A Message of Thanks from the Derby Chairman

John Custer Thank you for joining the Derby and therefore supporting the Vineyard community. The Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby today is considered among the longest-running, most popular, and significant fishing tournaments in the nation. On the island, it is viewed as much more than merely a fishing tournament. At the core of the Derby's mission is to give back to the island community, which it does in many ways. By registering for the Derby, you are part of this effort.

Following last year's Derby, a survey was issued to collect feedback from participants. The Derby Committee appreciates this important information, as we continually strive to strengthen this already popular event. We spent the offseason reviewing the survey data and discussing possible areas for improvement. The following are important rules changes and adjustments for 2016:

  • Mystery Prizes will now be awarded through luck of the draw to anyone registered in the Derby. No fish needs to be weighed in to be eligible. Daily, one prize will be awarded in each of the following categories: Mini Junior, Junior, All Tackle, Flyrod, and Senior.
  • The Team Competition has been amended to its original set-up, with four fish (one of each species) eligible to count towards a Team's total.
  • For boat fishermen, note that any Derby-eligible fish may not leave Derby boundaries even for purposes of refueling at adjacent harbors.

In 2016, the Derby again awarded $30,000 in college scholarships to graduates of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. The scholarship program highlights the Derby's commitment to the island and its youth, and happens as a direct result of your participation. As well, the incredible prizes, provided by our sponsors, help promote our event. The support of these companies, including the Clay Family Dealerships and Eastern Boats, is remarkable. As well, the great hats that all Derby registrants receive are generously donated by Vineyard Vines. We ask that you consider supporting the companies that support the Derby, for they have demonstrated dedication to the Derby's mission.

Remember to read your Rules Brochure carefully, paying close attention to minimum sizes and fishing boundaries. Be aware that Derby rules for flyrodders are posted on our website at www.mvderby.com. Our rules are written to ensure that the event is fair and enjoyable for all. Please be respectful of our island beaches and waters. When releasing fish, please do so carefully. Most importantly, practice safety and good sportsmanship.

While the Derby lasts but five weeks, the importance of fishing in this community is felt year-round. It's one of the characteristics that makes this island so special. Our appreciation of the water and its resources is strong. Luke Gurney demonstrated that more than most. Sadly, our community lost Luke this past June. But we take some comfort in knowing he was doing what he loved = fishing. His enthusiasm for fishing of any kind was obvious, as his lively stories illustrated. For him, all days spent on the water were good ones, and as his boat's name clearly reminded us he had No Regrets. Luke loved the water, fishing with friends, and sharing fish tales. On many occasions, I heard him say, "Catch 'em up, Dude!" During this year's Derby, thinking of him, I offer you the same encouragement.

Sincerely, John Custer
Chairman, Derby Committee