Fishing Derbies – Hooked on Fishing!

It’s a special opportunity to help kids catch their first fish. Fishing may seem like an easy task to those who fish often but for those who haven’t ever before a little help goes a very long way. Creating a successful first experience is key to creating a nature connection that lasts a lifetime.

Some Quick Tips for Newbies:

  1. Learn to Tie a Clinch Knot – you don’t want to lose your first fish because you made a sloppy knot.
  2. Use around a size 8 or 10 fishing hook – small hooks catch small and big fish! Too many kids try for the biggest fish in the pond with some wacky lure they found in a tackle box.
  3. Keep it Simple – Start with worms..aka fish bacon.

My best recommendation for gear to get started with would be

  • Size 8 or 10 bait holder hooks
  • 6 pound fishing line
  • 1/8 ounce split shot sinkers
  • Snap on round float bobbers
  • Bamboo rods without any reel

This summer we teamed up with NJ Fish and Wildlife’s Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs program and had a great experience.

The derbies I’m part of offer awards male and female age categories of 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15. Each age range has two award opportunities.

  • First Male and first female to catch a fish
  • Most fish caught for male and female


Tips for participants: Before the Derby begins…

  • Set up your spot along the water’s edge.
  • Please keep a distance from one another when casting so no one gets hooked.
  • Wear sunglasses/glasses if you have them to protect your eyes.

After you hear the start siren….

  • Look around to make sure the area is clear before you make a cast.
  • When you do catch a fish please be respectful and careful as you remove the hook. If you need assistance, please make sure to ask so an experienced angler can teach you the proper hook removal technique.
  • We recommend you remove the fish from the hook before bringing the fish to the tent and that you leave your gear at the edge of the water rather than walking or running with it.
  • You may place the fish in a bucket with water and speed walk over to the tent.
  • Please do not leave fish in a bucket to be counted at the end of the derby. When many fish are left in a bucket they often don’t survive.
  • As soon as you get back to your spot along the waters edge place the fish back in the water (and maybe catch it again).

Pointers for Handling and Unhooking Fish

  • Fish can be wiggly, splashy and slimy so if you need help unhooking fish please ask for assistance.
  • Wet your hands before handling a fish.
  • Never drag a fish on the ground as it destroys their protective coating.
  • Hold the fish as you would a baseball: firm enough that it won’t get loose, but not so tight that you can’t let go.
  • Turn the fish upside down to encourage it to stop wiggling so you can remove the hook.
  • Bend down to release the fish directly into the water and wait for it to take off.  

~ Most importantly have fun and enjoy your Parks! ~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s