Two local fishing enthusiasts are out to prove that the "dirty Delaware" isn't so dirty after all by organizing Philadelphia's first Striped Bass Fishing Derby.
The derby - from Sunday through June 5 on the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers - is the brainchild of local anglers Len Albright, 30, and Jason Strohl, 32 - longtime friends who bonded over their shared love of fishing.
"We learned about the striped bass in the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers and realized that most people don't even know there are fish in those rivers," Albright said. "People drive down to the beach to fish for striped bass, but there are striped bass right here."
Albright and Strohl said that getting locals acquainted with the beautiful bass - which pass through Philadelphia rivers in April and May on their way to the Trenton area to spawn - will help increase environmental stewardship.
"When people think of the Delaware or the Schuylkill, they think of them as dirty, urban rivers," Albright said. "They don't really have a connection to them.
"People are more likely to care for the river and want to help it if they have that personal connection."
Anglers receive an official derby measuring tape at registration and, in the absence of a traditional weigh station, must submit a photo of their catch next to the tape for consideration.
"We encourage safe catch and release because the bass do travel through the Delaware to spawn," Strohl said.
Prizes will be awarded to the three longest striped bass and catfish. A coveted "Golden Crab" award will be given to the angler who catches the largest blue crab, which can wash up into tidal pools along the rivers.
"We want to focus on people being able to walk out of the house and down to the river and fish," said Albright, who said only shore fishing is allowed. "You don't need a boat."
Organizers have also scheduled "community days" on the Delaware and Schuylkill, when they will give personal fishing lessons and tips to first-timers.
"We're trying to reach out not only to people who already know how to fish but also attract people who have never fished before," Strohl said.
A kickoff event will take place on Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Johnny Brenda's at Frankford and Girard avenues in Fishtown.
Albright and Strohl said they are expecting a big turnout for the derby and hope to make it an annual event.
"We think each year will be better and better," Albright said.