Bellyful of Ice Cubes Disqualifies Leading Derby Fish

The Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby committee voted last week to disqualify the heaviest bluefish entered in its competition after it was found to contain ice cubes weighing 1.8 ounces in its stomach.

The Fish, caught by Stephen Pietruska of West Tisbury, weighed 13.86 pounds, exceeding the leading boat bluefish by .05 pounds.

The annual Derby awards prizes in both shore and boat divisions for bluefish, striped bass, false albacore and bonito. The top prize in the boat division is a new truck.

The ice cubes were discovered when Pietruska's fish was cut open and examined--a standard Derby procedure when a fish becomes a new category leader.

Pietruska said he did not know how the ice got into the fish's stomach, but suspected it occurred because he forced the fish with its mouth open into a cooler filled with ice.

The Martha's Vineyard Times reported that no further action would be taken by the Derby Committee, according to its official statement on the case.

"Although the angler's intent may have been to protect the freshness of his fish for the filet program and to reduce the loss of weight of his fish from catch to weigh-in, it is the responsibility of the angler to bring a fish to the Derby scale without any ice that may add additional weight to his catch.

"There was insufficient evidence to prove intent to deliberately increase the weight of the fish, so no further action is to be taken," read the official committee statement.