From the April 20, 1973 edition of the Vineyard Gazette by Polly Woollcott Murphy:

“Quiet as a mill pond” became a most inexact cliche last Saturday morning when West Tisbury’s Mill Pond erupted into the gala scene of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Club’s opening day Children’s Trout Fishing Tournament. One hundred and fifty-four children flailed the water white with their enthusiastic casts, supervised by an eight-man tournament committee and watched by a small army of fascinated bystanders, interested mallards and irate swans. Red and white bobbers covered the surface of the water as thickly as the balls on a pool table right after the break, and prizes rewarding their efforts were presented in almost the same density, culminating in the tournament’s grand prize of a half a day’s fishing trip on Capt. Ted Henley’s party boat, the Saltshaker, won by Eric Medeiros, an eight-year old who landed a 22 3/4-inch rainbow trout, the largest fish of the day.

Eric won not only the grand prize, with his out-sized trout, but the first prize in his age group of eight and under, and the hourly prize for his age group, capping the last in the first hour of the tournament, in the dawn reaches between 4 and 5 a.m.

Other top winners of the day in that age group were Tim Gilkes, in second place, with a 14 5/8-inch fish; Steve Burt, third place, with a 14 1/2-inch; and Steve Burton, fourth place, with a 12 3/4-inch trout. In the 9-11 class, Bobby Lucas came first with 15 1/8-inches; Eric Pachico, second with 14 3/4-inches; Jamie Alley, third with 14 1/2-inches; and Tim Costa, fourth with 14 1/8-inches. In the 12-15 year-old class, Timmy Donald took a first, with a 22 1/4-inch trout; David Roy was second, with 20 1/8-inches; Craig Hochmeyer was third, with 19 5/8-inches; and Jim Andrade was fourth, with 11 1/2-inches.

The children’s tournament, the first of its kind on the Island, was sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Club to encourage and in many cases to introduce Island children to fresh-water fishing. The state, which helps stock the ponds, also encourages the fishing of them to keep down overpopulation and the resulting loss of food. On the preceding Tuesday, the state had stocked the Mill Pond with approximately 400 brook trout and brown trout and on Wednesday, the fishing club had added 114 rainbow trout, 10 of which were super-trout, ranging between three and five pounds. The fishing club had requested that no adult anglers fish the Mill Pond between 4 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, when the tournament closed, and during those hours, 153 fish were weighed in by the children.

“Almost,” said Alan Crossley, president of the fishing club, “one fish per child. Which is beautiful.”

The committee of the fishing club to oversee the children seemed to be having almost as ecstatic a time as the youngsters themselves. They consisted of Alan Crossley, Cooper Gilkes, Robert Gilkes, Whit Manter, George King, John Gadowski, Bruce Hayden and Roy Sullivan. Most of them were young men, most were bearded and all shared a nicely balanced sense of enthusiasm and sense of responsibility. Though no child fell in the pond, and no child was attacked by swans, the committee was fully prepared for such eventualities with a skiff, towels, blankets and life jackets. When the inevitable happened and one of the overly interested ducks got hooked, the committee was ready for that too and the hook was speedily extracted.

They also stood by with extra hooks, bait, lines and sinkers, so that no child failed to fish for lack of equipment. When several large-mouthed bass, yellow perch and bluegills were unexpectedly brought in, the committee smoothly announced a new category of mystery prizes, for prizes abounded. Besides the winners of the tournament, there were hourly winners whose names were announced over a bullhorn lent by the Oak Bluffs Police Department.

One scene vividly remembered — a stir on the far side of the Mill Pond, a rushing together of all the young fishermen and their sponsors as a big fish is played in to the shore and lifted out with a net. A dense knot of people on the bank and then David Roy, 12 years old, walking down the road towards the weighing-in station, his 20 1/8-inch rainbow trout held well out in front, and a bedazzled and beatific expression on his face. His prideful father, who is secretary of the club and a saltwater fishermen of not in his own right stood close by, shaking his head and murmuring, “And he kept saying ‘there ain’t no fish in this pond.’”

From one of the committeemen, “Well, there’s another convert to fresh water fishing.”

Many of the prizes were contributed by local stores, and the Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Club is grateful to all who gave their support to the tournament.

When the members of the committee arrived at the Mill Pond at 4 a.m. they found some 20 young fishermen already fully engaged.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox