Catch the big one at this year’s fishing derby

Catch the big one at this year’s fishing derby
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

It’s has been widely said that if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. But if you teach a man to fish in the East River, he could win the Brooklyn Fishing Derby.

The so-called “common man’s fishing competition” returns at the stroke of midnight on Oct. 1 and, for the next six weeks, encourages amateur anglers to catch the big one and bemoan the ones that got away.

Derby founder Ben Sargent has been fishing off nooks and crannies on Greenpoint’s dilapidated piers for several years, but created the three fortnight contest to share the hobby with other fishermen — and convince doubters that you can eat the fruit of the East River.

“Most people are total doubters about the Hudson and the East River saying there aren’t any fish or that the fish will kill you,” said Sargent. “That’s the same fish you catch in Montauk and spend $15 a pound for sustainable line-caught cod at a farmer’s market.”

Catching your own saves you money — and it’s good exercise, too.

“Striped bass and bluefish put up such a fight,” said Sargent. “I love to catch bluefish. The fight is unreal.”

Sargent also advises would-be winners to head to the river at night, dusk, or early morning. Fish don’t bite during the day.

The party begins the evening of Sept. 30, when Dream Fishing Tackle on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint hosts an opening soiree for anglers to stock up on gear before the derby begins in earnest at midnight.

Brooklyn Fishing Derby, Oct. 1 to Nov. 21 at various locations on the East River. For information, visit www.brooklynchowdersurfer.com. Registration costs about $100, though at press time, it’s unclear if that includes a $10 New York State fishing license.