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Queens kids gone fishin’ at annual Bayside Marina event

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The Bayside Anglers reeled in as many as 100 children from across the borough to take part in the group’s 10th-annual snapper derby last weekend along the Bayside Marina.

Children ages 3 to 13 stood with their fishing poles hoping for a bite Saturday at the marina, which is off the Cross Island Parkway, during the free event.

The Anglers handed out first, second and third prizes to the children who caught the largest number of fish, but other prizes were also given to attendees throughout the day.

“We want to give back to the community,” said Phil Romano, the corresponding secretary for the Anglers and one of its founding members. “Our goal is to teach people about the fantastic resource we have here. The water is cleaner than it has been any time in the last 100 years. All the industry that used to dump here is gone. It’s monitored and regulated. People think because it’s in the city it must be a cesspool. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The derby was a catch-and-release fishing event that required the young aficionados to return the snappers they caught to the water.

The Anglers, who also perform a massive cleanup near the marina each April, said last weekend’s derby could be held due to donations by the Angler Fleet of Port Washington, the Fisherman Depot of College Point, the marina and Pepsi.

Peter Pabon, president of the Anglers, said the event has become so popular that the group no longer spreads the word about it in the weeks leading up to the derby.

“It’s gotten to the point where we don’t advertise in advance because we have limited space and a limited number of rods,” he said. “We usually draw about 100 kids.”

Gil Sahagun, 8, of Queens Village, said he was participating this year in the derby for the second time.

“I’ve been fishing for a long time,” he said. “It’s fun and you can get prizes.”

Claudia Ciancanelli, 8, of Whitestone, was taking part in the event for the fifth year in a row with her father, Steven Ciancanelli.

“I like it when I catch fish that are big enough to bring home, so we can fry them,” Claudia Ciancanelli said.

Her father said his daughter has become a talented fisher and that she caught seven snappers during the derby last year.

“I couldn’t hook fast enough for her,” he said.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and his opponent in this year’s election, former City Councilman Tony Avella, as well as state Assembly candidate Vince Tabone were on hand during the derby to help hook fishing rods.

Pabon said the event drew youths from Bayside, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Flushing, Little Neck, Fresh Meadows, Elmhurst and Long Island.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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