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Shore fishing in the Big Apple; traveling the city with rod and reel.

Surrounded by water with nearly 500 miles of shoreline, the five boroughs of New York City offer endless opportunities to enjoy the resources of the state's marine district. Just knowing a few fishing spots in New York City opens up a world of adventure as diverse in access as it is in culture. From piers to beaches; from quiet, tucked away places to fishing spots beside the Westside Highway, every angler is sure to find enjoyment here.

Each borough is unique and offers a number of great fishing spots. The northernmost borough, the Bronx, has approximately half of its shoreline on Long Island Sound. Here lies Pelham Bay Park, a city park with an abundance of shoreline and numerous places to cast a line. South of the Bronx, the borough of Queens also has some secrets to share, with historic Gantry Plaza State Park providing excellent pier fishing on the East River. Standing across the river is Manhattan and at the southernmost tip the famous Battery Park. The home of excellent Hudson River fishing, Battery Park is a wonderful spot where anglers use the island's marine resources with skill. Lastly, both Staten Island and Brooklyn have excellent fishing within their sections of Gateway National Recreational Area. On Staten Island, many anglers enjoy the Great Kills section of Gateway, while in Brooklyn, Canarsie Pier gets the most use.

Each of the boroughs has its own anglers' stories to tell--of piers, bulkheads and beaches. In turn, we'll visit five areas known for their shore fishing opportunities. Discovering a bit about these areas can be a great adventure in itself.

Pelham Bay Park

New York's largest city park, Pelham Bay's 2,764 acres offer abundant areas for shore fishing. Located on the eastern side of the Bronx and bordering New Rochelle, anglers are welcomed here by the waters of the Long Island Sound. A great spot for fly fishing, Turtle Cove offers a secluded fishing spot with a marshy field ringed by abundant trees. For those anglers who prefer beaches, the bridge to City Island makes for a wonderful spot to cast a line. Here, blackfish, sea robins, stripers and blues are caught in abundance. The rocky beach is great for enjoying the warm days of summer; however, there are no amenities nearby and parking is very limited. If the fish aren't biting there, anglers may want to cross the bridge and fish from a party boat.

In addition to fishing, Pelham Bay offers numerous other outdoor activities. Orchard Beach has swimming, roller skating, a playground, restaurants and food stands. The park also has handball, squash and tennis courts, as well as a driving range. With the abundance of activities and a variety of places to eat, this park is definitely a destination unto itself.

Gantry Plaza State Park

Resting on the banks of the East River, Gantry Plaza State Park is where many Queens anglers try their luck. Its 2.5 acres and four piers offer a fish-cleaning station, lunch tables and even sunbathing benches. Beautifully maintained gardens add foreground to the wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline--a perfect combination for NYC fishing. The garden area welcomes you as you approach the gantries (structures used for loading and unloading barges), then a mist fountain and some amazing architecture capture your attention. The setting is completed by the reflections of the Empire State Building and the United Nations headquarters on the water's surface.

A pet-flee park, historic Gantry Plaza State Park is a beautiful place to fish, with each pier adding to the completeness of the historical and architectural beauty. The cafe pier, sunbathing pier and fishing pier are well lit for evening enjoyment. In summer, the plaza area is home to concerts and exhibitions, and the park has a spectacular view of Macy's Independence Day fireworks. Basketball courts, playgrounds and handball courts also provide added recreation.

Historic Battery Park and Battery Park City

A famed part of Manhattan, the Battery Park area has a riverside promenade that extends through historic Battery Park as well as Battery Park City. Although fishing from the promenade varies within each park, the view is always spectacular. From historic Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan, the view of the Statue of Liberty is inspiring, making concentrating on your fishing difficult at times. The Circle Line Ferry, running to and from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, is also hard to resist. Fishing is available in this section of the park from any of the four docks that are not in use (nor adjacent to those in use) by the ferry. Since the railing is a few feet from the water here, a net or gaff is useful to anglers. Playgrounds, food stands and restaurants line the promenade at this southern point.

Immediately to the north, you'll find Robert Wagner Park. The bulkhead in this dog-free zone is easier to fish from due to its proximity to the water. Anglers can take a break from fishing and tour the Museum of Jewish Heritage or take part in any number of activities that might be offered on the day they visit, such as chess, bird watching, in-line skating, or even a Master Angler Program. Relaxing on the lawn can also be enjoyable, as the lawns of Battery Park are beautifully maintained.

North of Wagner Park is Esplanade, a concentrated traffic area of Battery Park City. Because of this congestion, casting is prohibited off the main promenade; instead, an angler must simply flip the bait out. Fortunately, there is an abundance of fish in the area. In addition, numerous coves provide anglers with prime spots that have lots of fish-attracting structure and low human traffic. Wagner Cove is a perfect example. With a fine wooden walkway and many benches, it's a great spot to fish.

Ending the journey through Battery Park City is Rockefeller Park. The shore is quite rocky here, providing structure and habitat for marine life, and therefore great fishing for anglers. Pool tables, hockey tables and handball courts offer the angler an assortment of additional entertainment. Fields of finely cut grass provide the perfect place to picnic while enjoying the sunset.

Canarsie Pier

For generations, Canarsie Pier has been considered by many to have the best fishing in the city. It is located within Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn, and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. With cutting blocks for bait and an abundance of fish, anglers of all ages can be found here. Sea robins, bluefish, fluke and stripers are some of the fish that are often landed on this pier. Beautifully decorated and lined with trees and benches, Canarsie Pier is a remarkable place to enjoy Brooklyn's bay area. Listen carefully to get a sense of Brooklyn history and culture; tales of fishing and of life are handed down from one generation to the next. Dispersed throughout the pier, chess and backgammon tables are put to good use by many. The Sunset Landing Restaurant is open year round and serves a variety of delicious foods. Other amenities include snack bars, pay phones, lighting and restrooms.

Great Kills Park

Located in the middle of Staten Island's south shore, Great Kills Park encompasses Great Kills Harbor and offers angling in both the sheltered waters of the harbor and from the open ocean front. One of the prime locations in the park is Crookes Point. Here, anglers can land fish without getting wet; the boat channel is near shore and offers the deep water preferred by many fish species. Parking at the point requires a special permit that may be obtained from the National Park Service. Another access to the harbor can be found at the boat launch overflow parking driveway. Anglers can also park at the main beach lots and fish the Atlantic side, provided they avoid the swimming areas. Besides excellent fishing, visitors to the park enjoy miles of nature trails, beaches attended by life guards, a model airplane field, playgrounds and a boat launch and marina.

From historic sites that have hosted anglers through the centuries, to newly restored parks, each of the five boroughs has its own way of welcoming anglers. Whichever park you choose, and no matter the method--from surf casting, pier fishing, fly fishing to bait casting, a fine angling experience awaits. Although we've only discussed a fraction of the available marine fishing sites in New York City, it's clear that traveling the city with rod and reel in hand can be a great adventure.

Cristina Sandolo works as a Fisheries Educator for the Student Conservation Association's Hudson Valley AmeriCorps program.
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Author:Sandolo, Cristina
Publication:New York State Conservationist
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Aug 1, 2002
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