I was talking to these dudes Len and Jason over email yesterday. They’ve organized the Philadelphia Striped Bass fishing derby, much like ours, only theirs includes two rivers: the Schuylkill River, which runs through the heart of the city, and the Delaware River, which separates Philly from New Jersey. It looks like a good time and it’s really surprising to me to hear there are stripers running through the Schuylkill. I remember thinking that river was such a dump when I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Chinatown, driving on 76 to Vine Street, the Schuylkill only made me think of kids who drowned there in the summer time because they couldn’t swim, or they tried to float a homemade boat or something else pretty dumb. But now that I think of it, it’s also where Boat House Row is and the city holds these big rowing races there every year, and, much like the often-maligned-but-much-cleaner East River we have here in New York City, the Schuylkill appears to be cleaner now than it’s been in decades. The city is also investing money for public use on the waterfront (at least on the Center City side from what I’ve seen) so in that sense it’s a lot like what is going on up here too.
I’ve never fished Schuylkill, but something about hanging out by the Philadelphia Art Museum or under the South Street bridge fishing for bass seems kind of awesome. It always seemed so gritty to hang out by that river and everything around it is so man-made, like there’s no natural shoreline that isn’t concrete and steel as it winds through the city. A little further up river it’s different, past Vine and up to Fairmount Park.
I’ve never fished the Delaware River either. It’s much bigger than the Schuylkill, with much more developed (private) waterfront property. I’m not sure where you can fish that river on the Philly side to be honest, but there must be some spots to break into. I did hang out with my friend Christie by the Maritime Museum or whatever it’s called down there last weekend, just across the… Walnut Street bridge? Anyhow, that’s the Delaware. It’s big, and not as much fun to say as the Schuylkill (one of my favorite winter-time phrases comes from some radio traffic report when we were kids: “Slippin’ and slidin’ on the Schuylkill Expressway!”).
Len and Jason’s derby seems a lot like ours. They’ve got some old salts supporting the cause and a lot of new people who are stoked to see what they can catch in these waterways. It’s awesome to see more people taking an interest in things like this, especially when we live in these cities and these rivers and what lives in them is so often taken for granted. Seeing how I’ve been running down to the Philadelphia area a bunch these past couple weeks and more in the forthcoming weeks, this sounds pretty cool. I may have to bring a rod down this weekend. Support the scene!
p.s. I got out to Jamaica Bay tonight. I was floating solo in the bay waist deep among the grass during the incoming tide on a black-ass night. It was a strange feeling to be out there alone in the water like that. I got one hit on one of Kevin Glendhill’s lures but that was it. I heard some fish jumping but couldn’t entice them. It was great to be back out there on the water and even though it was pretty much casting practice, I learned a lot about adjusting my new setup for situations like this (i.e. in the water, in the dark, fumbling for lures etc.). I’m hoping to get back out there Saturday morning before I head to Delaware.