Ideas and tips for planning a successful fishing derby this summer season.
A fishing derby is a fun event for kids & families to get out and enjoy the weather during the lazy summer months. With a little research and planning, you can create an event that reels them in year after year.
Choose a waterfront that has plenty of open space for participants, spectators, and volunteers. A small stocked pond or lake is best for fishing derbies geared for kids-only events, while rivers and larger lakes may be a better option for adult amateur fishermen. Get permission from parks and recreation or the owner of the land to have the event there. In most cases you will need to apply for a special permit or insurance. Do your research on the rules and regulations and contact your state’s department of natural resources for info on fishing licenses, tags, and permits prior to arranging your event.
Before choosing your date, make sure that there are no other conflicting events going on in the area the same weekend. If there happens to be a county fair or town festival, see if you can make your fishing derby part of that larger event. The beginning of June is National Fishing Week and a great time to host a fishing-related event!
Create a website to promote your event. If you are not able to create a site, submit your event to other websites as well as the local chamber of commerce and park districts, asking them to add it to their community calendars. Add your event to sports registration sites like Active.com or SignMeUp.com. Create an ad in the local paper, hang signs, banners, etc. If you have sponsors, ask for them to promote your event on their website and communications. Create a Facebook group or event page. Include photos of last year’s fishing derby, start/end date, award categories, location, cost, registration details and all other details (what to wear, bring, expectations). Be as detailed as possible in your promotional materials and get the word out!
Chairs and tables will need to be rented or borrowed. A tent is also a good idea to provide shade for volunteer workers or participants. If you choose a location that does not have rest rooms, you may need to rent portable toilets.
Arrange for plenty of water, or other beverages, and snacks. Find a sponsor to donate these items. You can either do a buffet style food table, or pre-pack individual lunch bags.
- Awards & Raffles
Offering awards is a terrific way to reward participants. Try to offer awards in different age groups or categories. Awards for heaviest fish or smallest fish add an element of fun and competition. Order trophies, ribbons or plaques with the event name, date, and location. You may also want to give away a participant ribbon for everyone who signs up, especially for kid’s fishing derbies. In addition, raffle and door prizes are a fun addition to any event, and anyone can win!
Don’t forget the photos! Hiring a professional photographer is a great way to get quality photographs of your fishing derby. If you cannot afford to hire a professional, find a volunteer or hobbyist photographer.
Photo souvenirs are great keepsake items for participants. Customize an inexpensive paper photo folder or cardboard frame to giveaway. In addition, these photos are also great marketing tools to promote your event next year! Take candid shots of the fishermen in action, as well as posed shots with their catch. For kid’s events, have a volunteer dress up in costume as a fish or other fun character.
Make sure to supply live bait or fishing lures. You may also want to have back-up poles and other essentials just in case. Music can add to a fun atmosphere, as well as balloons and decorations. Goodie bags and additional giveaway promos are added extras that can make your event stand apart. The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation offers a free Take Me Fishing™ Event Planning Kit.
The key to a successful fishing derby is generating repeat participants and growth. If you plan it right, families will want to come back year after year and make it an annual event that they look forward to participating in. You may want to take it a step further and use your event’s popularity and exposure to raise money for a local charity. Each fishing derby is as unique as it’s director and volunteers. With a strong team and creative vision, your fishing derby can be a memorable community event.