The kids will vie for something competitive when you all fish together – the longest fish, the heaviest fish, the tastiest fish, the quickest catch, the final catch, who Dad loves best. Turn that potentially disruptive energy into a positive and design your next outing as a family fishing competition.
The rules can be serious or silly. They can involve encouraging your offspring to hone their fishing skills, or they can be designed to minimize bickering. They can be sober with strict parameters, or they can be meant to elicit giggles. Design a game that seems good for your clan. If doesn’t go well, that’s fine. Try a new tactic the next time. Here’s how to get started.
Spell out what’s important to you. Siblings, cousins and such can be cut-throat, after all. Toss out the words “good sportsmanship” as appropriate, and set your guidelines, which may include these standards:
Real fishing tournaments require a pay-in up front. Cash seems odd for a family tourney, but it might be worth asking every contestant to ante up something valuable. Why? To keep their attention. Otherwise, a bored child with nothing at stake might opt to sit by the captain, rod-free. If cash isn’t fair incentive, try for portable possessions from superhero figurines to the bag of candy snuck into backpacks before leaving home. If you’re stumped for ideas and your kids have smartphones, there’s your contribution. Put all the gizmos in a waterproof bag and have the charter staff lock them up. Everyone who quits has to wait an extra hour to get electronic machines back.
Mom, Dad, the professional guide or another objective adult should be pre-named Decider-in-Chief. Chances are, your charter captain will be most objective, or at least most trusted by everyone in the family, so consider him or her.
Choose a time frame – four hours, eight hours with a break for lunch, even six days if you’re out on the water for a week. End the contest exactly on the time pre-decided.
Maybe the 5-year-old starts with 3 points, or a head start. Compensate for nap time with extra points, or adjust in another way to allow for age and skill-set differences.
The real winner will have caught the most fish or the most amount of pounds, probably. If you want everyone to be a winner – it’s coddling but effective – conjure up additional categories on the fly: prettiest fish, ugliest fish, fish that looks most like Great Aunt Bertha, Best Effort, Best Attitude, Fewest Tantrums, Most New Skills Accomplished (maybe Brittany baited her own hook for the first time), Best Whistling While Fishing … . Go all in. This is about creating a positive experience for all.
Hand out what your troupe likes, whether that’s extra time for video games back home, a trip with three friends to the nearest arcade, the opportunity to choose the night’s restaurant for dinner, or first dibs on the boat or hotel shower. For some families, a bunch of frisbees from the dollar store will do the trick. Or try this: offer the right to write the official Instagram post, including a photo with the winner holding a fish and standing next to the captain and/or crew. Then again, even big ol’ bragging rights might work beautifully.
Most important, a family fishing competition should be a bonding experience. Set an example by being upbeat throughout. Be flexible, infuse humor, and let kids be kids as long as their behavior is safe. Creating a fun and fulfilling day is way more important than sticking to all the rules set out above. If you end on a positive note, you all come out victorious.
With a charter fishing expedition, the captain, and the crew will handle the busywork for you, from plotting the course to storing the catch. That leaves you free to participate in the tournament, or just lay back and enjoy the show. (But hey, store your smartphone too. Set a good example.) Search FishAnywhere.com for charter services that get high ratings with our users.
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Rona Gindin is a multimedia writer, editor and television personality covering a broad range of subjects for national and local media outlets. Working from an Orlando base, she’s Central Florida’s go-to source for information on the destination’s restaurants and attractions.
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