From the April 20, 1973 edition of Polly Woollcott Murphy’s Vineyard Gazette:
‘Quiet as a mill pond’ became a most inaccurate cliche last Saturday morning when West Tisbury’s mill pond burst into the gala scene of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Club Children’s Trout Fishing Tournament. One hundred and fifty-four children beat the white water with their enthusiastic throws, overseen by an eight-man tournament committee and watched by a small army of fascinated passers-by, interested mallards and furious swans. Red and white bobbers covered the surface of the water as thick as the balls of a billiard table just after the break, and the prizes for their efforts were presented with almost the same density, culminating in the grand prize of the tournament of half a day of fishing. on Captain Ted Henley’s party boat, the Saltshaker, won by eight-year-old Eric Medeiros who landed a 22 3/4-inch rainbow trout, the biggest fish of the day.
Eric won not only the grand prize, with his oversized trout, but first prize in his eight-and-under age group, and hourly prize for his age group, finishing last in the first hour of the tournament, in the dawn arrives between 4 and 5 in the morning
The other big winners of the day in this age group were second place Tim Gilkes 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 in first with 15 1/8 inches; Eric Pachico, second with 14 3/4 inches; Jamie Alley, third at 14 1/2 inches; and Tim Costa, fourth with 14 1/8 inches. In the 12-15 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 Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Club to encourage and, in many cases, introduce children on the island to freshwater fishing. The State, which contributes to the stocking of ponds, also encourages their fishing to limit overpopulation and the resulting loss of food. The previous Tuesday, the state had stocked Mill Pond with about 400 speckled and brown trout and on Wednesday the fishing club had added 114 rainbow trout, including 10 super trout, ranging between three and five pounds. The Fishing Club had requested that no adult anglers fish in Mill Pond between 4 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, the closing date of the tournament, 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 fishing club committee supervising the children seemed to have almost as much ecstasy 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 well-rounded sense of enthusiasm and sense of responsibility. Although no children fell into the pond and no children were 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 latched on, the committee was ready for that too and the hook was quickly pulled out.
They also stood ready with extra hooks, bait, lines and sinkers, so no child was fishing for lack of equipment. When several largemouth bass, yellow perch and bluegill were brought in unannounced, the committee gently announced a new category of mystery prizes, as prizes abounded. In addition to the tournament winners, there were hourly winners whose names were announced over a megaphone loaned by the Oak Bluffs Police Department.
A scene vividly remembered – a commotion across Mill Pond, a rush of all the young anglers and their sponsors as a large fish is played on the shore and hoisted up with a net. A dense group of people on the bank, then David Roy, 12, walking down the road towards the weigh station, his 20 1/8 inch rainbow trout held well forward, and a dazzled, smug expression on his face. His proud father, club secretary and saltwater angler who wasn’t himself, stood by, shaking his head and muttering, “And he kept saying ‘there’s no fish in this pond'”.
From one of the committee members, “Well, there’s another convert to freshwater fishing.”
Many prizes were donated by local stores, and Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Club is grateful to everyone who supported the tournament.
When committee members arrived at Mill Pond at 4 a.m., they found about 20 young fishermen already fully engaged.
Compiled by Hilary Wallcox