The Silver Assassin

Never tried snapper fishing? Tsk, tsk.
Eleven-year-old Ellis Whiteson from New York City caught a 20-pound striped bass on a bunker chunk while fishing from the beach at the Sea Crest Resort on the Napeague stretch. Jonathan Whiteson

Bluefish are born mean. A snapper, or juvenile bluefish, will attack just about any lure thrown its way. This silver assassin’s impulsive behavior and voracious appetite make it the perfect target for kids, first-time anglers, and those who just want to have some summer angling fun without committing whole hog to the sport. Even a grizzled surfcaster can enjoy fishing for snappers with an ultralight rod and reel. 

Never tried snapper fishing? Tsk, tsk. 

The gear can’t be any simpler. You can thoroughly enjoy catching snappers with an inexpensive spinning rod, reel, and must-have snapper popper. If you’re fishing with young children or someone who can’t cast a line then dispense with the popper and grab a float, long-shank snapper hooks, and a package of frozen spearing bait. Little ones love watching the red and white bobber unexpectedly disappear from the surface when a snapper grabs the baited hook. Snapper rods designed for kids are available in a variety of cool colors, so be prepared for “this-one-no-that-one” negotiations during the purchasing process. A local tackle shop is the best place to buy the right equipment and to get up-to-the-minute advice on where to catch the baby blues. 

Snapper hooks are very sharp and should be kept outside of the reach of small fingers attempting to touch a flopping fish. Avoid using lures with treble hooks, which are dangerous around kids and difficult to remove from the mouth of a small fish. Kids notice how adults treat their catch, so gently releasing the fish can be a teachable moment for future sharpies.

Snappers can be found terrorizing small baitfish in local harbors and along bay beaches. Maidstone Park on Three Mile Harbor, Little Albert’s Landing beach in Amagansett, and Long Beach in Sag Harbor are perennial hotspots for snappers.

There’s not much meat on a snapper, but it’s tasty compared to the oily flesh of its mature siblings. Links to some online recipes can be found at the @EHSTARFISHING Twitter feed. 

If you want to keep a few fish for the table, be aware that the daily possession limit per person is 15 fish, of which no more than 10 can be below 12 inches long, according to current New York State Department of Environmental Conservations regulations. 

Participating in a local Snapper Derby is a rite of passage for many East End kids and a wonderful way to introduce a child to fishing. The Shelter Island Snapper Derby is great family fun and proceeds go to charity. Participants receive commemorative T-shirts, trophies, and, of course, grilled snapper. The 2016 Snapper Derby is scheduled for Sept. 3. Details are available at shelterislandsnapperderby.org. Harbor Marina on Gann Road in East Hampton has scheduled its 2016 Snapper Derby for Sept. 11. Details will be announced shortly. 

The daily possession limit for black sea bass will increase to eight fish per person effective next Thursday, according to current D.E.C. regulations. The size limit remains at 15 inches total length.

A harmful level of blue-green algae has been detected in Hook Pond in East Hampton according to a notice posted at the Highway Behind the Pond access area. Do not fish, swim, or kayak in the pond until this dangerous condition has disappeared. Keep pets away from the water as well. 

Ken Morse at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor reported that weakfish continue to eat strips of squid presented on Hi-Lo rigs in Peconic Bay and that big bluefish are harassing pods of bunker in Gardiner’s Bay.

Dave Reutershan at Gone Fishing Marina in Montauk reported a steady fluke and sea bass bite in the rips and at Shagwong. Striped bass continue to take eels, and anglers braving the wind found cod at Cartwright Shoal. The offshore bite remains disappointing, though one boat returning from Fish Tales caught two white marlin at C.I.A., added Dave.

Sebastian Gorgone at Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton reported lots of snappers in and around Three Mile Harbor and fluke off Goff Point in Gardiner’s Bay. Anglers throwing chunks of clam on Georgica beaches are finding a striped bass here and there along with skates and dogfish, he added.

Harvey Bennett at the Tackle Shop in Amagansett reported that 11-year-old Ellis Whiteson from New York City caught a 20-pound striped bass on a bunker chunk while fishing from the beach at the Sea Crest Resort on the Napeague stretch. Blowfish are still in the bay and striped bass around 30 inches can be found at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett. There are reports of false albacore around Fort Pond Bay and along ocean beaches, Bennett said.

The most interesting catch of the week was a smooth puffer, which is typically found closer to Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. Ed Letsch caught a 4.4-pound specimen while fishing for sea bass in the north rips off Montauk Point. Parts of the smooth puffer contain dangerous neurotoxins, which can kill humans if consumed. Two weeks ago a smooth puffer was landed and released off the Jersey Shore. 


Follow The Star’s fishing columnist on Twitter, @ehstarfishing. Photos of prize catches can be emailed to David Kuperschmid at fishreport@ehstar.com.

A Correction

The name of Capt. Tom Federico’s boat, on which he recently caught a 46-inch striper, was given incorrectly in a photo caption last week. It was the Surfmaster.

Ed Letsch caught a 4.4-pound smooth puffer, typically found closer to Bermuda, while fishing for sea bass in the north rips off Montauk Point. Parts of the smooth puffer contain dangerous neurotoxins, which can kill humans if consumed. Gone Fishing Marina