The New York Times features a cabbie, Philip Frabosilo, who fishes in the East River. Now, while Gothamist has seen intrepid fishermen (no women spotted) on the Hudson, we had assumed that it was just for spot...not eating. But Frabosilo says, "I've caught 15,000 fish here in the last 10 years of my life, and I've eaten 75 meals from the East River...Never got sick once."
Fraboliso was featured in a documentary about fisherman in the city, Gotham Fish Tales, that was shown at the Municipal Arts Society. Filmmaker Rob Maass is looking for distribution.
It's mob lore that bodies are dumped into the East River. The Westies, the Irish gang from Hell's Kitchen, was also known for dumping bodies there. There has been an urban legend about alligators in the East River.
Olbigatory Seinfeld reference: Episode where Kramer swims in the East River, passing a corpse, and eventually smelling stinky on land.