By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller
Jordan Haerter grew up like many Sag Harbor children, fishing off the village’s Long Wharf. In particular, remembered his father, Christian, Jordan enjoyed the ease of fishing for snappers in the early fall.
“He liked there was more fishing than down time with the snappers,” said Christian.
It was with this in mind that in 2009 — when Richard Flood and Douglas Herrmann founded the Jordan Haerter Fishing Tournament — that Christian trekked out to Shelter Island and cut fresh bamboo stalks to make homemade snapper polls for the children who would attend the event meant to honor his son. Jordan Haerter perished at the age of 19 in 2008 in an act of valor while defending a check point while serving as a Marine Lance Corporal in Ramadi, Iraq.
“I made up 45 snapper poles the first year,” he remembered. “I wanted them to be able to fish off Long Wharf and I thought a lot of kids might not have a pole to work with or might just be here for the weekend and I didn’t want them left out.”
In this, its third year, the Jordan Haerter Fishing Tournament — held in 2009, 2010 and after skipping a year, 2012 — will feature a children’s snapper derby when it comes back to Long Wharf in Sag Harbor on Saturday, September 22.
The tournament, which starts at 4 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m. for competing anglers, offers cash prizes for the largest striped bass and bluefish catch and allows fisherman to fish anywhere between Shinnecock and Montauk in their quest for victory.
Among the winners will also be the organizations which benefit from the proceeds of the tourney, which costs $60 for adult fishermen and women, $50 for military veterans, $10 for children 10 to 15 years old and free for children under 10. This year, Building Homes for Heroes, a national not-for-profit that aids severely wounded or disabled veterans and their families by building or modifying homes, will be a beneficiary for the third time. Patient Airlift Service, an organization of pilots providing free transportation for military personnel, their families and other humanitarian missions, will also receive funding from the tournament.
According to Haerter, in 2010, the tournament was successful enough to earn $18,000 for Building Homes for Heroes.
Food, music, silent auctions, raffles and fishing clinics for children will be offered at what Haerter said has always been billed as a family friendly day on Long Wharf. Haerter has even enlisted the help of the Sag Harbor Boy Scouts, who will give fishing tips and advice to all children who need it on the wharf.
“It is a lot of fun and what is great is a lot of local businesses, including our band the Who Dat Loungers, have donated their service and their time to make this a success,” said Haerter.
“This is our way of trying to make something good out of something pretty terrible,” added Haerter, referring to the number of projects his not-for-profit, Jordan’s Initiative, takes on in an effort to aid military personnel, veterans and their families. “This is my way of keeping Jordan’s light alive.”
The Jordan Haerter Fishing Tournament will be held this Saturday, September 22 from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited to Long Wharf to join in the festivities. For more information, visit jordansfishingtournament.