From the Oct. 1981 editions of the Gazette:

This was the week the bass derby came alive.

First, it was the Monday Night Massacre. The bass came in for a Columbus Day picnic and a few of the derby’s hard-core fishermen, along with some lucky not-so-hard-core anglers, had all they could do to haul the big bass away.

Somewhere on the South Shore — the anglers know where — a school of big stripers hit the bait from dawn till dusk. Calls went around the Island: There would be a show at derby headquarters. Curtain time, 8 p.m.

Sam Ruccio, the derby weighmaster, was ready. Tracks pulled up outside, And for about an hour the fishermen paraded in, stacking dozens of bass and blues on the weighing room floor. Crowds of fishermen whooped and cheered as the fish hit the scales. Flashbulbs exploded, and the new derby leaders shook hands.

Ed Medeiros had the heaviest bass of the Monday Massacre, a 55-pound, 2-ounce bass and a 20-pound, 1-ounce bluefish. The big bass and the derby’s biggest blue came back to back in the boiling frenzy on the South Beach. Outside derby headquarters, veteran fishermen said the fish had hit with a once in a lifetime ferocity. Whit Manter and Roger Silva weighed in 49-pound-plus fish and didn’t even get on the board. Their consolation was catching 960 pounds of bass between them.

It looked like Ed Medeiros had emerged from the Massacre with a bass that could win the derby. But last night, Richard Landon of New Haven, Conn. caught a bigger one: 56 pounds, 14 ounces.

And he did it with a squid rod and 8-pound test line. Mr. Landon may, in fact, have himself some sort of light tackle striped bass record, and certainly has a remarkable achievement, by all reports.

With the addition of almost a full week after Columbus Day, the 1981 derby seems as long as the 1980 Presidential campaign, a comparison most odious to the derby. Fortunately, a few people are likely to come out feeling like they’ve won something in the derby.

This Sunday at 10 a.m. it will all be over. The excitement is only beginning. For the next 48 hours, don’t bother calling your neighborhood fisherman. He will be on the beach, or in the boat.

The 36th annual Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby was declared a success on several fronts.

Sunday, the derby’s competitors and organizers crowded into the Harborside Navigator Room in Edgartown to toast the contest’s end, and the winners of a galaxy of awards and prizes distributed by the derby committee.

The derby committee, chaired by Ruth Burnham, had said it wanted to give awards to a lot of people. When the dust settled, 91 awards were handed out. Some fishermen got more than one.

The grand prize winners were Richard Landon of New Haven, Conn., whose 56-pound, 14-ounce bass was the largest of the derby. The heaviest bass caught by an Island resident was Ed Medeiros’s 55-pounder.

Eric Pachico had the derby’s heaviest bluefish, a 20-pound, one-ounce catch taken during the already legendary Columbus Day blitz on South Beach. Brian Crabtree had the largest bluefish for a visitor, a 19-pound, 8-ounce fish.

There were several records broken in the derby’s flyrod division, an area of derby competition given higher status this year. Kib Bramhall took a 42-pound, 14-ounce striper for a new derby record. Dan Purdy of Pocasset landed a 9-pound, 2-ounce bonito on a flyrod, a possible world record. Bruce Pratt of Edgartown may also have a world flyrod tackle record with his 10-pound, 9-ounce weakfish.

The Navigator Room was crowded, noisy and smoky Sunday afternoon. At the front table, the derby committee members crowded behind a long table, clad in red Boston Whaler windbreakers. Boston Whaler had donated a boat and motor worth over $10,000 as a derby raffle prize. Robert Rose Jr. was the fortunate winner when the drawing was done late Sunday afternoon.

At the tables near the front, well-dressed men and women chatted over cocktails. Away from the podium, closer to the bar, the derby’s hard-core fishermen - many of them fresh off the beach - traded assessments of the contest. Green bottles of Beck’s beer hung from every hand where there wasn’t a Bloody Mary.

Bernie Arruda sipped his beer and puffed on a ragged cigar. “I lost the derby winner last night,” he said, shaking his head. He was sitting in his truck when his rod went flat out in its holder. But when he tried to reel the fish in, the line parted.

Tom Norton surveyed the scene from the back of the bar, out of the crowed. He had spent the last night of the derby under the Gay Head cliffs. “This guy says there were 50-pound fish stacked all over the beach. If there were, boy, I must have been blind. There wasn’t a thing,” he said.

Ed Jerome recapped the high points of the derby — including the Columbus Day blitz in which “a small number of Island fishermen caught 125 bass. When a 50-pound bass like Bernie Arruda’s doesn’t make the board, you know some fish were caught.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox