The waters of New York City are alive!
Gotham Fish Tales tells the boisterous story of NYC fishermen who plumb the city’s unexpectedly vital waters to hook all manner of fish. New York has over 500 miles of coastline and more than 250 species of fish live or migrate through Gotham’s waterways. Everything from small tuna to sharks to weighty striped bass to great schools of menhaden, bluefish , and shad are seen within city boundaries. Porpoises, harbor seals and giant sea turtles visit the harbors, straits and bays of the city, and every year even a few whales turn up in these waters.
Yet this isn’t a film about fishing, per se. It’s a narrative about how people connect with their environment for recreational as well as spiritual release. It speaks to the connection between residents of a densely packed city and their natural surroundings. The film also gives voice to the few commercial fishermen who struggle to make a living from this hard pressed and highly restricted resource.
Dogged bridge and pier fishermen spend countless hours above the water jigging for everything form ling to blackfish. Party boats take off daily, where great numbers of fish can be caught just offshore. Colorful characters of the first order are featured, like Philip, cab driver by day and devoted fisherman whenever he gets a moment. His truck is filled with fishing rods and bait. There’s Ronnie, the fast talking fisherman of the Marine Parkway bridge who spends all summer pulling up fish, and Dave, who hunts for stripers with a fly rod under the Verrazano bridge. Larry and son Larry Jr. are among a tiny handful of Jamaica baymen who struggle to eke out a living as commercial fishermen in the shadow of jets roaring in and out of JFK airport. Their connections to the fishery vary, though all see the water as a fishing zone, not just something to cross over by bridge or under by tunnel.
This film surprises and enlightens viewers about a city that everyone holds some stake in, but few know even has this hidden resource, literally just under the surface.