For many who enjoy the ancient pastime and sport of fishing, the passion comes from a place with deep roots in childhood: fishing with a dad or a grandmother, remembering just the right number of times to loop a line for that most steadfast of knots, remembering the little secrets they passed on for luring in the big one, remembering the frenzied excitement of that first catch, forever cherishing the picture snapped after.
On Saturday, September 8, Philly families will have the perfect opportunity to create those memories—even if no one in the family has a lick of fishing know-how.
Now in its 14th year, the catch-and-release Philly Fun Fishing Fest at Schuylkill Banks in Center City is an event that’s special because it goes out of its way to be open to all, inviting experienced anglers and newcomers alike to see first-hand just how much our scenic Schuylkill River has to offer.
All you have to do is register right here by Sept. 6: if you don’t have your own, bait and rods are loaned on a first-come, first-served basis. As our partners, the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission will even lift fishing license requirements for that section of the river during Philly Fun Fishing Fest.
With lots of friendly fellow anglers out there, it’s the perfect spot to learn about the basics of fishing without investing tons of money and time. In fact, with dozens of prizes distributed each year for everything from first fish caught to most fish caught, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with some new gear from the sponsors at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bob’s Bait and Tackle and Flambeau Outdoors.
Public transportation and ADA access also make Schuylkill Banks the ideal location for a fest where the mission is getting more people hooked on the recreational offerings of Philly waterways.
Lest you confuse “open to all” with “kids’ stuff” when it comes to fish-catching potential, take note of this viral photo shared with the Schuylkill River Greenways NHA on social media:
Wow! A 40-lb, 45-inch muskie in the #Schuylkill? That's a sure sign of cleaner water, thanks in large part to dozens of conservation groups working hard for years. https://t.co/B91c9JfzdI pic.twitter.com/TZkaToCyuF— WilliamPennFdn (@WilliamPennFdn) August 9, 2018
While most of the fish caught each year are a bit closer to this size than the, uh, 40-pound-alligator-with-gills seen above, Philly’s western river is truly a prolific aquatic habitat that supports everything from striped bass and shad to otters and beavers right in the downtown stretch of the 110- mile waterway.
One of the most storied rivers in American fishing history, the Delaware River’s largest tributary is a body of water that connects Philadelphia both to the sea—rising as much as eight feet at the Market Street Bridge, thanks to tides—and the upstate ecosystems of streams and rivers that flow through mountains and forests. That geographical diversity translates to a diverse list of species thriving in the waters off Schuylkill Banks, and for anglers that diversity also means an added thrill - unless you can reel it in, you may never know what’s tugging on the other end of your line.
In addition to the aforementioned striped bass and shad, fish spotted passing through the nearby fish ladder upstream at the Fairmount Dam include several catfish species, carp, trout, perch, freshwater large and smallmouth bass, sunfish, eels, and more. That abundance and a crowd that included a number of fans helped lure local fishing celebrity Leo Sheng, founder of the popular Extreme Philly Fishing YouTube channel, to last year's event. (He shot this video of the Fest for his subscribers, and it has since been seen over 18,000 times!)
If you’ve heard enough to be convinced that Philly Fun Fishing Fest is your chance to start a family tradition—or if you’re a fishing vet who thinks you can take home the 2018 prize for largest fish—make sure to get registered by the September 6 deadline.
Still need convincing? Check out this story from last year, where we talked with a father and son who have yet to miss our annual fishing fest.
- Saturday, September 8, 2018 from 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
- Awards ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m.
- Fishing takes place at Schuylkill Banks, 24th and Walnut Streets (see parking and transit info)
- Rain date is September 22
- Free to the public
- No fishing license required
- Fishing gear available to borrow
- Prizes awarded in various categories
- Meet on Schuylkill Banks
- Bring your own snacks & refreshments