How to keep fishing fun for all: a simple system for cruising yachts

Picture this: a stunning sunny day, anchored in a sheltered bay, glass of wine in one hand, Cruising Helmsman magazine in the other, kids and their friends fishing off the back of the boat. I am just about to fall asleep, ahhh the serenity…

When suddenly… “Mum! I’ve got one, I’ve caught a fish! Help!”

I jump up to assist, spilling my wine in the process.

“Mum! Mum! Where is the net?”

The fish gets quickly reeled in to the boat flipping around on the seats, knocks over the fish hook container, now the deck is covered in hooks with bare footed children hopping up and down with the excitement.

“Mum! Where is the bucket? I need a cloth!”

Fish scales everywhere, one of the kids emerges with my favourite and only clean face cloth and promptly wraps it around the slippery fish and rips the hook out of its mouth.

“Quick Mum find the measurer!”

Tip-toeing around the loose fish hooks scattered throughout the cockpit and rummaging around in the lockers, do you think
I can find the damn fish measurer? I need to make sure the fish is legal size.

Finally I find the measurer, but get all tangled up in fishing line in the process. Thankfully the fish is the legal size and I have also found a bucket in the process. However, the deck is now covered in blood. Not sure whether the blood belongs to the fish or the children.

I am just about to pick up my magazine and resume the relaxing position when: “help! I have caught another one!”

Yes, that was us on our summer holidays aboard Wildwood in the Marlborough Sounds last year. Sounds relaxing does it not?

Now do not get me wrong. I am more than happy to dangle a rod in the water and I am even happier to eat freshly caught fish for dinner.

It is just the bit in the middle that I have the most trouble with.

When my son was four, I bought him a fishing rod for Christmas and then cruelly gave him a cork to use as bait so I could avoid having to deal with any fish or hook injuries. He still has not forgiven me for that.

I have progressed from there and am now able to bait hooks and even remove fish, but I still get a bit sad when they have to be killed. Thankfully I now have a partner that can do that bit for me. But with such keen fishing kids on board, I needed a better system.

So I created: the fish bin system.

This simple system has revolutionised fishing on board Wildwood. You too can create a simple system to catch a delicious fish for your dinner without messing up your boat!

The key to the fish bin system is its two parts.

Firstly, head down to your local hardware store and buy yourself two decent sized bins that stack inside one another. While you are there see if you can find a plastic chopping board that will fit nicely in the bottom.

Then head along to your local fishing store and ask if they have a measuring sticker and any fish identification charts. In New Zealand we have very strict fishing regulations, so it is really important to both know what it is that you have caught and then ensure that it meets the minimum size requirements.

If you can get a measuring tape sticker, stick it in the bottom of one of your bins, or alternatively use a ruler to make your own marks.

But wait there’s more!

When you get home, gather together all your various fishing related paraphernalia; fish hooks, sinkers, filleting knife, fishing line, lures, net, rods and anything else that might come in handy. Put them all in the other bin.

Get a permanent marker and write ‘FISH’ on a couple of old dishcloths and on your dedicated fish chopping board. This should hopefully avoid any further use of your favourite linen in the fishing process.

Now just stack the bin with all the stuff inside the empty bin. Voila! Your fish bin system is ready to go.

Just grab the package along with the rods and unstack the bins. Once you have caught a fish just drop it carefully in the empty bin to easily measure it without it flipping scales all over the cockpit.

No more blood on the deck, no more hooks in your feet, no more hunting through lockers to find the bucket or measurer. Everything is all-together in one place ready to go.

Happy fishing everyone.

Viki Moore

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