At first, they were catching more conversations and cavities than fish at the first weigh-in Sunday morning for the 76th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.

Bob Williston wins the honor of first fish to cross the scale: a 10.74-pound albie. — Jeanna Shepard

Volunteers milled about down on the Edgartown harbor, swapping stories and eating zucchini bread and plum cake brought to headquarters by the extended Langley family clan. Leah Fraumeni placed yellow tape on the dock letting everyone know the traffic patterns, and derby committee president John Custer chatted with Taylor Pierce and his dog Bogey while making final preparations before the opening bell.

Mr. Pierce built a new fillet table for this year’s derby, the last one having served ably for many years (it started its life as a table for toy trains for Mike Cassidy’s kids) but finally had to be put out to pasture. In addition to helping out at the fillet table, Mr. Pierce is hoping to get some fishing in, but with a new number this year. He had been fishing number 118 since the fifth grade but gave that number to his daughter, Rowan, born in June.

“She will most likely be the youngest derby member,” Mr. Custer said.

Inside the weigh station, the names of last year’s winners were still on the chalkboard.

“We give them every last minute of credit we can,” Mr. Custer said.

At exactly 8 a.m. Mr. Custer opened the door to cheers and applause from the small crowd gathered.

Leah Fraumeni and Mike Cassidy look to trade up to the grand prize boat this year. — Jeanna Shepard

“It is my privilege to welcome you all to the 76th annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby,” Mr. Custer said. Then he asked for a moment of silence to remember the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

At the official ringing of the bell Mr. Custer also evoked the memory of Roy Langley Sr. who rang the opening bell for decades, and died exactly a year ago today at the age of 92. His family had gathered on Saturday night and during their weekly burgers and beans dinner they reminisced about how Roy would bring pastries and donuts every morning to the weigh station.

On Sunday morning, his grandson Roy Langley 3rd took over the pastry delivery duties, admitting that he had just learned of his grandfather’s long tradition the night before.

“Each day he would go to a different bakery, Dip’n, Back Door, Espresso Love, BTB, Katama General Store, and buy snacks for himself and the volunteers,” Mr. Langley said. “But then at some point all the stores found out what he was doing and started to donate the food.”

“Dad started up the fillet program,” added Jackie Langley (Roy senior’s daughter). “And he had a sweet tooth.”

Sunday’s pastries were donated by the Katama General Store, she said.

How it begins - every day - at the Big Bridge jetty. — Jeanna Shepard

Some years there is a line of fishermen waiting at the opening bell, fish in hand. Like last year, this one started quiet and stayed that way for awhile. Some attributed this to the wind beginning to blow, while others felt it was due to not having striped bass in the derby again this year, which traditionally feed late at the night and so are the most likely to be brought in to the morning weigh-ins.

An hour rolled by and still nothing except for a small dog walking by who was almost lifted onto the scale.

“One year a guy brought in a goldfish,” recalled Ms. Fraumeni. “So we weighed it in and made it official.”

Ms. Fraumeni couldn’t remember what the goldfish weighed, but to pass the time she brought out her phone to share photos of the piece she is working on for Bass in the Grass, the annual artistic fundraiser for the derby’s student scholarship program that decorates the Mini Park in town. Last year she worked in metal, but this year she is working with wood. The Beachcomber is made from a piece of driftwood she found on the beach and decorated with found objects: oyster shells, lobster claws, a marble eye.

Pickup trucks filled with fishing rods but no fish continued to drive by. Ms. Fraumeni and fellow volunteer Mike Cassidy decided to form a team, dedicated to fishing from Mr. Cassidy’s canoe outfitted with a small side motor the size and power of an eggbeater, Ms. Fraumeni noted. The team name: Canoe Catch a Fish?

The extended family of Roy Langley Sr., keeps up the tradition of bringing morning treats to the volunteers. — Jeanna Shepard

The shuffling about and reminiscing was interrupted at 9:28 a.m., when a cry went out: Fish On! Bob Williston of Oak Bluffs emerged from his boat carrying a 10.74-pound albie. He said he had been out since about 7 a.m. and it had been quiet all morning. Mr. Williston didn’t stick around long after the weigh-in, running back to his boat, fish in hand, to get out on the water again.

Back on the dock, fillet master Ron Domurat shrugged. There would be no work for him today as no other fish came in. But the derby is just beginning. Next weigh-in is Sunday evening, 8 to 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, the grand prize boat, donated by Eastern Boats, sits waiting in the parking lot by the weigh station.

“All it takes is one fish,” Ms. Fraumeni said.

More pictures.

The 76th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby runs until Saturday, Oct. 16. Weigh-ins are every day, from 8 to 10 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Visit