He arrives at one of his preferred spots, a concrete nook unlikely to be featured in a Field&Stream pictorial anytime soon. Trucks from a beverage distributor idle nearby, a chain-link fence topped with razor wire rises above and rusting metal beams and concrete slabs jut from the dark water. “This is some of the best fishing I’ve ever experienced,” says Sargent.
Read more of this terrific article about Urban fishing, specifically in NYC's East River, in today's New York Post. The "Sargent" they're talking about is Ben Sargent, a Boston native whose grandfather managed that state's fisheries. Ben is the founder of the Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association and the Brooklyn Fishing Derby, whose second annual competition began Oct. 1 and ends at midnight on Saturday, Nov 20th. Ben also has his own online radio program, "Catch It, Cook It, and Eat It."
They were also eating them, and feeding them to their families, which surprised him “until I realized the river was a serious migratory path. The same fish you pay $13 a pound for in Montauk, that’s line-caught, blah blah blah, has also been in the East River.”
One might expect tension on the piers between old-timers and newcomers, but Sargent says problems have been few.
Jane Borock, an art director who’s been fishing daily thanks to a recent layoff, waxes rhapsodic not only about the joys of her new hobby, but about the community she’s found on the pier at N. 5th Street in Williamsburg.
“There’s such a cast of characters here, from the hipsters with their $30 lures to the guys who tie spark plugs on their line because they can’t afford a weight,” she says. “Everyone supports each other.”
The prevailing view of the river as a flowing cesspool is way off base, says Jonathan Colby, a hydrodynamic engineer whose employer, Verdant Power, recently did the first extensive survey of resident fish populations as part of an environmental impact study.
“It’s a beautiful, healthy ecosystem,” says Colby, who, like Waldman, credits the Clean Water Act of the 1970s for kick-starting improvements in water quality. “The abundance of fish is an indicator of that.”