With the last weigh-in for the Derby schedule for tomorrow night between 8 and 10 PM, folks are still fishing hard, said Steve Morris from Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Edgartown.
There have been some albies and bonito around, especially in the Edgartown/Cape Poge area, as well as the funny fish hotspot that is known as Menemsha, for shore folks while Steve suggested that boat anglers have most likely been fishing the Squibnocket area for bonito and anywhere from Vineyard Haven to Wasque and Middle Ground/Tashmoo to Menemsha in search of a winning false albacore. There apparently have been waves of activity that make one day (somewhat) hot and another very much not. For example, yesterday there was one bonito weighed in and it was caught from shore, while on Wednesday all four spots in the all tackle boat category were filled and two other bones were entered in the mini-junior boat category, with the same angler who checked in a shore bonito on Thursday also entering the sole shore caught bone on Wednesday.
Steve said there were a couple of albies weighed in this morning, but they apparently didn’t supplant the top fish caught this week. The heaviest all tackle boat albie this week (10.16-pounds) was over two pounds less than the top fish in that category (12.23) for the entire Derby, while the heaviest all tackle shore fish for the final week was an impressive 11.67-pounder caught on Monday, taking over second place in that division, less than a pound shy of the leader (12.56). It’s interesting to see the best shore caught albie besting the leading boat fish at this point in the event, but I would suspect that a good number of folks will be concentrating their efforts today and tomorrow on the albie fishery since there are obviously still enough double digit fish around to keep the Grand Leaders sweating out the final 31-hours.
In the boat bass category, the first 50-pound bass since 2017 clearly has the all-tackle division sewn up, but given that a 27+-pound shore striper was caught yesterday from shore, there will be more than few anglers over the next two nights tossing eels, darters, needlefish, SP Minnows, big soft plastics, or some other offering that they hope has some extra mojo that will catch the fish that tops the current 29.61-pound leader, which was caught on the first day of the Derby. When it comes to SP Minnows, blurple (black/purple), yellow, and chicken scratch have been popular colors.
As Steve emphasized, it only takes that one fish to take over top honors in any of the eight Grand Leader categories, and while most folks associate big bass with the nighttime hours, there will still be some anglers soaking bait such as squid, eels, or pogies along the southside beaches. There have been some schools of big pogies around, making fresh bunker a good option.
An 18.81-pound all tackle boat bluefish caught by Junior angler Mason Warburton made me eat my words as I was awfully sure that another first day of the Derby fish, an 18.49-pound chopper, would prove to be unbeatable. Steve pointed out that big, rogue bluefish are a staple of the Derby and there really is no rhyme or reason as to where you will find them. My experience has shown that while most folks have no interest in sacrificing an eel to a bluefish, the largest blues that I have ever caught were taken around the Elizabeths while tossing snakes for bass.