How to: Participate in the Derby

The Annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby is underway, and here is all you need to know to try your own hand at fishing!

Set your alarm clocks and ready your reels!  Patch spoke with a few bait shops around the island, and they were good enough to share with us some of the basic information and fishing secrets about the four types of fish involved in the MV Fishing Derby.  If you've ever been curious about where to find these fish, or heck, what you might do with one once you've caught it, we've got the details here!

Also, if you want to weigh in a fish, you must have a Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Permit. Permits run $10 and may be purchased over the phone Mon-Sun, 5 am to 5 pm (1-866-703-1925), or online at www.mass.gov/marinefisheries


Bait: Tinker Mackrel, Sand Eel both sometimes hard to come by.  Mostly fished by lure.

Where to fish: Look for schools along the shoreline at Wasque, or take your boat to Menemsha!

What time of day: Early morning.

Average size: 5-7 lbs. 

How to eat: Since Bonito are in the tuna family, they have a little bit of a fishier taste.  Not usually eaten raw, sushi style.  Instead, try smoked or grilled.

Current Derby Leader: Doug M. Asselin, Jr. who caught his prize fish from a boat.  Weigh in was 7.52 lbs.


Bait: Bottom fish, bunker, squid, mackrel and chunk from bottom.

Where to fish: Fished all over the island.  Spots to look for include Wasque at the rip, along East Beach and South Beach from the shoreline.

What time of day: Early morning, evening and night fishing are popular.

Average size: There are a few different classes, but a medium sized Bluefish is about 6-7 lbs.

How to eat: Great on the grill, also oven broiled and covered in mayo is popular!

Current Derby Leaders: From a boat, Tony P. Canha with a Bluefish weighing 13.44 lbs.  From shore, Shawn A. Emin with a Bluefish weighing 13.74 lbs.

Striped Bass

Bait: Eel is the most popular, as well as chunk bunker, and many metal lures (needlefish plugs, Danny Boy plugs, darters)

Where to fish: Off-shore up island, especially Menemsha, Lobsterville Beach, Squibnocket, Gay Head

What time of day: Nighttime fishing, almost exclusively.

Average size: A "keeper" must be a minimum of 28"

How to eat: Julian from Larry's Tackle Shop in Edgartown, said you can make them "any way" and they're great, but grilling seems to be a popular technique!

Current Derby Leaders: From a boat, David C. Kadison with a Bass and David A. Nash from shore, caught a Bass weighing 30.76 lbs.

False Albacore

Bait: Tends to be a lure fish, not a lot of bait fishing done here.  Lots of small metal lures.

Where to fish: At the Chops, State Beach at the bridges, Wasque at certain times of the year, Menemsha.

What time of day: Early morning. Coincidentally, Albacore are much like Bonitos in the how, when, and where you catch these fish.  They are often caught in tandem.

Average size: Up to 15 lb.

How to eat: These fish are usually not eaten, since the meat is all bloodline and dark.  Julian says "very few people eat that."  Instead, it can be reused fresh or frozen for lobster or shark bait.

Current Derby Leaders: Jaemon Gillies caught a 14.77 pounder from a boat, and on shore, Alexander O. Bettencourt reeled in a 15.38 lb. Albacore.

So now that your curiosity is quelled and, perhaps your urge to fish is inflated, let's see all your big catch photos early tomorrow morning!  Weigh-ins occur each morning and each night, at the old Junior Edgartown Yacht Club, so you can prove to everybody that you caught a fish "THIS BIG"!  For more details, please visit the MV Fishing Derby's website.

Michael Bartgis September 22, 2011 at 02:34 PM
I think you mean False Albacore, not Albacore, there is a big difference!
Aaron September 22, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Also, striped bass must be a minimum of 28" to keep - not "20 - 30 inches" as the article states.
Aaron September 22, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Also worth noting that, to weigh in a fish, you must have a Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Permit. They cost $10 and may be purchased over the phone Mon-Sun, 5 am to 5 pm (1-866-703-1925), or online at www.mass.gov/marinefisheries
Mathea Morais (Editor) September 22, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Thank you Aaron and Michael for your comments! The article has been updated to reflect your suggestions.
Hungry Native September 23, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Bonito are delicious raw. Many charter captains keep wasabi and soy sauce on their boats for just this reason.
Wilson Kerr September 19, 2012 at 02:23 AM
MA law says a keeper is 28" for striped bass, but the Derby has minimum sizes for all fish. It's 32 inches for striped bass, for example. Check the rules brochure when you sign up!


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