No more fishing at the Race Street Pier

Hello, Readers!
Just recently, a new pier was opened in the city of Philadelphia: the Race Street Pier - a new promising fishing spot. Located right next to D&B at the Delaware River, this place was golden for fishing! Every thing's in the past now; however, since the owners of the pier decided to close the place down for fishing (reasons are further below...).
The Race Street Pier was one of my dreams come true: a public, safe, and clean location to fish, located right at the Delaware river in Center City (where almost all locations are private; therefore - fishing is forbidden). Located only a couple blocks away from the Market-Frankford line (Spring Garden Station), between Penn's Landing and Dave & Busters, and also right next to the "Riding the Duck" trips; the Race Street Pier is a convenient place for a walk, some exercise, reading, sunbathing, etc. The pier opened a little bit over a month ago (May 12th, 2011); therefore, it's new!

Since its opening, I went there 4-5 times for fishing. The fishing there was very productive, and the ambient was really nice: the White Perch that I caught there were way bigger than the ones at the Schuylkill river - the biggest one being 8 inches. Also, the bite was constant during high tide, keeping me busy and happy. During low tide, Catfish would still be active in the area. The biggest catfish I caught there was a 9.8lb Yellowish Channel Catfish, on a live White Perch. 
Also, on one of my first trips there, I caught a very interesting "jet-black" Channel Catfish right next to the pier. The fish was 3lb, and his eyes were surprisingly very small! It had huge whiskers, and its color was a shiny Jet-Black - just like petroleum. I really wished that I took a picture of it! My hypothesis for that fish is that it probably lived somewhere dark, perhaps under structure, or somewhere deep. It adapted to the darkness; therefore, its sense of smell was enhanced in exchange for its sense of vision. That would explain the small eyes and big whiskers. Interesting, huh? Adaptation is certainly a very interesting topic.
So, catching catfish over there was not a problem. They would occasionally come up on nightcrawlers, the regular shrimp, chicken liver; however, the best bait for that location was a live fish! The fishes were abundant everywhere: I caught catfish there on shallow water - 4 feet at the beginning of the pier (when the tide was low); and also on 13 feet water, at the end of the pier (when the tide was high). Note that the low to high tide at the Delaware is about 5 feet. The Race Street Pier was also a great spot for Striped Bass - I caught 2 Stripers over there around three weeks ago - a small 16 inches on a little Eastern Silvery Minnow, and a 22 inches (5.3lb) on a live White Perch, at the end of the pier.  Over all, as you can see, fishing over there was great.
The environment was also awesome: the guard-rail at the pier was not flat - it was 45 degrees shaped - perfect to support fishing rods (I believe it was made with the purpose of being fashionable, and also to decrease falls). The bottom of the water around the pier was composed entirely of mud; therefore, I rarely had any snags. It was seriously an awesome spot to fish on!
For the ones who don't know about this location, check their website here. As you may have seen in their website, the pier opens at 7 a.m., and closes 11 p.m., not to mention that there's security there even afterwards. In other words, there's security there 24/7, which is golden for any fisherman in the city of Philadelphia! Also, the security guards would often patrol around the pier, and ensure that everything was in order and legal (i.e. when it comes to biking, skateboarding, etc). As a matter of fact, they even checked fishing licenses to ensure that people were fishing there legally. On some days I even saw cops passing by the pier, every couple hours. Therefore, I definitely have no words for their sense of safety and preservation.

I'm writing this post for two main reasons: my secondary reason is to introduce you, the reader, to this wonderful new place located in Center City - Philadelphia. If you didn't visit the Race Street Pier yet, you have my wonderful suggestion to go there one day and take a good look at it. It's gorgeous. Small, but beautiful. The scenery is awesome. My main reason, however, which is a very unfortunate one, is to announce that fishing is longer permitted at this pier. As a matter of fact, I am posting here the reasons why fishing is no longer allowed there; reasons that I have heard from the local security guards of the pier. Also, I want to comment on it, and I would be pleased to hear your opinions about it (send me an e-mail!).

It all started a couple days ago, when I checked my Facebook and saw a message from one of my friends saying that he went to the pier and someone told him that fishing was no longer allowed. I got frustrated and somehow sad, thinking about what reasons they would actually have in order to prohibit fishing over there. Therefore, I went there yesterday (Friday), and I finally confirmed with the Security that a new sign of prohibitions is being made, and fishing will soon be banished from the pier.

So, according to the security members of the pier, fishing is going to be prohibited at the pier because: (1) some fishermen were destroying the property - digging the grass up and down, sticking sticks on the grass for rod support, moving bricks from location to location, etc; (2) littering - leaving trash on the floor (such as used line, broken swivels, bloody baits, plastic bags); and (3) because someone hooked a person last week at the pier (basically injured a person while casting the rod. Someone hooked a human being. tsk...).

To start with, I think angling is a wonderful sport. It can be easily turned into a wonderful family time with the right environment and circumstances, not to mention that it's a great way of entertainment for people that enjoy it. Even if a person fishes alone, it's still a great activity that promotes sharp skills, concentration, all while having fun. What I am trying to say is: angling should be promoted always in a positive way, and an angler should do his/her best for his/her reputation to not be bad. "Our" reputation at the pier is clearly the opposite: the "owners" of the pier do not want fishermen there, and the reasons above are more than enough to convince me that they have the right to do so. That's why my frustration went away as soon as I heard their complaints, and it turned immediately into sadness.

When it comes to destroying the property, I absolutely have no words for it. I can't even argue with it. I would hate if someone came to my house (my yard) and started destroying my property. Followingly, I cannot stand the act of littering. If makes me extremely sad to know that one of the reasons they are going to prohibit fishing over there is littering. I bad does it makes us anglers look? Think for a bit. There are at least four trashcans in that pier; two for recycling materials and two for regular trash; two at the entrance, two at the end. Does it take a lot to just walk a little bit, and throw all the garbage in the trashcan?
It's amazing how every time I go somewhere fishing, I can always find a piece of used line on the ground, etc. As I stated many times before, people have to be conscious of their surroundings, have a little bit more of respect for the environment, and not litter. So many times, I saw people throwing trash in the same river they fish - trash that could hurt the fish they fish (by being swallowed, by acid shock - increasing the level of acidity of the river, radiation, heavy metal poisoning, etc), the environment (more aquatic pollution = less aquatic life), and people that consume that fish (heavy metals, PCBs - "PolyChlorinated Biphenyl").

Finally, one of the most dangerous things in fishing is in the fact that every angler is using a sharp tool to catch the fish: the hook. I can't count how many times I've hooked myself because of my own stupidity; or laziness in handling the hook the way if should be handled; or just lack of attention. However, in 14 years of fishing (since I was 8), I have never hooked someone else. Hooking myself is not a big deal, even though I suffer from the pain; but I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for hooking someone else because of my lack of attention or stupidity. It's a lack of responsibility, and also shameful for anglers to not pay attention to their surroundings before casting! The officer did not tell me the details, or how bad the person was injured. However, just the fact that the angler hooked someone while casting (basically swinging) his rod shows that anglers at that pier are basically a threat for people passing around. It makes us look like we are the bad guys. It makes us "dangerous."

In my opinion, closing the pier for fishing is not going to solve anything. It will only save the pier from the problems cited above. However, does this mean that people will change? Of course not. People that litter will still be littering, and so on. The litter and all the other problems will just move from that pier to somewhere else. Therefore, what is the proper solution? Like it or not, the solution goes to the basic of the basics - so basic that turns into a clichê: "Consciousness". People just have to be conscious of the environment, their surroundings, etc. It must be taught. It must be educational, and it must be spread from people to people.

Of course not every fisherman is a "threat for the human race with their deadly hooks," or "barbarians that will destroy your property and terrorize you!" However, it's a matter of fact that usually the whole pays for a small sum of its whole, specially when it comes to reputation and human judgement. Sometimes it takes a person to see two fisherman littering to believe that all fishermen litter. Isn't it the same when it comes to race stereotypes? Think about it. Sometimes the person understands that not everyone is like that. However, despite what is right and what is wrong, it seems that some people related to this pier will not cease to view us as villains.
Below are some pictures of the pier:


Due to the "Riding the Duck" trips on the left, the right side of the pier and the front were the only spots available for fishing. The area on the sides were shallow, and perfect for bait fish to hang around (and where there's bait fish, there's at least a lunker!). The bottom was muddy - snagless.

The guard rails were inclined by 45 degrees. That's something that I found extremely neat! By shifting the angle on the top, and being taller than our center of mass, it prevents more falls in the water; therefore, less drownings. 

Certainly a wonderful place to go with friends, or just to spend with the family. The environment is great - clean and protected.

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.