News  DMF Hosts another Successful Saltwater Fishing Derby

  • Division of Marine Fisheries
Mike Pieropan with a 39 inch bluefish, one of the many Saltwater Fishing Derby winners.

The Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Derby has a longstanding history that adds a splash of competition to every fishing season in Massachusetts. The derby, also known as the Governor’s Cup, was hosted by the Division of Tourism until 1983, when it was passed on to the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). More recently, in 2017, DMF made a few changes to the popular Saltwater Fishing Derby. We lowered the minimum Junior weigh-in qualifying weights for many species to give young anglers a better chance at catching a Derby winning fish. We also expanded the Catch & Release part of the Derby for anglers who prefer not to harvest a fish. This addition allows these fishers a chance to showcase their angling skills while keeping with the wide-spreading angling trend of catch and release fishing. 

The Derby has also expanded to include 32 eligible species for weigh-in and catch and release awards. Anglers must catch a fish that meets or exceeds the minimum qualifying length or weight in order to be considered for a Derby pin. At the end of each season we now present an Angler of The Year award. This special annual award is given out to both the Adult and Junior anglers who have the most Derby winning fish: weigh-in, catch and release, or combined.

The 2023 Derby concluded on November 30. There was a lot of participation, and we wrapped up the season with a total of 40 winners.  Among the many highlights of the year, the Junior Angler of the Year entered nine winning fish! Derby participants entered some exceptional catches this season, including several large tuna, a sailfish, and a false albacore that was just two ounces shy of tying the state record!  

A Derby ceremony will be held on January 13, 2024, at the New England Boat Show in Boston to celebrate the winners. Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Tom O’Shea, DMF Director Dan McKeirnan, and DMF Assistant Director Mike Armstong will present awards and certificates to the winning anglers. An ice cream social will follow for the lucky anglers and their families. 

The 2024 Derby starts January 1. It’ll be a little while before the fish return to our waters, but it’s a good time to come up with a strategy for catching a pin fish in the coming year. Let’s hope the new season brings us excellent fishing weather and plenty of trophy fish! 

By John Boardman and Neil McCoy 

  • Division of Marine Fisheries 

    The Division of Marine Fisheries manages the state’s commercial and recreational saltwater fisheries and oversees other services that support the marine environment and fishing communities.
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