A Growing Number of City Dwellers Are Embracing Fishing

It's an unlikely way to experience nature

Prospect Park Lake
Would you go fishing in Prospect Park Lake?
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

When you think of fishing in a major city, your expectations might involve having to leave that city to reel in a fish of any relevant size. Years ago, I traveled to the Brooklyn waterfront, boarded a boat and ventured out into New York Harbor with friends to see what we could catch; it’s worth mentioning here that we did this reasonably far from dry land. But evidently, a growing number of residents of New York — and other big cities — are seeking out rods and reels and tapping into their inner Norman MacLean.

That’s one of the big takeaways from a recent article in The New Yorker that found Eric Lach interviewing Esther Wang, who writes a regular column for Hell Gate about fishing in New York City. (The column’s title? OnlyFins.) Among the topics of conversation — the ways in which fishing can alleviate stress (always a plus) and the search for the best place to catch striped bass.

If you’re an urban dweller who’s been considering fishing with an eye towards consuming what you’ve caught, there are plenty of resources online to make sure your dining plans are safe. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago all maintain and regularly update lists of what is and is not safe to eat — including cases where a type of fish caught in one body of water is unsafe as opposed to one caught elsewhere.

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Last year, Wang wrote about a fishing tournament held in Prospect Park for the fourth year. Last year’s edition of the Battle of the Banks drew 44 competitors — though only 20 of them managed to catch a fish that met the length qualification. Still, it’s a growing community — and one that seems to offer plenty to its participants.

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