TRIBECA — When Rocco Scarcella, 3, cast his reel off Pier 25 on the Hudson River, he had no idea he would have a flopping fish at the end of his line only a few minutes later.
"I want to look at the fish," said Rocco, as he peered into the tub where the fish was placed after he reeled it in.
Big City Fishing, organized by the Hudson River Park Trust, is a program in which children and adults can spend the afternoon fishing from the pier into the waters of the Hudson River, which is not traditionally seen as a hot spot for hooking marine life.
"The idea is to get the city-folk out to the water," said Nareen Bagdasarian, a Hudson River Park employee at the pier.
Masani Stark and her daughter, Nnyala, 7, stood in the hot afternoon sun Tuesday hoping to catch a fish. The mother said she used to fish in the Hudson River with her older daughter.
"I'm trying to start the tradition again with [Nnyala]," said Stark, who had brought her daughter out to fish for the first time this summer.
Despite the fishing program, people are not encouraged to eat the fish that are caught from the Hudson. Big City Fishing is a "catch and release" program, meaning the fish are carefully removed from the hook and eventually released back into the river.
While Bagdasarian said she's had people insist that the fish are perfectly edible, the Trust preaches caution, handing out brochures from the New York State Department of Health that explain the complications of eating fish caught in the Hudson River.
Stark said she didn't plan on making a meal out of a Hudson River fish anytime soon.
"I don't even consider eating them," she said.