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The Snappers of Summer
By Rich Johnson

With the dog days of August upon us, it won’t be long before the kids are back at school and I’m sure many of them are already counting the days till summer vacation is over. I can still remember those days gone by where we’d stay out late sitting on the stoop or curb with friends, wondering where the time went by and how we would make the most of the few days left till the school bell rings.

My favorite way to pass those days was to hit the local docks and go snapper fishing. Juvenile bluefish or snappers as we call them are easy to catch and fun for the whole family. Snapper fishing has always been a fantastic way of introducing children to the sport of fishing. You can find them around any of the local docks, piers or pilings of the entire tri-state area as these mini-eating machines wreck havoc on anything that moves or they can fit into their mouths. They are easy to please, easy to catch and very interesting to look at with bright yellow eyes and lots of teeth. Just the sort of creature little kids love to look at. Snapper fishing allows youngsters at the age of interest to wet a line in what could become a passion for life.

The tackle to catch these fun fish is very inexpensive and easy to use. A simple cane pole, bobber and hook is all that is really needed, but using small spincasting reels or setups is a great way to teach them casting coordination. Just a small snapper hook with a piece of spearing or squid and cast it into the water. Snappers seem to know where any bait appears and they will come running and fast. Even adults get in on the action with ultra-light spinning tackle and small shiny spoons or tins. If you choose small tins, the best I’ve come across is the Snapper Zapper by Dolphin Fishing Tackle here on Long Island. They’re available at all local bait & tackle shops along with a host of other Dolphin Tackle products designed just for snappers.

All over Long Island there are many Snapper Derbies where kids get involved for free and learn a few lessons in life. Besides casting and catching, they learn some fun competitive skills and they learn sportsmanship and how to mingle with others. I have included a few of the well known snapper derbies I have been associated with over the years. These derbies are free to all, supply many prizes for kids and have been around a long time so they are run correctly. Take the kids to a few of them and enjoy the last few days of summer vacation they have left and remember, anglers must follow the same regulations as bluefish…only 10 snappers per day

Mastic Beach Yacht Club Derby. Saturday, August 19 and is for children ages 6 to 12 and cost $2 which includes bait, a hot & soda with prizes and trophies in four category. Info call 631-395-5432.

Captree Snapper Derby. This runs two days, usually the last weekend in August before the kids head back to school, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The event is free and open to kids from 2 to 102. There are five places for prizes and they are awarded each of the two days. For info call 631-661-0049.

Babylon Tuna Club Derby. The last Saturday in August and starts at 9 a.m. This free derby is for children age 12 and under with free prizes, hot dogs and soda. They supply bait and all you have to do is bring you own tackle. They have trophies and refreshments at the Babylon Village Dock. For info call 631-586-0540.

Molnar’s Landing Derby. This event gets under way Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3. The event is free and children from 4 to 16 are invited to attend as are the adults who bring children and they have a contest for adults too. Trophies and prizes are awarded with ice cream for the children and a large barbecue. For info call 631-728-1860. This is all done with cane poles with at the dock with free bait and tackle.

Riverhead Snapper Derby: This derby takes place on Saturday, September 8 and is slated to start at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There are two divisions, under 16 years of age or 16 and over. Meet in the Peconic River parking lot and the fee is $10 for adults and $5 for juniors. Free T-shirts to the 100 registrants and they can register in advance or the day of. Rod and reel and combos the first place in each division and trophies and awards for the rest of the winners. There are raffles available for further prizes. There will be vendors for refreshments. For info you can call the Riverhead Recreation Dept. at 631-727-5744.

Glen Cove Snapper Derby. September 15 at the Hempstead Harbor Park Pier in Port Washington. Ages 16 & under and this event is free. It runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and all entrants receive a free T-shirts. Prizes are given to boys & girls for most snappers and the first caught snapper. For info call 516-676-7120 or 676-9543.

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