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It’s A Small Snapper Derby World

Tom Murcott, a Mill River Rod & Gun Club (MRR&GC) member, was watching his son, Matt Murcott, and Matt Jones catching bait for the entrants of the annual Snapper Derby on Sept. 6. The event, sponsored by the MRR&GC has been going on for 30 years, said Kenny Warren, a past president and now Sergeant at Arms of the club. For about the past dozen years it has been known as the James Carroll Snapper Derby in his honor. He was one of the club’s founding members and loved fishing. The family members are continuing the tradition in honor of their parents, Pat and Jimmy Carroll of Bayville.

As an added benefit to the Derby, they hold a 50/50 for the benefit of the Matthew Fetzer Toy Drive.

“This year we raised about $500 for the fund,” said Deirdre Carroll. “I am one of eight Carrolls here, I married into the family.”

The fishing event held at Bayville Beach on West Harbor Drive attracts each year, between 80 and 90 children, all under 12, said Warren, who grew up in East Norwich and is Rene and Mel Warren’s son.

Each child in the Snapper Derby gets a name tag and a number. The number was a big help when Jacob Johnson, number 17, caught the first snapper, about 8 inches long. He is the son of Town Councilwoman Michele Capetola Johnson, Esq. She was appointed by Supervisor John Venditto in June, to replace Councilwoman Beth Faughnan of Locust Valley, who resigned in March, after seven years to become the NuHealth deputy executive director, the group that runs the Nassau University Medical Center.

Johnson attended Oyster Bay-East Norwich Elementary and Middle School and graduated from Friends Academy in 1992. A graduate of Syracuse University, she got her J.D. at New York Law School. She is running for office the first time in November.

And, speaking of family connections: Michele is the sister of Jean Warren, Kenny’s son Randy’s wife. And, FYI: father-in-law Mel is in charge of the Arts & Crafts tents at the annual Oyster Festival, Oct. 19 and 20.

Seining For Killies

Saturday morning at 10 a.m., Matt Murcott and Matt Jones were using a seining net to scoop up killies. The little silver fish jumped and sparkled in the sun as they pulled the net onto the beach and scooped them up. Teens Bill Jones and Sean Carroll helped the boys pour the jumping silvery fish into a bait bucket. Snappers, little blues, like them.  Although they look too small to eat, something like sardines, Pete DeNatale said he fries the killies at the clubhouse for a delicious treat.

“I’m not allowed to tell you the recipe,” he said.

There were lots of fathers and sons at the Derby and Dierdre Carroll said the event is to provide children with a knowledge of fishing.

“There are some girls too, who take part in the derby. We use two docks. Some bring their own spin poles where they toss them into the water and they use a separate dock. You can’t use spin poles where the others are casting,” she said.

She explained the MRR&GC puts out the money for the prizes, snacks, soda and water: there is no cost for the kids. There were about eight winners. They are judged by the size of fish they catch. When they sign in they get a pole and a killie. Many brought along their own bait to keep on fishing. That included dad Chris Corey of Bayville who brought along a bag of killies he got at the bait shore. He was there with his sons, the youngest Christian and Cole and Charles.

The Snapper Derby fishing contest began at 11 a.m. and by noon the youngsters were at the MRR&GC receiving their awards along with lunch including snacks, Gatorade and Boarshead hot dogs supplied by Patty and Tommy Craft of Bayville. “Every year they donate them,” said Kenny.

The MNR&GC supplies the bamboo poles set up with bobbers and Snapper hooks. They store them in the clubhouse attic for next year’s event.

Fishing History

Greeting people was Councilman Chris Coschignano whose Italian grandfather worked on the estates. When there were too many men there with the same name as his, the foreman said he would call him “Fish” and for many years, that is the name the Oyster Bay family used. Coschignano said the next day, Sunday, Sept. 10, he was taking his sons, Angelo, 5 and Luca 8 fishing. He said the previous Sunday, he and his eight-year-old son were at Soundside Beach catching killies.

Coschignano said he is planning to take part in the annual Supervisor’s 5K race that opens the Oyster Festival on Saturday morning, Oct. 19. He is trying to organize a charity run along with it to benefit the Wounded Warriors and is asking friends and family to run or walk the course with him to raise the funds.

Tom Murcott (whose father, Richard, was mayor of Muttontown for eight years) also had future sports plans. He was looking forward to the Town of Oyster Bay Bluefish Tournament on Sept. 16.  “It’s about my favorite thing that the town does,” he said. He invited Matt Jones to join him and his son. The older boys Bill Jones and Sean Carroll were also planning on going.

Also attending were several town officials running for office this year. They included Councilman Joe Pinto, running for another four-year term. He said the Supervisor’s term is for two years. Jim Altadonna, Jr. is running for his job as Town Clerk; he is the former Massapequa Park Mayor and was appointed to replace Steven Labriola who moved on to work with Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos. Also greeting the public were Councilwoman Johnson and District Court Judge Rhonda Fischer, who said one of the hot issues she sees presently, is drug and prescription pill abuse and that on the North Shore it is rampant.