WATCH | There's a little known secret amongst New York City's fishing community: the best place to catch big fish is right off Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. We headed down to Battery Park to find out if it was actually true.
Leaving our office, we stopped by one of the only tackle shops in Manhattan, Capitol Fishing, located right off of Herald Square in midtown.
The staff outfitted us with rigs for the heavy currents in the New York Harbor and several frozen bunker, the most common bait species endemic to New York waters. Their recommended technique was to "chunk" the bait, cutting it into strips and casting as far into the murky water as possible. "Chunking" relies on fish finding the bite via smell, versus sight and sound when using lures.
Battery Park's location at the southern tip of Manhattan makes it an ideal fishing spot for local anglers. The confluence of the Hudson River, East River, and the Ocean creates a staging ground for fish like striped bass and blue fish.
As hours passed and the sun began to set, we noticed other lucky fishermen with their catches. Inquiring with them, we found most planned on taking their fish home to eat. The question is, how safe is it to eat fish from NY waters?
The Department of Health's website recognizes that there are pollutants such as mercury and lead in most fish that live and transit through local bodies of water in New York City. However, spokesman Jeffrey Hammond stated that "the most significant contaminants in Hudson River waters are PCBs."
PCBs, or Polychlorinated biphenyls, are a common industrial by-product found in polluted waterways. Although these chemicals in large quantities can be harmful, if state guidelines are followed, those who harvest fish can do so with less risk to their health.
The Department of Natural Resources advises, "many chemicals are found at higher levels in the fat of fish." They claim you can reduce the amount of contaminants you eat "by properly trimming, skinning and cooking your catch."
The majority of our time spent in Battery Park went bite-less. However, we found great company in the friendly locals and tourists around us, and a magnificent view of the Statue of Liberty towering over the harbor.
Finally, at 11:30pm, we got what we were waiting for. A 15 pound, 29 inch striped bass took our bait and fought for 10 minutes before we were able to bring it on shore. Not bad for a Wednesday night in New York City.