As Dockmaster at the Palm Beach Yacht Center, I’m honored to facilitate many fun events but my favorite is the Never-ending Fishing Derby. It’s a simple tournament beginning anew every three months, opened to all in-house slip and dry dock tenants. While there are three age categories competing, my favorites by far are the Pee Wee anglers ages seven and under. They steal the show every time.
Anglers compete for gifts cards, trophies and medals and are rewarded at the end of each round with a fun barbecue award ceremony. It is always exciting when the Pee Wees receive their medals and take the microphone to tell us all about their catches.
There are definitely no outlandish fish stories here. These Pee Wees speak the truth! I have been told, “My dad caught the fish and said tell Miss Jena you got him.” or “You have to get a little dirty to get the job done.” They always make me chuckle.
The Pee Wee anglers could not be prouder as I hang their pictures in the dock office. Each time they visit the office to get the daily fishing report, their small heads peek over the counter just to get a glimpse of themselves hanging on the derby board.
These little tykes are so much fun we have now included them in our major tournaments. Though the rules were altered to suit the young anglers – the biggest fish wins, period – just competing in the “real” tournaments is a big deal for the Pee Wees.
Recently I handed out to the Pee Wee participants, small trophies which had marlins on top. One angler actually handed his trophy back to me saying he had not caught a marlin yet! I assured him one day he would catch a marlin and besides, I didn’t have one with a jack atop. They are a hoot!
It is not all fun and games for these anglers. Along the way they have learned boating safety, rules of the water, what fishes are legal fish to take, and the proper way to release the fish without harming the catch. Identifying the fish has also become a fun game. They just don’t realize how much they are learning.
Their enthusiasm is contagious! They make me smile every single day.
Jena Bradley, Dock Master
(Written by Terry Boram)