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March 21, 2012 / Brooklyn news / Meadows of Shame

Anglers pulling illegal fishing scheme in Prospect Park

The Brooklyn Paper

Lawless anglers are up to something fishy again in Prospect Park: stashing illegal tools to facilitate an elaborate fish-smuggling operation, wildlife lovers claim.

Someone stowed a cooler containing illegal barbed hooks — devices that have killed and wounded dozens of swans, geese and ducks, not to mention fish — on the northwest side of the park’s lake, near Lakeside Center.

Park watchdogs discovered three of the banned hooks stuffed in a bucket then zipped inside a black cooler with a strap, believed to be used to covertly transport fish from the catch-and-release-only pond out of the park.

“It’s a contrived operation — they don’t want to risk getting caught,” said goose-saving park watchdog Ed Bahlman.

The cooler discovery comes after Bahlman and his park-patrolling partner Anne-Katrin Titze rescued, reported, and rehabilitated dozens of lake-dwelling creatures after encounters with fishermen and fishing equipment, including avian celebrity “Beaky,” who was disfigured in a tragic run-in with a hook.

Barbed hooks have a sharp, backwards-jetting metal point designed to impale a fish at the mouth, making catch-and-release difficult.

The hooks are forbidden by state law in city parks.

After several reports of wounded waterfowl, the Prospect Park Alliance responded by installing about 30 green signs detailing fishing rules in the park last summer.

But in the months since, some fishermen have knocked down fencing to find more secluded angling areas.

On a recent visit to the lake, The Brooklyn Paper spotted a fisherman with a bucket in hand, trampling a gate to find an off-trail, isolated catching nook.

The black cooler discovered by park watchdogs has been spotted at multiple lakeside locations, leading Bahlman to believe several fishermen are running a “Jackie Brown”-style cooler pass-off so the culprits look less conspicuous when they haul fishing poles and dead fish from the park.

“We need more enforcement,” he said. “This shouldn’t be happening.”

Park spokesman Paul Nelson said the Prospect Park Alliance is working with fishing groups to educate anglers about rules, but said he was not aware of any specific plans to increase enforcement as fishing season hits.

“I can tell you we take illegal fishing very seriously,” he said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Kim from Windsor Terrace says:
The park this year is already being taken over by people who don't care if they harm the environment by using barbed hooks. And then they call themselves sportsmen.
March 21, 2012, 7:32 am
Steve from Windsor Terrace says:
If there are no plans to increase enforcement of fishing rules, then the Prospect Park Alliance DOES NOT "take illegal fishing very seriously."

How will the Alliance educate anglers? How will the rules be enforced?

Let's see some real plans and actions by the Alliance and the Parks Department.
March 21, 2012, 8:55 am
Joan from Park Slope says:
It doesn't take much effort to see the rampant disregard for fishing regulations at Prospect Park Lake and the ineffectiveness of the Alliance who run the park in protecting the park from the abuses.
March 21, 2012, 9:35 am
o3 from wburg says:
barbed hooks = fishing for supper = poor folks getting by.
March 21, 2012, 9:56 am
o3 from wburg says:
barbed hooks = fishing for supper = poor folks getting by.
March 21, 2012, 9:56 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
The Parks Dept in Brooklyn is a joke. They just pay us lip service and provide the absolute minimum of care they can possibly give our parks.

These services should be outsourced to private firms that would do a better job at less cost.
March 21, 2012, 11:13 am
Chris from Windsor Terrace says:
No one from Prospect Park is walking the park or even showing they care. This kind of neglect has been going on with no change in response from the Alliance.
Empty words, empty gestures, is what we get, turning Prospect Park into a slum.
March 21, 2012, 12:05 pm
Lee from Park Slope says:
It sounds like the Prospect Park Alliance is going to form a poaching task force so they can avoid doing what any responsible guardian of a park would do immediately.
March 21, 2012, 4:36 pm
Lee from Park Slope says:
It sounds like the Prospect Park Alliance is going to form a poaching task force so they can avoid doing what any responsible guardian of a park would do immediately.
March 21, 2012, 4:36 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Kim, Steve, Chris, are you kidding me? The water system in Prospect Park is artificial. The "environment" you say is being harmed by vicious, evil barbed hooks is artificial. The water that flows through the Ravine, down to the Lake, is city water. It's the exact same water that comes out of your taps, that you drink and bathe in. It's not some pristine, oh-my-god-how-could-we-dare-offend-Gaia jewel of ur-original forest watershed. The fish that live in that watershed have been placed there.

Bahlman and Titze have already discredited themselves on the issue of the environment in Prospect Park. The only explanation for why they keep getting a hearing in this paper is that they know Natalie O'Neill and buy her drinks. So let's all stop pretending they're Muir or Thoreau. They're really, really not.

Actual, real fishing in the park would be great. Stock it with real, spirited and edible fish and then treat it like every other fishing stream in the state. Make people who are fishing it have up-to-date fishing licenses. If they take the initiative to go out and catch their supper, then hats off to them. It's a far healthier relationship to the food supply than the sterile, over-priced filets most people here buy at Union Market.
March 21, 2012, 5:30 pm
Hank from Kensington says:
An example of why ignorance is not bliss:

Scott is the perfect apologist that the Alliance courts favor with. Taking fish from a filthy lake sounds reasonable, but not for him to eat.

"Stock it with real, spirited and edible fish"

The fish are far from edible in that lake and he makes demands of the park to fulfill his pipe dream.
March 21, 2012, 6:01 pm
Peter from Brooklyn Heights says:
I've never heard of or seen the Alliance enforce ANY rule.
March 21, 2012, 6:45 pm
Harris from Park Slope says:
Who can seriously fish in what has become the poorest excuse for a lake in a city park
March 21, 2012, 7:12 pm
Ron from Prospect Heights says:
Only a fool (Paul Nelson) would continue to make the inane statements he has to the media when asked to explain the Prospect Park Alliance's position.
The track record is nothing is taken "very seriously" and if his biggest goal is to minimize the damage, come on. All he accomplishes is to make the Alliance look lacking in good judgment.
March 21, 2012, 7:47 pm
Russell from Park Slope says:
People like Scott give Park Slope a bad name.
March 21, 2012, 10:12 pm
Parker from Park Slope says:
I'm out walking around the lake and lullwater early most mornings and lately I've been seeing a lot more guys fishing. Lots of them; instead of seeing none or 1, I'll see 10 or more and I've wondered if something odd is going on for such an increase.

I've also witnessed two dogs, one of them my own, get abandoned hooks in their paws at the peninsula beach lately.
March 21, 2012, 10:59 pm
K. from ArKady says:
Don't put your finger's too close; they're likely to be bitten off.
March 22, 2012, 12:39 am
john from church avenue says:
Well firstly the official should start checking the permits cause i have been fishing here for last two years and have never seen anyone get checked. Secondly one thing i know it is off topic that bothers me the most is why is smoking not allowed in the park, when people can barbeque and produce huge amounts of smoke. It plain and stupid how we human think. Anyways this season fishing seems ——ty because of the construction going on which has been going on for ever. Poachers should be punished but to tell u truth there is hardly any good fishes here at the park.
March 22, 2012, 11:29 am
Pat from Park Slope says:
What is so difficult to understand is how inept the Alliance is when asked to repond. Prospect Park is in Brooklyn, New York, not some obscure swampy bayou. There is no credible response to even the most legitimate inquiries.
March 22, 2012, 4:03 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Hank: It's funny that you reckon the lake in Prospect Park "filthy." The water that feeds that watershed is city water, pumped out artificially into the watercourse that Vaux and Olmstead designed. No run-off from the surrounding area dumps into it. It is distinct. It could scarcely be cleaner if the fish had grown within a climate-controlled lab. So if you were to catch any fish to eat anywhere, you could hardly do better than the lake in Prospect Park.

Prospect Park is not the first place I would personally think of to catch edible fish, but hey, why not? Stocked with real fish, governed by State of NY fishing laws, why not?

Humans need to eat animals and plants that grow apart from them. Those humans who catch and forage their own are closer to the source than those who buy factory-produced equivalents in markets. Anyone who says otherwise is so consumed by guilt for the material requirements of their own existence that they cannot acknowledge basic facts.

Get real: everything you eat, whether meat or vegetable, had a life and was exposed to weather and other factors before you ever ate it. Just because you catch or harvest those things yourself does not render that any less true.
March 23, 2012, 6:25 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
That is a good idea Sott but I am nor sure the waterways in the park could support such a poplulation - the fish that is. If someone is bad off enough to have eat the roach fish from the lake what do peoples care albeit not leaving hooks is a no brainer not so much for dogs but for kids or the pervs heading to the cruising grounds.
used to go fishing there when i was a kid for the a and s competition - plenty of white fish.
March 24, 2012, 5:23 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
old time brooklyn, you'd be quite surprised. there are many places in the country that have commercial fish ponds where you pay a fee to cast a lure into a body of water teaming with large, edible fish. everyone, from the operators to the customers, knows that it's not a natural situation, but they still find value in it. when you catch a fish from a controlled watershed, like the one in the park, you can actually have more confidence in eating it safely than when you pulled it from a random "natural" stream. the lake in prospect park could be the same.

the lake in the park will never feed the hungry. that's not the point. but it does provide sportsmen with the chance to win their bread themselves and become more connected to the food cycle. "Food cycle" sounds a little hippy dippy, but what it really means is if you're about to eat that animal, you'd probably prefer it didn't eat toxic garbage first, right?

the lefferts farm house next to the zoo always runs programs where residents can sow, grow, and harvest plants. why not make the lake the fauna counterpart to that? you know that the original dutch did.
March 29, 2012, 12:39 pm
:) says:
I cant speak for everyone but fishing has taken me to the outdoors and respect the environment. Nothing worse for a fisherman to go to a spot and it is clogged with rubbish. Are you all vegiterians? OK swans, ducks eat the hooks and it causes problems. The law should not be against the hooks but against the people littering or being reckless with their hooks.

Is fishing illegal at the park? Can I use a net? or a barbless hook?

At the same time the swans and ducks at suburban parks like that are not wild they are semi domesticated because people feed them so they loiter in that one spot for the food and make a mess of the water and the only fish you will end up finding are the dirty bottom dwelling fish like carp or something similar you may have in your country that isnt worth fishing for.

So it is a little hard to be talking about protecting your environment when YOUR environment is kitchen and laundry sinks with detergents and cosmetic chemicals being drained into open water, cars giving off heat and CO2 emissions, concrete and steel and a few acres of mowed grass with a hole in the middle filled with water.
Dec. 18, 2012, 8 pm
Relocated from Marine park says:
Having moved not so long ago from northwest jersey where I grew up as an avid outdoorsman, I do not understand how the powers that be do not know catch and release does not work. The lake system is an artificially produced, man made environment which makes it a flawed system. If there is no top predator to keep the population in balance, the population explodes which stunts the overall growth of the individual fish and makes the entire population ripe for die offs from various parasites and diseases. That being said, a sportsman follows the established state regulations and is mindful of the evironment within which he or she is active. Lastly, the idea of eating fish from a water polluted by the fecal matter of the over populated waterfowl is not very appealing. Having majored in wildlife management / environmental science incollege, the one thing I do know is when humans attempt to regulate mother nature, they will inevitably screw it up.
Feb. 10, 2013, 3:50 pm
Stu bailey (angler) from Park slope says:
I have been fishing in this park for many years & apologize for any hooks that were left lying around. I assure you it was not from myself or anybody i fish with. Just a small point i would like to make. Its funny how everyone is so concerned about the fisherman's ways but have not mentioned on thing about the numerous mexican bums that are just thriving around the park. Me and friends meet up at a place we like to call the Marriot cause there is sooo many mexicans sleeping there. I never seen a fisherman harrassing anyone & trust me if we cant get the hook out of a fishes mouth ( and its rare ) we r truly upset. But i sure have seen problems around the Marriot. Get your priorities in order & Focus your attention where it is needed.
March 11, 2013, 1:06 am
John from Dyker Heights says:
I was born and grew up across from Prospect Hall on Prospect Avenue close to I.S.10. This was in the 1940's era. Not a Summer day passed without me grabbing my rod, a sandwich and drink, and spending a day fishing the "big lake" in Prospect Park. My buddies and myself caught literally thousands of sunnies, perch, bass, bullheads, carp and roach. Some were eaten, most were returned to the lake, unharmed. Of course we used barbed hooks, we didn't know anything about the need to use barbless hooks. I'm seventy-six, now, and recently took a ride over to the lake. I wanted to cry at the situation I encountered. The entire section of the lake is weeded over, at least in the area near Vanderbilt Avenue. There was no place to cast a line, maybe on the other side, near the skating rink is fishable. Ah, to be twelve years old again, and experience the carefree, healthy times spent at Prospect Park lake.
April 15, 2013, 8:44 am
John from Dyker Heights says:
I was born and grew up across from Prospect Hall on Prospect Avenue close to I.S.10. This was in the 1940's era. Not a Summer day passed without me grabbing my rod, a sandwich and drink, and spending a day fishing the "big lake" in Prospect Park. My buddies and myself caught literally thousands of sunnies, perch, bass, bullheads, carp and roach. Some were eaten, most were returned to the lake, unharmed. Of course we used barbed hooks, we didn't know anything about the need to use barbless hooks. I'm seventy-six, now, and recently took a ride over to the lake. I wanted to cry at the situation I encountered. The entire section of the lake is weeded over, at least in the area near Vanderbilt Avenue. There was no place to cast a line, maybe on the other side, near the skating rink is fishable. Ah, to be twelve years old again, and experience the carefree, healthy times spent at Prospect Park lake.
April 15, 2013, 8:44 am
Pryor from Tha dark side says:
Jesus get a life you buncha richies let people fish barbed hooks are not a danger to wildlife any more than the garbage that covers the city. I have fished all over the world and the only worry of barbed hooks is to fisherman themselves or to very sensitive fish such as trout that die easily when released from a barbed hook. You all need to find a hobby instead of runnin your mouths about someone else's at least these kids are fishing and my robbing you on the subway. Mind your damn business
July 6, 2013, 1:24 pm

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