"On Anacostia, Some Don't Catch Tainted-Fish Warning"

Many anglers who pull fish out of the Anacostia River near Washington, DC, eat them despire health warnings.

"Gary Oesby sat at a wobbly picnic table at the edge of the Anacostia River, two fishing poles leaning on thin tree limbs, lines in the cold water, stewed beef sweetened with vanilla extract balled up on both hooks, beckoning catfish to take their last bite ever.

Oesby, 53, retired, with mouths to feed at home in Southeast, sat patiently for more than an hour. 'They're not biting today,' he said on a recent Monday, 'but it's normally a good spot.' On other days, he claimed he's caught 30 to 40 fish. Now he would be happy with a few, maybe some tasty channel catfish, the ones with the huge head. 'I want to eat good.'

There are hundreds of anglers like him, District and Prince George's County residents mostly, who throw lines in the Anacostia and pull out catfish, rockfish and carp for supper, according to a new study. But it says the fish — especially catfish, which bottom-feed in a toxic soup of muck — are contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals 'that present a health risk' to the people who eat them."

Darryl Fears reports for the Washington Post December 16, 2012.