That’s a BIG FISH! Brooklyn Fishing Derby 2013 Winner Announced!

John Ruffino wearing a Kusillo Mask caught a 36" Striped Bass in Long Island City © BKUAA

While crossing over the East River during my daily ride on the East River Ferry, I would often see fishermen cast their lines into the dark polluted waters, hanging out on India Street Pier having a good time, in the rain or sunshine.  Some of them were members of Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association, whose fishing derby this year would end with an East River Fish Fry. Continue reading

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Catch and Fry Some East River Fish This Weekend at the BK Fishing Derby (11/8-11/10)

When you think about Brooklyn life, fishing may not be the first thing that comes to mind..for most people, that is. Ben Sargent, a.k.a. theBrooklyn Chowder Surfer, and fellow members of the Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association are proving that city fishing is pretty bad ass. You can find out yourself at the Brooklyn Fishing Derby, which starts tomorrow (11/8) and runs through the weekend, culminating in the ultimate fish fry cookout on Sunday.

If you’re still skeptical, just check out this video from the 2010 derby. You’ll see this rag tag band of fisherman (and women) climbing under fences, scaling the rocky shores of the East River, and proudly displaying their trophies.



Sargent in the kitchen

Ben Sargent is no stranger to the foodie/fishing world. He’s appeared on the food network with Bobby Flay, opened  Surf Bar, right here in Williamsburg, and is the host of Catch IT, Cook IT, & Eat IT on Bushwick’s Heritage Radio Network (run out of Roberta’s).  Veteran Greenpointers might also remember him as the guy who made (questionably legal, but super delicious) lobster rolls to-go out of his basement apartment, which he dubbed The Underground Lobster Pound (until he was shut down by the Board of Health). His alter ego, Doktor Klaw, could be found, as Jen Galatioto described, “delivering lobster rolls in his tricked out truck with a huge ass gold lobster claw hanging around his neck.”

This is actually the 5th year that Sargent has thrown the derby, which he founded after opening his first restaurant in the neighborhood in 2001. He explained that when it first began, he and his friends decided to throw a Brooklyn fishing competition as a joke, but it quickly became more serious, with hefty cash prizes and professional fisherman stepping up to the challenge. This year, though, the goal is more democratic–to bring the craft of fishing back to the community and encourage newbies to give it a whirl.

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Greenpointers Competes In Brooklyn Fishing Derby: First Catch 33 1/4 Inch Striped Bass! (not ours)

Team Greenpointers AKA Jon

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!

Ben Sargent and Robin Shulman

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.

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Become Brooklyn’s Biggest Hooker: Brooklyn Fishing Derby Begins Sunday 10/14

Brooklyn Fishing Derby begins tomorrow Sunday October 14 2012 with an opening party right here in Greenpoint at Dream Fishing Tackle (675 Manhattan Ave) from 12-6pm. Fishing takes place along the Brooklyn Side of the East River from the 69th St Pier to Long Island City and includes Red Hook, Dumbo, Williamsburg and Greenpoint. For more information and to sign-up visit Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association Website.

Do you think the biggest hooker will be from Greenpoint?


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Pastor Marries Choir Girl Who Swims In the Newtown Creek

Everyone gives me crap for not being a “real” Greenpointer, but my great grandfather G. Clement Edson was the pastor of the Noble Street Presbyterian Church (1907-1911) and my grandmother Isabelle was born on Noble St. Why does this matter?

Great Grandpa’s wedding to his new wife, Gertrude, a choir girl, after his first wife, who was my biological Grandmother died, caused major drama in Greenpoint. The old ladies of the church had another dame picked out for him, but old Clem knew who he wanted. A headline in the Brooklyn Eagle read, Pastor Marries Chorus Girl, which is very different from a choir girl. 20th Century Greenpoint gossip! While I need to do some digging in the Brooklyn Eagle archives, the story even made it into the NY Times.

And aside from personal validation, my great grandmother Gertrude used to swim in the Newtown Creek! Explains a lot, right? We can imagine it was a beautiful and natural place back then.

Annie Edson Taylor

This is not the first instance of a ballsy female ancestor taking risks with water. I’m also related to the infamous Annie Edson Taylor, who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Today, I would do that before taking a plunge into the Newtown Creek.

These days if you see someone swimming in the Newtown Creek, (after you lol,) call 911.

The New York State Department of Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry completed a public healthy assessment of the Newtown Creek. This is very important information considering the North Brooklyn Boat Club has been taking to the waters! (I just became a member, it’s $30.)

Today, May 4th is the deadline to comment by filling out this form.

Their key findings:

  • 1. DON’T EAT ANYTHING OUT OF THE NEWTOWN CREEK! “Eating fish and crabs taken from Newtown Creek could harm people’s health, due to the chemical contaminants. Women under 50 years old and children under 15 years old should not eat any fish or crabs from these waters. Others should follow the State Health Department advisories for eating fish and crabs taken from this and other waterways. There is currently a fish consumption advisory for Newtown Creek.”
  • 2. DON’T SWIM IN THE NEWTOWN CREEK! “Swimming, scuba diving and wind surfing (with full body immersion) could harm people’s health, due to biological contaminants and physical hazards (underwater debris, commercial boat traffic).”
  • 3. YOU CAN TOUCH IT, BUT WASH YOUR HANDS! “Canoeing, kayaking, boat touring and catch-and-release fishing are not expected to harm people’s health, if people use precautions (properly washing their hands) to avoid swallowing biological contaminants from surface water.
This is an important step for public safety information. Is there any hope for the Newtown Creek? Can it ever be cleaned up back to the time when Great Grandma Gertrude swam there? 


Vice’s Toxic: Brooklyn Series 2007
PBS Map of Newtown Creek
PBS Video Series: The City Concealed: Newtown Creek

Brooklyn Genealogy: City of Churches
Brooklyn Genealogy: The Eastern District of Brooklyn; The N Streets
Brooklyn Online: Historic Greenpoint

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