Fishing for a cleaner Anacostia River

Agencies join forces to create green opportunities in D.C.

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Black cormorants are clustered in trees on the riverbank, and Mr. Lyon says this as a sign that fish are near.

“Our biggest problem will be finding productive parts of shoreline where there aren’t so many fishermen,” he said.

Beyond Chain Bridge, the crew gets to work. Mr. Lyon and Ms. Bronis use long-handled nets to pull in snakeheads after the fish are immobilized by the electrical current surrounding the boat.

Nearby anglers greet the crew and joke about what they could catch with an electro-fishing boat such as this. Two men from Rockville seem to be doing all right, hauling in a 25-pound blue catfish and posing for a photograph.

Moving closer to the steep cliffs on the Virginia side, Mr. Ryan turns broadside and lets the current take the boat back downstream, occasionally giving it gas to carry it back upstream, then back down again.

Pedestrians stop on Chain Bridge to watch as the DDOE crew hauls in a few small snakeheads. “Nice snag, Luke,” Mr. Ryan says as his colleague nets a decent-sized snakehead, records its weight and measurements and tags it with blue plastic insulated fishing line.

When he gets back to his office, Mr. Lyon will enter data into a computer spreadsheet and share it with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s just a small slice of what DDOE does, but it’s a holistic mission that keeps these biologists busy.

“A lot of fisheries work is done at night because it’s easier to catch the fish,” Mr. Ryan says. “But we don’t go out on the water on Friday night.”

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