorts of plans already made in anticipation of drawing some of the big prizes.

Where he got his fish, or how, constitutes no part of the public record as this report was written, but it may be assumed that some large fish are arriving, that they are in a mood to eat, and that there is something present, which appeals to their taste.

The eighteenth fishing derby of the Vineyard ended its thirty-day run at 2 o’clock on Tuesday, winding up a contest record of which is loaded with statistics shot through and through with cockeyed phenomena, (there is no other word with which to describe it!) and tales of effort in the face of weather of the sort that causes shipwrecks and disaster.

For one thing, the derby started in the midst of a period of northeast gales, there were only eight days when boat fishing was possible, and sixteen when the sun shone. Half the thirty-day period was miserable for any man or beast obliged to operate out of doors.

Yet the derby was successful for all that, although the total score of fish weighed in was about 500 below that of a year ago.

Enrollment was 1,804 and 1,650 of the entrants weighed in fish. A hundred sixty-nine cities, 16 states, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Canada were represented in the enrollment. Winners hailed from 86 cities, the total number of fish weighed in was 2,927, of which 1,537 were striped bass, and 1,390 bluefish.

Grand prize winners were as follows: non-resident shore bass: 1st, Serge de Somov of Hampton Bays, Long Island, 52 lbs, 13 oz.; 2nd, Angelo Tuccelli, Somerville; 3rd, Fred Emelie, Scituate.

Resident shore bass: 1st, Merton Snowden, West Tisbury, 49 lbs.; 2nd, Fred Sherwood, Edgartown; 3rd, Henry P. Smith, Edgartown.

Boated bass: 1st, Preston Cook, South Dartmouth, 35 lbs., 8 oz.; Juvenile bass: Steve Landers (15 years) Oak Bluffs, 14 lbs., 10 oz.

Among the phenomena widely discussed was the appearance of a great number of bass, chiefly small ones, until the final three to four days, and the fact that these fish were hesitant to bite.

Among the phenomena widely discussed was the appearance of a great nuumber of bass, chiefly small ones, until the final three to four days.

Despite discouraging weather, absence of bait and the peculiar behavior of fish, the average daily weigh-in was 101 fish. Going back through the records for ten years, it was found that in 1962, the average weigh-in was 111 fish: in 1961, 102; 1960, 58; 1959, 24; 1958, only 9. But in 1957, 1956, 1955 and 1954, the daily weigh-in was 43, 35, 60, and 46, respectively. These figures seem to indicate a cycle, which apparently has reached a peak during the past two derbies.

Compiled by Hilary Wall