Fishing on Long Island: Where Kids and Families Can Drop a Line
Fishing is a fun outdoor family activity with deep roots in Long Island's maritime history and culture. Surrounded by the sea, kids on Long Island can drop a line at a number of waterfront communities, beaches, local piers, boats, and parks. We've rounded up a few of our favorite family-friendly fishing venues, where kids can test your skills and perhaps hook the catch of the day.
Don't forget to follow local regulations and to scoop up a free fishing permit from the state. A permit is not required for kids younger than 16. There are unique permits for freshwater and saltwater fishing, however
Family-Friendly Fishing Destinations in Nassau County
Hempstead Lake State Park — West Hempstead
Fish from either South or McDonald ponds, where trout are stocked regularly in the fall. Bass, perch, carp, and sunfish are also regularly found here in season. The New York State Parks Department hosts some family fishing clinics throughout the year here. There are also tennis courts, children's playgrounds, basketball courts, bridle trails for horseback riding, biking and hiking trails, shaded picnic areas, and a historic hand-carved wooden carousel. Without an Empire Pass, daily parking fees apply.
Kids can choose from among four fishing piers at Jones Beach Field 10.
Jones Beach Fishing Pier, Field 10 — Wantagh
Head to Field 10 at Jones Beach State Park and pick a pier. Four "finger" piers jut out in peninsula formation, so there's no overcrowding. A few feet away, The Fishing Station has all your bait and tackle needs, plus drinks, coffee, burgers and sandwiches. Bathrooms are also located here. Before you go, head to the beach for some sandy fun or experience hands-on learning at the Jones Beach nature center, cool off at the splash pad, or hit WildPlay's new adventure park and zipline. Without the Empire Pass, daily parking fees apply.
Magnolia Pier — Long Beach
Long Beach isn't only a beach hot spot. Its local fishing pier, known as Magnolia Pier after its address, is open year-round and is super popular. There's free parking, restrooms during weekday business hours, and even a snack bar at the ice arena. But most importantly fishermen and fisherwomen know they're likely to score a good catch here. In late fall and winter, herring is the catch of choice.
Attention fishermen (and women): Permits are not required to fish from the Seaford Town Dock.
Seaford Town Dock — Seaford
There are no permits or parking restrictions needed here. But there are also no railings! It's a smaller peninsula-shaped dock with rocks as the floor and a planked boardwalk. Bring your own everything. There are trash receptacles and fishing line recycling bins. It's a great spot to drop a quick line in a quiet setting. The Cardoon Mediterranean Grill is directly next door, offering al fresco dining.
Town Dock and Walkway — Port Washington
Watch the boats sail in and out of Manhasset Bay while you attempt to hook a fish here. In the summer months, snappers (juvenile bluefish) abound. Combine fishing with a trip to the local farmers' market on summer weekends. It's also a great waterfront for strolling, sunset seeking, or just general people watching.
Wantagh Park — Wantagh
This 100-plus-acre park is home to one of our favorite seasonal swimming pools and mini water parks, It's also a great fishing pier. Found just beyond the marina, it's open year-round. There is some limited seating, tables along the pier, and lovely views. The waterfront path was recently repaved and is ideal for bike riding. Enjoy a round of mini-golf on your way out.
When you're done fishing, try pedaling around Belmont Lake State Park. Photo courtesy of the park
Family-Friendly Fishing Destinations in Suffolk County
Belmont Lake State Park — North Babylon
The 26-acre, spring-fed Belmont Lake provides springtime trout fishing and summer bass fishing. Waterfowl can be found roaming the grounds, and watch out above for osprey diving for a fresh catch of the day. Belmont Lake also offers pedal boat, rowboat and kayak rentals from the boat dock from May through early October. Afterward, picnic, or play on the climbing structures, fields, courts, and more.
From pier or boat, Captree State Park is a great option for fishermen of all ages. Photo by Jen Tomeo
Captree State Park — Babylon
Kids can stay on land to fish off the two large piers or even catch crabs at this gorgeous state park. It's also a good spot to catch one of the many boats for a day of saltwater fishing, sailing, or sightseeing. Head to the Overlook section for sweeping views of Fire Island and great picnicking. There are even paddle boards available.
Don't overlook the turtle pond at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery.
Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Aquarium — Cold Spring
Tour the aquariums, ponds, and other exhibits at this Cold Spring Harbor nonprofit before checking out its catch-and-keep fishing program. Cast your line from its fishing platform to snare a trout during select times in the summer. You'll pay per fish and must keep your fish (no tossing it back). But it gives kids a chance to learn how to thread a bait, throw, and reel a line—and to see if they have the stomach for gutting that fish later. See complete hours and fees online. Bring your own rod or rent there for a nominal fee. Don't miss the turtle pond either.
Harborfront Park — Port Jefferson
The 350-foot fishing pier on Port Jefferson's waterfront offers expansive North Shore views and plenty of fishing opportunities. You can also catch a fishing boat from here, including the Osprey fleet, which operates a kids fishing tour for ages 7 and older. Afterward, stroll the village for family-friendly eats, sights and activities.
Family-Friendly Fishing Destinations on the East End
Molnar's Landing Marina — Hampton Bays
This popular spot hosts a special kids' fishing boat trip and other family-friendly fishing experiences in a low-key setting. Fluke are the popular catch here, but also sea bass and striped bass, depending on the season.
Montauk Point State Park — Montauk
Fishing is available year-round off the beaches of gorgeous Montauk Point State Park, where you'll be treated to grand views of the south shore of Long Island, nature trails, and maybe even a seal sighting. Cast your line right from the beach, aka surf fishing, to try for a striped bass or other local favorites. You'll likely find porgy and cod, too. Apply for an after-hours parking permit to enjoy summertime fishing when the beaches clear of sunbathers. Don't miss the lighthouse while you're out here.
Orient Beach State Park — Orient
Visitors can swim in the bay, fish from shore, go kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking or biking, or walk a nature trail. The water-facing playground and picnic area are an ideal spot to made a day trip out of this easternmost point of Long Island's North Fork. Fees include $10 for parking, unless you have the Empire Pass. Bonus: Peep the Orient Point Lighthouse while you're there.
Railroad Dock — Greenport
At the end of Third Street, near Greenport's antique carousel and the ferry to Shelter Island, kids can drop a line for snappers, flounder, porgies, and more. There's even an abundance of squid to be caught on rod and reel in early- to mid-spring, ideal for fresh calamari or as bait for larger fish. The dock is the site of the village's annual snapper derby held on the Sunday of Greenport Maritime Festival weekend.
A version of this article was published in 2015.
Unless noted, photos by the author