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If it's August, it's time for snappers around Long Island

It’s always mid-August when the topic of catching snapper blues comes to mind for local dock and shore anglers. Some years, the silvery fish are in good supply before the first “back to school” advertisements appear on television.

This year they seemed to be a little behind, but that’s changed recently as a flood of the small, toothy predators finally moved within casting range.

“It’s been good,” said Theo Zmach at Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh of catches on the western South Shore at Wantagh Park, Seamans Neck, the Jones Beach piers and Green Island pier. Most of the fish are in the six-inch size class and growing quickly. Spearing and snapper poppers have been the best baits.”

Farther east on the South Shore, many docks between Islip and Sayville have also seen good fishing. West Sayville Dock and Mascot Dock in Patchogue have been particularly productive while catches at Shinnecock Canal are just heating up. The entire stretch is also giving up some kingfish, blowfish and plenty of blue claw crabs.

Along the North Shore, Blaise Rufino at Duffy’s Bait and Tackle in Glenwood Landing said local anglers were scoring with the little blues at Pryibil and Tappan beaches. “They are big enough to keep now and biting well on incoming water.”

Cedar Beach at Mount Sinai Harbor is another North Shore hot spot for the small blues, and Sue Flora at Miller Place Bait and Tackle said her customers were doing well there casting snapper poppers tipped with spearing.

If you’d like to enter a snapper fishing derby this weekend you’re in luck. The Jones Beach Kid’s Snapper Derby is set for Saturday at Jones Beach Field 10, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. There are three age groups: six and under, seven to 11 and 12 to 15. Entry is $15 and includes a Jones Beach Fishing Piers shirt or hat.

While the young blues have lit up the dock scene, fluke fishing continues to draw plenty of attention. The biggest summer flatties seem to be at opposite ends of Long Island with Montauk and Cholera Banks the hot spots.

Mike Pehrsson of Islip and friends rolled the dice and headed for Montauk last Sunday to fish aboard Capt. Tyler Quaresimo’s Simple Life Charters (https://simplelifecharter.com/). They hit a beautiful day but found the fluke bite had slipped a bit, most likely due to three consecutive days of east winds.

Still, working water depths that ranged from under 50 feet to over 110 feet deep, Quaresimo pulled together an interestingly diverse catch. All six anglers managed a keeper fluke, several sea bass and some fat ling.

Also ending up in the box were some big porgies, a 10-pound pollack — plus a bonito that struck near the bottom in 100 feet of water! The top fluke for the trip was about 6 pounds.

“You have to trust your game plan and keep grinding on tough days,” said the skipper. “There’s some really big fluke here now so it’s worth putting in the time and effort. Fish bucktails on slower tidal stages when currents run under 2 miles per hour. Use long leaders with bait and a Capt. Bill’s Floating Bucktail teaser if the current pushes faster than 2 miles per hour. Right now, that’s the ticket to bigger fluke.”

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