As a dirt-poor, fishing-obsessed kid growing up in an urban area, I–like I’m sure many of you–took my fishing where I could find it. I’d sneak on golf course water hazards, fish fetid run-off canals and drainage ditches, nitrate-polluted housing development ponds, and forgotten, weed-choked, garbage-strewn little creeks. Anywhere, really, I thought I might be able to catch a fish, and I didn’t think twice about how dirty those waters were, because they were, quite literally, all I had.

Now, of course, it’s easy to take things like clean, unpolluted fishing waters for granted. If you have the means to, that is. If you don’t have the means, if you, because of your circumstances, have to take your fishing where and when you can find it, your reality might look like this.

From this story on
On a recent boat ride up the Anacostia River, the first warm day of spring had lured anglers to the riverbank. Cooped up over the winter, they seized the opportunity to return to their faithful friend–filled with catfish, perch and bass–to find some peace in nature and some dinner for the night. But this was no Norman Rockwell painting. These fishermen were casting their lines into the urban waters of Washington, D.C., into a river notorious as one of the dirtiest in the nation. What’s more, according to a recent study, they represented a small fraction of the 17,000 or more residents of this metropolitan area who are consuming fish from a river that has all the markings of a Superfund site

The rest of the story is well worth a full read, and a real eye-opener for those of us who blithely assumed the Clean Water Act of 1972 (you know, that meddlesome legislation many of our elected leaders would love to do away with) had taken care of all that sad, sordid nonsense. Do any of you have an Anacostia in your area? A heavily-polluted river, lake or pond that people continue to use because they have no choice? What is it?

Check out Joe Cermeles guide to finding great fishing spots in suburban areas here.