They are not rod-bending behemoths, they are not chrome-plated speedsters. That is, they are not glamour fish like stripers and albies. Snapper blues? They're... well, they're just fun to catch. And they're good eating too.
Think of all the things that make fall a special time of year - you have tomatoes, cucumbers, low humidity, empty beaches - and you have snapper blues. So nice.
Snapper blues are juvenile bluefish. It is a measure of how fast these ravenous creatures grow, that snappers -which may be 6 - 10 inches long - are the spawn of this season, born in the spring, probably offshore. Schools of snappers now prowl harbors and estuaries, feeding voraciously in anticipation of the fall migration.
Snappers are easily targeted from docks and bridges. They're not difficult to catch, and they do put on a show when you hook them. For all these reasons, these little fish can be great fun to go for with children.
No heavy tackle is required. Any local tackle shop will sell you a snapper rig, with a float, which is easy to cast. The current state limit is 10 per day per angler - find your snappers, and you should be able to make that quickly.
Preparing them to eat is best approached by keeping things simple. No fileting is required. Cut at angle down from the back of the head, then pull the head down and away, removing the head and the guts. Scale them. Now let your imagination play. Kevin Blinkoff, of On The Water magazine, recommends grilling them with a little olive oil, charring the outside while being careful not to overcook the flesh. Eat them right off the bone.
Or, you can bread them and pan fry them - again, eating the meat off the spine.
No matter how they are prepared, snapper blues will surprise you, in that they don't have any of the heavier taste and texture that does put some people off adult bluefish. Snappers are delicate and very tasty. Consider serving them with other fall staples - fresh tomatoes, cucumber tsatziki...
In case you should be concerned that there is some mystery or special finesse required, here is a youtube video of a kid angler catching snapper blues, making it look fun and easy (which it is).
My conversation with Kevin Blinkoff, which includes this week's fishing round-up, is posted in the audio above - give it a listen.