How to catch snappers
It’s really easy. You need a light fishing pole, with or without a reel, some snapper hooks, a bobber and some bait. A silver lure works, too, but bait is better. You can catch them with a seine net. Don’t forget a bucket! Any local bait and tackle shop can hook you up. We made a whole bunch of bamboo rods. Just tie on about 10 feet of fishing line with a bobber and hook rig on the other end.
Where to catch snappers
Fishing is best when the tide is moving at deepwater spots like docks, marinas and channels, but even shallow water at the beach can work. Look for disturbances on the water surface, or little fish jumping to escape—there’s probably a school of snappers on the hunt! We took our friends down to this channel at a beach in Cutchogue and had a big snapper fishing party. Then we grilled them at a barbecue. Snapper meat is delicate, nice with just a bit of salt and a squeeze of lemon. They were delicious!
Snapper fishing is awesome! These small, fast, ferocious fish hunt in the seas around the East End; you can see them jumping and flashing silver as they chase tiny baitfish. When snappers are running strong with the tide, you can pull them in one after another and catch dinner in no time, or you can just say “Hi!” and let them go.
These fun fishing competitions for kids are held every year by themselves or as part of local festivals. All you do is turn up, pay a small fee and fish—those who get the biggest snapper in their age category win a prize. Last year, Meg Nye of Montauk won in her division at the Montauk Seafood Festival with a fish that was 8¼ inches long!
East Hampton—Harbor Marina Annual Derby, Gann Road town dock. Saturday, September 14, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Go to harbormarina.com and click on “sea social,” calendar, for listing and info.
Greenport—Greenport Harbor docks, at the annual Maritime Festival, September 20 and 21. See eastendseaport.org for details.
Montauk—Montauk Seafood Festival snapper derby, Montauk Basin. September 12 and 13, noon–5 p.m., montaukseafoodfestival.com
Riverhead—Peconic River behind Main Street, Saturday, September 8, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Riverhead Town Recreation Dept., 631.727.5744
Shelter Island—Saturday, August 30, hosted by the Shelter Island Lion’s Club and Binder Pools. shelterislandlions.org
How to eat snappers
You must first clean your snapper by removing the head, guts and scales. Go to YouTube and search “how to clean a snapper.” Rinse, dry, dust with flour and pan fry in oil or butter. For an outdoor grill, use a fish basket, or poke lots of holes in an aluminum pan. Carefully eat the meat on each side, watching for small bones. Otherwise, a grown-up can help.
Did you know?
Mid-size bluefish are called cocktail blues.
Snappers have milder-tasting and lighter-colored fillets than their older and larger relatives.
Snappers are baby bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) and are one of the most successful predators in our waters. They grow to well over 20 pounds.