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What's at the bottom of the Anacostia River? WUSA9 goes 'magnet fishing'

Explorer and relic hunter Evan Woodard brought WUSA9 along as he searched for sunken 'treasure' in D.C.'s Navy Yard.

WASHINGTON — Generally speaking, the only "fishing" that usually happens in D.C.'s Navy Yard is among singles who are trolling for love.

Not on this unseasonably warm winter day. I carried no tackle box, no fishing pole and no bait. Yet, I was off for an afternoon of "fishing" along the banks of the Anacostia River just blocks away from Nats Park in Southeast D.C.

"You just need a bucket, a rope and yourself," said Evan Woodard with a smile and a laugh.

Woodard is my guide for this scavenger hunting adventure. Good thing I wore jeans and tennis shoes. It was about to get messy.

Armed with an armada of video cameras and the Boss 360° 3,500-magnet our Anacostia exploration began with optimism and excitement.

"Were going to throw it out and there and see what we get," said Woodard.

"What could we get?" I queried.

"Old stuff. This is a historic area right here. You could also get a lot of trash. Modern things. Scooters, bikes, cellphones. Whatever people throw down there," he replied.

Woodard is the founder of "Salvage Arc," a Baltimore-based organization devoted to his exploratory search for artifacts. He's also a photographer and historian.

"We might get lucky and find a cannon. How awesome would that be?" Woodard asks with a gleam in his eye.

"Would we call someone?" I reply, with a roll of my eyes. 

"I think you and I could handle it. We could probably pull it out," he said.

At this point, I start to think that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. The headlines flash through my mind: "Local TV reporter explodes after retrieving Revolutionary War cannonball from Anacostia River muck." 

I remain. Because there's something wrong with me psychologically and because I'm already too deeply invested into putting this story on television.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Woodard and I come to realize a simple truth: we've found the cleanest spot in the entire Anacostia River. 

We pulled out a grand total of three bottlecaps and a piece of twisted iron that looked like part of a discarded bed frame. My mood matched that of the deformed metal fragment. 

It's a different story in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, where Woodard gets together with friends every week for a magnet fishing meetup.

His fellow fishermen and women include Captain Luke McFadden of the FV Southern Girl crab boat out of Pasadena, Maryland who I've featured in a previous story. Additionally, Route One Apparel founder and owner Ali von Paris has been spotted along the Inner Harbor with Woodard lurking for lost loot.  

"It's so much fun. I host it every Thursday in Baltimore but I'm hoping to bring it down here (to D.C.) too," said Woodard. "Folks come from all over the state just to hang out, have fun and see what we can find and clean the Harbor." 

Woodard and his crew have had much better luck than during our exploration of the Anacostia. Their biggest haul? Scooters. 

"Fifteen now. I don't know why people do it," Woodard says. 

You can check out some of the other things Woodard and friends have retrieved over the past few months by checking out his Salvage Arc Instagram page.

"There's always something out there. You just have to find that 6-inch area to come over and boom. You got it," Woodard said.

According to the website advertising it for sale, the Boss 360° 3,500-pound magnet can lift up to 434 pounds. It's slightly larger than four hockey pucks stacked on top of each other and every side is magnetized. 

It weighs less than ten pounds and all you do is throw it in a body of water while its attached to a rope and tethered to something along the shore so you don't lose it to the water. 

Even something that easy was manageable for me to personally screw up. During one of my first tosses, I threw the magnet aiming towards the water but instead, it ended up landing with a massive clang as it impacted the aluminum dock.  

Fortunately for Woodard, I didn't break it. 

Unfortunately for me, our unsuccessful adventure continued until my jeans were caked in mud and my hands were frozen. 

But yes. I'd go magnet fishing again in DC. If we found a different spot.

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