The following blurb came from The American Angler of 06 September 1884. It was written by a man who for all accounts is recounting fishing in and around the 1830s in New York, which just goes to show you that the phrase "the fishing was much better when I was a kid" is not new.
Fishing Now, and Fishing Then
It may be interesting to the readers of The American Angler and to anglers in general to read of the fishing in the rivers and bays adjoining this great city years ago, when a man could take a strong reed pole, with strong line and good-sized blackfish hook, walk to any of the docks on the East River, from State street to the Hook dock, and catch a fine mess of fish in a short time. The rivers at that time abounded with fish, good ones, too, and there was plenty of food for them. So sure as the fishing season came, so sure would the fish accumulate around the reefs and docks in the rivers adjoining this city.
When I was a boy I would take my reed pole, about ten or twelve feet of line, and a basket, go to the Catherine Street Market, buy three cents' worth of clams; (if I could get shedder crab I would consider it a lucky thing), and would then go to the end of one of the piers, take a seat on the string piece of the dock, and fish close to one of the spiles, and the fish would gather there to feed. In a short time I would get a fine lot of blackfish and sea bass from half a pound to three pounds in weight. I have often caught blackfish of four pounds' weight off the docks.
-- An Old Resident
New York, Sept. 1884