LOWER EAST SIDE — Lower East Side kids are getting hooked on fishing.
The neighborhood's Ecology Center recently launched its summer fishing clinics in the East River — providing free tackle, bait and instruction to anyone who wants to cast a line.
"I like to show them that things still live in here so they will take responsibility to keep pollution out of the river," said Dan Tainow, the education director for the center.
The sessions are strictly catch-and-release, he said.
The clinics run most Fridays and some Saturdays until Sept. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. near the Lower East Side Ecology Center's building on the East River at Grand Street.
"I tried really hard and I almost got a fish," said an excited Desmond Siraisi, 5, who attended a recent fishing lesson. "It got away."
Striped bass, black sea bass, bluefish and blue crabs are just a few of the species that live in New York City's waterways, Tainow said.
As well as protecting the fish population, the catch-and-release rules are also in place because of pollution.
"Some of these fish are contaminated with heavy metals like cadmium, lead and PCBs," Tainow said.
In addition to fishing lessons, the Lower East Side Ecology Center provides free public compost collection as well as education on waste and the environmental issues facing New York City.