MyMariner’s Park is not the best known of Detroit’s parks, but fisherman Sid swears that it is Detroit’s safest area.
It is tucked in the Northeast corner of the city abutted by Grosse Pointe Park and the mouth of the Detroit River as it meets Lake St. Clair. There are parts of Mariner’s Park which are typical Detroit. It is kind of dirty because people don’t pick up their litter. There are a couple of worn soccer goals that have not been score upon in years.
None of that matters to Sid who says he comes here to fish every day — weekend and week day. He’s got three poles poking in the river in search of silver bass and green bass, cat fish and walleye.
You can catch anything in here,” said fisherman Sid, a retired Detroit auto worker. “We are not having a lot of luck today but sometimes you get a hit on your first line before you can get the second in the water. And it is like pop, pop, bam, bam all day long.”
My Golden State Warriors T-shirt draws his attention and ire.
“Hey man. I don’t like your shirt,” he said. “I was rooting for LeBron and the Cavs.”
I explain that I have a daughter who lives in the Bay area and she brings me back shirts with Golden State, Stanford and 49ers logos on them. That seems to satisfy Sid and we move on to other things.
We look out over the water. Belle Isle is just across the pale blue river. About a quarter mile to our left the water turns a deeper blue. That is the beginning of Lake St. Clair and its deeper, rougher waters.
“I’d rather sit out here than be in my back yard,” Sid says. “This is the safest place in the city. All the Detroit police come out here on their days off. There are some right over there.”
He points to a picnic table filled with laughing men and women playing cards. Two children sell bags of candy for a dollar a bag. A woman braids a young girls hair and people sit in their cars marveling at the open water and fresh air.
But mostly people fish. A woman pulled a Walleye out of a white bucket. The three foot monster is still flopping as she takes it home to cook.
Sid turns his attention to two other women who struggle bait their hooks. He laughs.
“Those girls got bells on their lines,” Sid says. “I’ve been coming out here for more than seven years and I ain’t ever used a bell in my life.”
One of the women turns our way.
“I know y’all talking bout us and our bells,” she said. “Tell that old man we gonna catch more fish than him.”
We share a laugh and I leave this budding fishing rivalry.
As I leave about a half dozen men debate where LeBron James will end up after free agency. By the way LeBron if you ever read this, the brothers out there don’t want you to end up in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.
I am nearly in my car when a man stops me to talk.
‘What’s your boy Trump up to,” he asks.
I can tell a joke is coming but he wants to make a political statement at the same time.
“He’s rough on them Muslims and Hispanics,” he said. “We not gonna have none of them in our country after a while. You know we are next. So watch out”
I argue that Donald Trump will not begin randomly shipping black people to Africa.
“OK,” the man said chuckling. “I want you to remember what I told you after he ships your ass to Wakanda.”
I will make sure to keep my papers updated.