Martha's Vineyard Fishing Derby

Jen Hawkins O'Hanlon, REALTOR®


History of The Martha's Vineyard Fishing Derby

With its roots in 1946, what started as a way of promoting Vineyard sportsmanship and a new ferry line has become one of Martha's Vineyard's most significant annual events to this day. Every year for about a month, people from all over visit Martha's Vineyard in hopes of having a great time, meeting new friends, enjoying the island's breathtaking natural beauty and peace, and, after all, bringing home some awards.

While it is officially called the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, there are also awards for Bonito, Weakfish and False Albacore. These were added in 1985 when Striped Bass was banned due to a concern over a limited supply. In 1993 this ban was lifted until 2020, when the Derby decided to remove them again.

In 1999 the Derby Hall of Fame was established to "recognize individuals and organizations, including government bodies, who have made a 'significant and positive impact on the sport-fishing community of Martha's Vineyard and on the operation and goals' of the Derby. Inductees must have demonstrated 'good sportsmanship, honesty, integrity,' and exhibited a concern for fish and the environment."

As fishing has been a way of life here for most Island families, it only made sense to include the kids! In 1981 The Derby's Kids Day was established. At the Oak Bluffs Steamship Pier all kids are welcome for a morning of fishing and chances to win some prizes.
Vineyard Gazette Derby Timeline

From The 2022 Fishing Derby

Besides pure enjoyment and camaraderie, through its filet donation program, the fishing derby offers continuous support and a source of nutritious food for Island seniors. 

“The fact that we’re able to donate a couple of thousand pounds . . . I think is a very important program,” Mike Cassidy, a 30-year derby committee member, told Gazette.

Here is a glimpse of this year's derby. Courtesy of @mvderby Instagram account

Celebrating The Wins

Each year the MV Derby invites everyone (open to the public) to join them in a Final Award Ceremony. This is always a fun event, as a boat and a truck are given to one of the grand leaders if they happen to get the right key! 
One of the ways to support this wonderful event is to get involved with the Derby Online Auction. The entire exhibit is displayed at The Carnegie Heritage Center, 58 N. Water St, Edgartown. The auction runs throughout the Derby and is a way for supporters to obtain a one-of-a-kind piece of art! 🐟

Here at the O'Hanlon Group, we strive to support our little yet powerful community of Martha's Vineyard and encourage you to do the same and DONATE so this wonderful event and its members and beneficiaries continue to thrive.


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