Fish Tales: An Interview with A Southwest Angler

Globe Times - Fishing

What is your name and age?
Ismailiah, 42

Do you live or have you lived in Southwest Philadelphia? If so, for how long?
I have lived in the Southwest, Cobbs Creek, and West Philly area my whole life.

When did you first learn to fish? How did you learn?
I learned how to fish with the Girl Scouts as a child at Tinicum. We made fishing rods out of fallen branches and used canned corn for bait.

What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught on the Schuylkill?
I caught catfish as a youngster. Recently, my luck hasn’t been that great on the Schuylkill. As a Cub Scout leader, I’ve had some better luck in other waterways when we’ve taken the Scouts out on the water.

Do you like to eat fish?
I’m a catch and release fisherman. I do like fish sautéed with lemon and butter though.

Why do you enjoy fishing on the Schuylkill? What’s your favorite thing about fishing here?
I enjoy the easy access to the water we have. We were able to take advantage of community boating days at Bartram’s Garden. We’ve been able to expose inner city youth to fishing at Nature Days at John Heinz. When you’re down by the water, it’s almost like you’ve been transported back in time and far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

What would you like people who haven’t gone fishing in the city to know?
Be open-minded. Fishing can be a valuable tool. You’d be able to feed your family in a pinch, if you needed to. There’s a great community of fisherman who were willing to help me out and answer my questions. And being on and near the water and realizing that its health and cleanliness is tied to our ability to eat the fish was mind-blowing. The litter, chemicals, and pollution from humans and pollution from the oil factories all play a role.

Do you have a favorite story or memory from fishing here?
I think you learn a lot about yourself fishing. My son once got a hook stuck in his hand. I was extremely painful but he had to practice how to calm down, find a grown-up to help him, and administer first aid in the outdoors. It was something that put all his Scouting skills to good use.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I think all our natural resources are underutilized. I hope you can shed light on the gems we have right in our backyard.

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