Give a man a fish and he’s hungry again in an hour. Teach a man to fish and he’ll go fishing on Broad Street.
If you were walking in Center City Philadelphia Wednesday, you may have noticed a peculiar sight. Mike Iaconelli, of Pittsgrove, New Jersey, sat near a storm drain at Broad and Race streets holding a fishing rod. Next to him sat a channel catfish in a yellow bucket that he claimed he caught in the inlet.
“A lot of people don’t know, Broad Street, all this runs in the Schuylkill River which runs in the Delaware River,” he said. “People can have great fishing right here in Center City and a lot of people don’t realize that.”
Iaconelli, who told NBC10 he's gone city fishing since he was a child, said he’s caught everything from American eels to snakeheads to rats while city fishing. His bait of choice? Hot dogs and Philadelphia soft pretzels.
“People that are done with their food, they throw it in so this is natural,” he said. “These are Philly fish, all the way. Tried and true. If [the] fish could talk, they’d probably say, ‘E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!”
Iaconelli told NBC10 he fishes for sport and releases anything he catches.
“It’s fun. It’s real relaxing,” he said. “It keeps me outside. Keeps me in good shape.”
So was the catfish Iaconelli showed off actually swimming in the storm drain? John DiGiulio of the Philadelphia Water Department has his doubts, considering how far the location is from the river.
“We at the Water Department have never pulled a living fish out of an inlet and the location of it makes it extremely unlikely that it occurred naturally,” DiGiulio said.
Iaconelli is also a professional bass tournament angler and the host of a new city fishing show on Nat Geo Wild, which calls into question whether or not his Center City fishing was a publicity stunt. One large-mouth clue that points to a stunt: The Nat Geo Wild show premieres on Friday.
Iaconelli insisted however that he regularly goes fishing on Broad Street. He even suggested it was a bit therapeutic when it comes to dealing with the hustle and bustle of a big city.
“The noise, all this, it kind of disappears,” he said. “And I get to meet great people and catch some fish.”