Fishing next to the Cross Bay Bridge
This article is part of a 30-day series exploring adventurous living near Rockaway Beach, Queens.
28th Day in Rockaway: Fishing next to the Cross Bay Bridge
While biking, hiking, and SUPing around Rocapulco I quickly noticed the consistent presence of fishermen. I saw them on the bridges, on the bay, in the inlets, and even on the ocean.
In a place where setting up slacklines or running in parks before sunrise is illegal, I figured fishing was probably another outdoor recreation no-no. Turns out fishing in New York City is perfectly legal though regulated. For marine fishing you only need to register online and for freshwater fishing you can purchase an annual license for $25.
As the full moon approached, a few friends and I decided it was a great time for fishing by moonlight. We went to the bay side of Rockaway Park as the sun set, setting up next to the Cross Bay Bridge, tying on clam bait and casting into the dark waters in between us and the rest of New York City.
We spent a few hours out on the side of the bay, casting and re-casting, waiting for a bite. As it got darker the lights from the Cross Bay Bridge cast oddly beautiful colors on the water. There were about five other solo fishermen out on the promenade. As we were heading out to leave we saw the fisherman next to us pulling on his rod as it heaved under the weight of a caught fish. Everyone else rushed over to watch the man reel the fish in as a striped bass hung from the end of his line.
The jubilation of the night began to be overshadowed by two factions: the onlookers saying to throw it back and those urging him to keep it. While large, the fish was only about 15 inches, legally too small to be kept. Based on the health of the local ecosystem the DEC regulates fishing to ensure that populations are able to continue to grow. The fisherman was excited to have caught the fish and wanted to keep it, the group I was with disagreed for environmental (and legal) reasons. Ultimately, he kept the fish and we walked away talking about the decimation of fishing populations on the East Coast. The fun of the outdoors tapered by the reality of the current condition of our oceans.
Fishing (Legally) in Rockaway
ACCESS: Full guide to Rockaway Fishing from the DEC here includes details on official city, state, and federal locations including: