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Family-friendly fishing spots

Showing off a fish caught at Cedar Beach

Showing off a fish caught at Cedar Beach Marina in Babylon. Photo Credit: Handout, 2009

Enjoy a memorable day with the kids at these five family-friendly fishing spots.


1. PORT WASHINGTON TOWN DOCK

347 Main St., Port Washington

HOURS 7 a.m. till midnight

COST Free

TYPE OF WATER Saltwater bay

WHAT YOU MIGHT CATCH Flounder, striped bass, blue fish

BEST BAIT Bunker. There's a 24-hour bait vending machine at Atlantic Outfitters, 405 Main St. #2, 516-767-2215

GEAR Medium rod with a couple of ounces of weight and a bluefish or striped bass hook

WHY IT'S FAMILY FRIENDLY Stroll Inspiration Wharf, the nearby waterfront shopping and dining area, and find everything from ice cream cones to boat rentals.

INSIDER TIP The bite is usually better on an incoming tide.

WHERE TO EAT Try Ayhan's Mediterranean Marketplace & Café for a variety of gourmet deli choices.


2. HEMPSTEAD LAKE STATE PARK

Southern State Parkway, West Hempstead

HOURS Sunrise to sunset

COST $8 parking fee

TYPE OF WATER Freshwater lake and ponds

WHAT YOU MIGHT CATCH Bass, pickerel, perch, crappie, bluegill, carp, sunfish, catfish

BEST BAIT Night crawlers. The park doesn't sell bait, so try Long Island Outdoorsman, 434 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre, 516-678-5554.

GEAR A light 51 / 2- or 6-foot spinning rod and 10- or 12-pound line. Use a size 8 hook.

WHY IT'S FAMILY FRIENDLY The park has a carousel and playgrounds across the street from the main lake.

INSIDER TIP Easy access, plenty of benches and bulkheading all the way around make the man-made, trout-stocked McDonald's Pond in Field 3 the best spot for fishing with smaller kids.

WHERE TO EAT The concession stand opens at 11:30 a.m. and sells kid-friendly fare such as burgers, chips and ice cream.


3. GUY LOMBARDO MARINA

898 Guy Lombardo Ave., Freeport

HOURS Sunrise to sunset

COST Free

TYPE OF WATER Saltwater channel

WHAT YOU MIGHT CATCH Fluke, striped bass, bluefish

BEST BAIT Killifish, clams, bunker.

Try Woodcleft Fishing Station, 447 Woodcleft Ave., 516-378-8748

GEAR Spinning rod

WHY IT'S FAMILY FRIENDLY When you're done fishing, head to the other side of the canal to stroll the Nautical Mile, play at Crow's Nest Mini Golf and grab a frozen treat from Ralph's Italian Ices.

INSIDER TIP The best time to fish is early morning, before the boat traffic comes through.

WHERE TO EAT For fresh seafood in a casual setting, try the Woodcleft Crab Shack at 150 Woodcleft Ave.


4. COLD SPRING HARBOR FISH HATCHERY & AQUARIUM

1660 Rte. 25A, Cold Spring Harbor

HOURS 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m., 516-692-6768

COST On Father's Day, it's free admission for dads when accompanied by their kids. Non-dad adults are $6, kids are $4. Fishing fee is $5. It's catch-and-keep only, $4 per fish.

TYPE OF WATER Freshwater pond

WHAT YOU MIGHT CATCH Brook and rainbow trout

BEST BAIT Night crawlers

GEAR You can bring your own (no fly fishing rods) or you can rent a pole, hook and bobber from the hatchery. Purchase additional gear at the gift shop.

WHY IT'S FAMILY FRIENDLY Non-fishing family members will appreciate the two aquarium buildings and eight outdoor ponds where they can see freshwater reptiles, amphibians and fish and feed the trout.

INSIDER TIP The fishing platform has a 12-person limit, and it's first come, first served, so go early.

WHERE TO EAT Pack lunch. There are picnic tables, but the hatchery doesn't sell food.


5. FORT POND BAY PARK NAVY ROAD, MONTAUK

HOURS Half an hour before sunrise till sunset.

TYPE OF WATER Saltwater bay

WHAT YOU MIGHT CATCH Blues, porgies, snappers

BEST BAIT Clams, sandworms and bunker -- but artificial lures might serve you better. Try Paulie's Tackle of Montauk, 131 S. Edgemere St., 631-668-5520.

GEAR Surf fishing rod, bucktails, tins and plugs

WHY IT'S FAMILY FRIENDLY Outdoor fun at this 22-acre park includes hiking trails and a small launch ramp for a kayak or canoe.

INSIDER TIP You'll have better luck when the tide is coming in or going out than during slack tides.

WHERE TO EAT Pack a lunch and eat at the picnic tables, or take a short drive into Montauk Village for a variety of restaurant choices.


GET A FISHING LICENCE

If you're 16 or older, you're subject to New York State fishing regulations. To check requirements, fees, seasons and limits, visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/fishing.html.


ENDANGERED FISH

Kids today have a unique opportunity to save the planet from a scary fate: a future filled with toxic, orange-colored seawater, ruled by jellyfish populations run amok -- a future in which fish disappear, then seabirds, then reptiles, then mammals. It sounds far-fetched, but it's no fish tale, says Mark Kurlansky, author of "World Without Fish" (Workman, $16.95). Consider these fishy facts:

* Scientists say the number of large fish in the ocean has decreased by 90 percent over the past 50 years.

* The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest known concentration of floating trash in the world, located between Japan and the United States. Estimates of its size range from one-eighth to twice the size of the United States. It's made up mostly of plastics that are poisonous to fish.

* A fish can lay millions of eggs, but have only one to six surviving babies.

With accessible language and rich illustrations, Kurlansky's book invites young and curious readers to the grown-up table to discuss the urgent matter of marine conservation, while reassuring them that it's not too late: Kids have the power to make a difference.

Kurlansky will read from "World Without Fish" at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Quogue Library, 90 Quogue St., 631-653-4224, ext. 4. He will appear with his 10-year-old daughter and fishing buddy, Talia. A question-and-answer period will follow, and autographed copies will be available for sale; $15 for adults, kids are free. -- KRISTIN TAVEIRA

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