WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) --Forecasters don't usually look to fishing as a leading economic indicator.
But you can finds signs of today's tough unemployment numbers along the banks of the Anacostia and the Potomac.
Like millions of other Americans, Bobby Jones has no job and little hope of finding one. "Everywhere you try to work, you can't get no work. I can't get none. Ain't nobody call me for work no more."
The 50-year-old former carpet layer has joined the growing ranks of unemployed who've turn to the river for sustenance.
In a few hours, he's pulled out a half dozen catfish. "It makes a big difference in the meat." "Get some protein in you?" "Yeah."
Riverkeepers say the ranks of people eating fish from the city's polluted rivers has steadily swelled with economic hard times.
But in Anacostia Park, three long time unemployed friends are well aware of the risks. "I still wouldn't eat out of there, even if I was starving," says Louis Queen of Southeast. "All them plants and stuff, they got all kind of chemicals that's in the water," says his friend Jacqueline Tolbert.
Environmental experts say what Bobby Jones is up to is not safe. "Catch it and release it, because there is pollution in the water and it accumulates in the fish," says DC's Department of Environment director Christophe Tolou.
Especially in bottom feeders like catfish.
But Jones says he's too hungry to quit. "I'm going to try and catch some more."
Environmental officials say if you must eat fish from the city's rivers, you should do it sparingly. Catfish should be skinned, filleted, and the fatty oils cooked out and thrown away.
Written by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com