By Peter Sloggatt
Fishing is important to the Suffolk County Senior Citizens Fishing Club and the Imperial Sportsmen’s Club of Long Island members. They want the next generation to think so too. So every year for nearly two decades now they’ve put together a free fishing trip to introduce kids to salt water fishing and teach them about the importance of environmental conservation.
This year’s “Take A Kid Fishing” day – the 18th organized by the two clubs – took off Wednesday afternoon from the Huntington Town dock at Halesite Marina. On board the James Joseph II charter boat, Captain James Schneider and his crew, along with volunteers from the fishing clubs welcomed a group of eager youngsters ready for a day on the water. The kids ranged from 9 to 13 years old and had been selected in a lottery drawing held a few weeks ago.
Schneider donates the fishing trip each year as a way of sharing his love of the sport and the open water.
“We want to get more and more kids involved in fishing and the environment,” Schneider said. “I’ve been fishing in this town since I was two years old. Having the opportunity to give 30 free fishing trips away to kids from our community each year is a small way for us to show our appreciation to the town for everything they’ve given to us.”
In addition to the boat trip, Schneider supplied fishing equipment and bait, as well as a crew to assist and educate the boys and girls.
Volunteers from the fishing clubs – Jim Howard and Jerry Giuseppone of Suffolk County Senior Citizens Fishing Club, and John Schoenig and Bob Gordon of Imperial Sportsmen’s Club of Long Island – shared their love of the sea and fishing as well.
“Fishing allows a person to commune with nature, have quiet time to reflect, socialize, develop patience, skills and self-confidence. These are all great things for youth,” Jim Howard of the Suffolk County Senior Citizens’ Fishing Club said. “It also shows how people relate to nature and conservation. That is why … [we] sponsor the Take a Kid Fishing program.”
Imperial Sportsmen’s Club of Long Island’s John Schoenig echoed the thought.
“We want to give back to the community, show the youngsters the fun of salt water fishing and teach them about conservation and preserving our natural resources,” Schoenig said.
Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci was dockside to see the boat off.
“I want to thank the Suffolk County Senior Citizens Fishing Club and the Imperial Sportsmen’s Club of Long Island for donating their time to educate these kids about fishing and conservation and special thanks to Captain James Schneider of the James Joseph II for donating this prime time from his business for these children to expose them to this great American pastime,” Lupinacci said.
The supervisor also gave a shout-out to resident Paul Travaglia who arranged for Di Raimo’s Pizzeria to deliver hot pizzas to the boat before it launched.
Suffolk County Senior Citizens’ Fishing Club is a non-profit organization dedicated to conservation of Long Island waters. The group is based out of the Senior Citizen Beach House in Centerport.