Greenpointers Competes In Brooklyn Fishing Derby: First Catch 33 1/4 Inch Striped Bass! (not ours)
Greenpointers is competing in the Brooklyn Fishing Derby! Well, it’s team Jon & Jen! And in reality Jon is doing all the dirty work, like hooking nasty fish tails for bait and everything else that involves contact with the East River. My job is to keep it classy with sparkling wine and cheese plates and to be there for the photo op when we catch the biggest East River monster!
Stay tuned as we document our fish wrangling for the next month. It’s sure to be an exciting and stinky urban angling adventure!
What is the Brooklyn Fishing Derby? We weren’t too sure how it worked so we checked out the opening party at Dream Fishing and Tackle (673 Manhattan Ave) in Greenpoint. Ben Sargent, of Underground Lobster Pound fame was grilling burgers out front while contestants picked up their awesome t-shirts and fishing gear!
(Honestly, the $25 entry fee is worth the rad t-shirt even if you don’t drop a line in the water.)
“It’s a pretty good cross section of Greenpoint,” Ben explained. There were born and raised Greenpointers, tattooed hipster Greenpointers, Polish-American guy Greenpointers, young Latino Greenpointers and some badass fisherwomen Greenpointers. And everyone was there to fish the East River!
For $80 we got the “FULL BIG HOOKER” package, which included a sweet fishing pole, measuring tape and the instructions for submission, which involved taking a photo of the catch and sending it via text or email within one hour.
From now until November 17th, 2012, we will be fishing along the Brooklyn side of East River from the 69th St Pier in Bayridge all the way up to Long Island City.
While stocking up on clam bait and beer, author of Eat The City Robin Shulman gave a really interesting talk that described the waterways of NYC before it became the dumping ground for industrial waste. Water front farms and foot long oysters made me think of how awesome it would have been to live in the city in the 1600s when you could swim in clean water and literally pull fish out of the river. In the late 1800s Harpers began reporting about the stench of the waterways (can you relate?) and how infants choked to death from the polluted air.
Old School Greenointer Emil Appenzeller had a lot to say about the neighborhood. Raised on Apollo St, his mother having died of pancreatic cancer, he has experienced the atrocities of environmental neglect and abuse in Greenpoint, which until recently has been ignored. On the flip side he thinks that the new people moving into Greenpoint are great for the area.
“The young people are aggressive and cocky and they come out and stand for what’s right,” Emil said pointing to Robin.
Robin ended with a warning to NOT eat the fish caught during the derby, stressing that women of childbearing age specifically should avoid seafood from local waterways because of possible birth defects resulting from toxins in the fish. She said she is surprised at how many people eat the fish despite these risks and that the government does not do enough to warn fisherman of the hazards.
Right after the talk Altay Murat and Robin Lipner, derby contestants from Manhattan, told Greenpointers they eat weekly catches and don’t worry about it. In fact that night they would enjoy a black fish they caught in Jamaica Bay.
Laughing Robin said, “What do they say? Ignorance is bliss.”
What is it called when you know the risks?
Brooklyn Fishing Derby is catch and release, although I will admit I thought about maybe just one taste if we did catch something yummy. My curiosities have been quelled.
After the party we all met at the India St pier to start fishing. The spirit on the pier as we waited for the first catch of the derby was exciting. Each pole had a little bell on it and every time we heard it ringing we would run over to see what was caught.
Two young men with 20 foot long fishing poles pulled in the first crab. Then, a Polish-American man, who wasn’t competing pulled in a 33 1/4 in. Striped Bass. The fish was enormous and it took some maneuvering to pull that monster up on the dock. It was just like when men work on cars. One person is doing the work while everyone just stands around commenting.
One of the derby organizers offered for him to join the competition before he pulled the fish up, but he didn’t bite, so to speak. But after he saw how massive the fish was he changed his mind. Too late! This is the same guy who wouldn’t let me get near him to take a photo but after his catch he was the biggest ham for all the cameras! So I chopped off his head.
It was a gorgeous night to be out fishing on the pier and the sentiment among these urban anglers was more communal than competitive. Sure everyone wanted to catch a big fish, but they also wanted to hang and share fishing stories and if you are green, like Jon and I, they were more than happy to give advice and lend a hand.
There is still time to get in on this fishing competition so register here! That t-shirt alone is worth it! And ladies, this is the perfect place to meet all those handsome manly men you have been searching the city for far as wide! They aren’t at your knitting workshop – come get ‘em here. Picking up on the pier is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Stay tuned for our next post, when we hopefully have a catch to share with you.