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PRICELESS

FlyFishing in the Catskills “To fish opening day on the Beaverkill is like celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem.” Red Smith New York Times Sportswriter

A S u l l i v a n C o u n t y D e m o c r a t p u b l i c a t i o n • S p r i n g 2 0 17


THE BEAVERKILL: THE HISTORY OF A RIVER AND ITS PEOPLE, 2ND EDITION, 2016.

Early Willowemoc fisherman

A brief history of Trout Fishing in the Catskills BY JUDY VAN PUT

T

Early fishing parties found lodging at times with pioneer settlers; those more centrally located turned their simple homes into inns and public houses. By 1806, the first fishing resort opened its doors in Westfield Flats (Roscoe), and fishing ac-

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he Catskills have long been known as a favorite destination for those seeking solitude, fresh air and sparkling pure water amid the charms of the wild countryside. Trout fishing in Sullivan County’s rivers and streams lured travelers as far back as the early 1800s, when native brook trout were plentiful, even when these waters were barely accessible.

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2 commodations were also found near Shin Creek (Lew Beach.) Trout seekers made their way from Kingston, Newburgh and other locations over arduous routes on horseback or stagecoach to flyfish the waters of the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Neversink and Callicoon Creek. Steamboats began to travel up the Hudson River in 1808; by 1835 it had become the busiest waterway in the young nation, providing transportation both day and night between New York City and Albany, with stops in-between enabling an increasing number of anglers access to Catskill trout streams. Early fishermen tended to keep their abundant catches of trout in baskets, common sizes of which could hold up to 24 pounds of fish. After hearing tales of hundreds of the speckled beauties being caught in a single day, scores of new trout fishers were drawn to the area and popularized the sport even more, with their colorful descriptions of satisfying experiences. Not only were tremendous numbers of wild trout taken from Catskill rivers and streams, but

SPORTSMENS

great sizes of the delectable fish were being reported in larger bodies of water, such as White Lake. In 1811, a boardinghouse nearby was taking in fishing tourists, and the lake soon earned the reputation of harboring the “largest trout in the world�; a trout was caught by Louis Platt in 1843 that weighed eight pounds, 14 ounces, and measured 26 inches in length! By the 1870s, the native brook trout were disappearing, reduced in average size and numbers by over-fishing. The first stocking of hatcheryraised brook trout in Sullivan County occurred on the Beaverkill in 1876, downstream of Shin Creek. In 1881 a new species, the California Mountain trout, (Rainbow) was introduced into the waters of the Beaverkill and Shin Creek, as well as in other Sullivan County trout streams over the next few years. And by the end of the 1880s, the (German) Brown trout had been placed in all the major Catskill trout streams. Also during this era, the establishment of pri-

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the six NYC Catskill Reservoirs of Ashokan, Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton, Rondout and Schoharie. Catch-and-release (“No Kill”) areas still produce great numbers of brown and rainbow trout, and statewide fishing regulations allow up to five trout per day to be taken from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Favorite destinations for trout fishing still include the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Neversink, Callicoon and Mongaup Creeks, as well as the East, West and PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE VAN PUT main branches of the Delaware River. Whirling Eddy Check out the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Fishing Syllabus for Statewide fishing regulaCONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 tions, as well as Special Regulations areas that vate fishing clubs and preserves, along with the extend the trout fishing beyond the traditional institution of fish and game laws in New York April 1 - October 15. Look for signage along faState, helped to rejuvenate the excellent trout vorite fishing locations to provide information on Fisherman Parking areas and Boat launches. fishing that the region had been known for. Today, Sullivan County and the surrounding And on the lower Beaverkill, from Junction Pool Catskills are still a much-sought-after destina- downstream, be sure to read the blue-and-yeltion for trout fishing tourists. Satisfied anglers low Historical Markers denoting the most fareport good catches of fish - some measured in mous pools and detailing some of the rich u inches; others by the pound, such as from any of history of trout fishing in the Catskills.

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Fly Casting COURTESY OF "JOAN WULFF'S FLY FISHING."

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ly fishing is an angling weightless and goes method in which an artifialong as a passenger. cial "fly" is used to catch Since the last few feet trout, salmon and other game are composed of a thin fish. The fly is cast using a long invisible filament, the rod, a reel to hold the line and a fly lands as if it were a flexible weighted fly line. Using a newly hatched insect nearly weightless fly requires emerging from its yeartechniques significantly different long dormancy. from other forms of casting. Good casting does The idea of fly fishing is to cast not require strength as an artificial fly in front of a fish much as technique. with a hook disguised with feathThis is “dance” rather ers and fur as a natural invertethan “muscle strength.” brate or other food organism. If There are many apPHOTO COURTESY OF CFFCM proaches to casting done correctly – which is to say realistically and naturally – the and many excellent inJoan Wulff trout (or other fish) will believe this structors. is a real “fly” to be eaten and the fish will strike One of the best is Joan Wulff, who runs the the fly. Wulff School of Fly Fishing in Livingston Fly casting is different from all other sports Manor. She started in casting competitions in that each cast requires two strokes: a back- when just a schoolgirl, then progressed to ward stroke and a forward cast stroke. Each champion, author, instructor and spokesperstroke requires the same speed and force, so son, and today remains the leading female fly learning to throw backward is the first chal- fisherman in the world. Her teaching methodlenge. ology is simple, straightforward and, exUnlike with spinning tackle, the weight one tremely effective. Her many books and DVDs casts is not in the lure, but in the flexible fly continue to help millions of fishers around the line, which must unroll completely after each globe. stroke ends. The stroke is an acceleration to a Joan Wulff is one of the founders of the stop. The lure (artificial fly) is essentially Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum. Spring 2017

F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S 7


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Spring 2017


Bamboo Rod Making A

bamboo fly rod or a “split cane” rod is a fly fishing rod that is made from bamboo. Since the beginning of fly fishing, the materials used to make fly rods have changed from heavy woods native to England, to lighter and more elastic varieties imported from abroad, especially from South America and the West Indies. Bamboo rods became the generally favored option during the 75-year period from the 1870’s to the 1950’s when fiberglass became the predominant material. Now many rods are made from graphite as well. However, bamboo fly rods constructed by skilled makers continue to be “state-of-the-art” in performance and are cherished and revered by their owners. The technique involves cutting several strips of material from the cane, milling them into shape, and then gluing them together to form light, strong, hexagonal rods with a solid core. The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum (CFFCM) houses the Catskill Rodmakers’ Workshop and Heritage Craft Center with regular demonstrations of work in progress on, and appreciation of, bamboo fly rods. The workshop is a fully operational bamboo rodmaking shop and includes an area for historical rodmaking equipment and artifacts. It is the only nonprofit community workshop in the world dedicated to bamboo rodmaking. Edmund Everett Garrison was a structural and electrical engineer known as a maker of bamboo fly rods. His methods and designs have been used by generations of bamboo fly rod makers and his creations fetch high prices from collectors. He made about 650 rods in his lifetime. Hoagy Carmichael was making the documentary film, "Creating The Garrison Fly Rod" when he became an apprentice to Garrison. They were collaborating on a book when Garrison died in 1975. Carmichael then completed the Spring 2017

manuscript using notebooks, recordings and photographs. When published in 1977, “A Master's Guide to Building A Bamboo Fly Rod” made accessible to hobbyists and enthusiasts the methods of a craft that had previously been shrouded in secrecy. In 2013, Hoagy Carmichael donated Everett Garrison’s cane rod building workshop to the CFFCM. Other pieces of historic rodmaking equipment in the workshop include the Halstead Beveller by Hal Bacon and the Gillum Mill built by George Halstead. Donated by Jed Dempsey, these two pieces epitomize the two approaches to milling bamboo by the classic rodmakers; opening insights in how the classic Catskill rodmakers made their rods. This is especially significant in the areas of drawing nickel silver tubing and the secrets of making classic ferrules. ‘HOW IT WORKS’ BY JEFF DAY Woodworker and fly fisherman Jeff Day shares his insights about making a bamboo fly rod, “A bamboo fly rod is made of six strips of bamboo glued together to form hexagon. The strips are triangular in cross-section, and since the rod tapers from handle to tip, the triangular strips taper, too – the triangle is bigger at one end of the strip than the other. “All of this is done in three stages: first you rough out a rod blank, splitting the bamboo stem to stern, kiln drying it, and then planning it into long triangular strips – a set of six strips for each section of the rod. In the second stage, you taper the triangular strips with a block plane and a special metal form. Then you glue the pieces together, clamping the pieces together by wrapping them with thread. On a good day, it’s a piece of cake. On a bad day, it’s worse than getting skunked on the stream. Far worse. The final stage is applying the finish and attaching the hardware. I like to think of the stages as lumberjack, cabinetmaker and finisher.” F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S 9


A small hamlet in the southern part of the Town of Rockland, Livingston Manor is full of personality and intrigue. It’s the home of the annual Trout Parade, the Catskill Art Society Arts Center and the famous Willowemoc Creek known for its excellent fly fishing. STORY AND PHOTOS BY AUTUMN SCHANIL

A town with a lot of character, Livingston Manor isn’t just a place to enjoy great fishing, it’s also a place to spend the day walking and visiting Main Street. Clockwise from above is Morgan Outdoors where you can find the latest outdoor gear and information; CAS Arts Center, where you can see beautiful contemporary art; the Catskill Brewery who brew their own delicious beer; the Bradenburg Bakery that bakes fresh bread and pastries daily and the Main Street Farm Market and Cafe, where buying local ingredients is at your convenience.

10 F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S

Below, Main Street in Livingston Manor runs alongside the Willowemoc Creek, which is 27 miles long and flows through Livingston Manor to Roscoe, where it eventually joins the Beaver Kill at Junction Pool.

Spring 2017

Spring 2017

F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S 1 1


A small hamlet in the southern part of the Town of Rockland, Livingston Manor is full of personality and intrigue. It’s the home of the annual Trout Parade, the Catskill Art Society Arts Center and the famous Willowemoc Creek known for its excellent fly fishing. STORY AND PHOTOS BY AUTUMN SCHANIL

A town with a lot of character, Livingston Manor isn’t just a place to enjoy great fishing, it’s also a place to spend the day walking and visiting Main Street. Clockwise from above is Morgan Outdoors where you can find the latest outdoor gear and information; CAS Arts Center, where you can see beautiful contemporary art; the Catskill Brewery who brew their own delicious beer; the Bradenburg Bakery that bakes fresh bread and pastries daily and the Main Street Farm Market and Cafe, where buying local ingredients is at your convenience.

10 F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S

Below, Main Street in Livingston Manor runs alongside the Willowemoc Creek, which is 27 miles long and flows through Livingston Manor to Roscoe, where it eventually joins the Beaver Kill at Junction Pool.

Spring 2017

Spring 2017

F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S 1 1


First Cast 2017 CATSKILL-DELAWARE STUDIO PHOTO

First Cast will take place at Junction Pool in Roscoe at 7 a.m. on April 1.

BY SULLIVAN CATSKILLS pril 1, the opening day of fishing, is a tradition in the Sullivan Catskills. With the famous Beaverkill and Willowemoc river coming together at Junction Pool in Roscoe, it has led to the legend that a migrating trout paused at the junction of the Beaverkill River and Willowemoc Creek to decide which route it should take. After first inspecting one river, and then the other, both seemed so appealing and ideal that the trout could not decide which river to live in. The decision proved so difficult that trout eventually settled into the Junction Pool itself and sprouted a second head so that it could sit facing up both rivers and would not have to choose one over the other. Roscoe coined the name of Trout Town, USA and was named the Ultimate Fishing Town, USA by the World Fishing Network (WFN) in 2011. Fishing in the Sullivan Catskills is big

A

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business, especially fly fishing. The economic impact of fishing in Sullivan and Delaware counties infuses millions of dollars into the local businesses as well as state and local taxes. The Sullivan Catskills is home to dry fly fishing and the history of fly fishing is interpreted at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum (CFFCM) in Livingston Manor. This Hall of Fame facility presents various programs on fly tying, rod making and learn how to fish. On April 1, the Roscoe Chamber and the CFFCM host various activities starting out with First Cast at Junction Pool, usually accompanied by a celebrity caster. Besides our local Assemblywoman, Aileen Gunther, some of the celebrities have ranged from Sally Jessy Rafael to Mark Ruffalo. The other activities include fly casting and tying demonstrations and of course Agnes Van Putâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s famous traditional soups.

Spring 2017


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Tools needed for fly tying TONY RITTER PHOTO

ant to get started tying flies? One very good place to begin is with the book “The Complete Book of Fly Tying” by Eric Leiser. First published in 1977 and reprinted many times, in it the author provides beginners and experts alike with foolproof directions for tying all types of flies. Beginners especially will know where they are during every step in the process, from the moment they tie a waxed thread until they tie off the fly with the whip finish knot. In order to tie flies, individuals will need some equipment and materials. Here is Eric Leiser’s list of tools everyone will need.

W

CATSKILL-DELAWARE STUDIO PHOTOS

Primary tools

Vise – holds the hook while the fly is being tied. Hackle Pliers – Usually made of stainless spring steel, these work the opposite of regular pliers. They are pushed open and allowed to grasp a feather or other material and then closed by releasing the pressure. Scissors – Extremely fine and well-meshed are the prime requisite for scissors. These need to allow you to trim and cut the finest and softest feather hackle and fur fiber. Bobbin – Holds the thread while you are tying. Needs to be comfortable to hand and adjustable to the tension of the thread. Dubbing Needle (or Bodkin) – This is a pointed needle inserted into a piece of metal,

CONTINUED ON PAGE 16 Spring 2017

F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S 1 5


TONY RITTER PHOTO

of fine spring steel embedded in an aluminum handle. Handy when supply house bobbin threading wire has been misplaced.

Other necessities

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15 plastic or wood. Used for plucking out hairs, roughing fur, and applying lacquers to the heads and bodies of flies.

Secondary tools

Material Clip – This is a small metal clamp that fits onto the barrel of a standard vise and is used to hold material out of the way while other operations are in progress. Hackle Gauge – These are designed to give the proper hackle diameter for a given hook size. Especially useful for beginners just developing a sense of proportion for their flies. Whip Finisher – Used to tie the whip finish knot more simply and faster than can be done by hand. Not recommended for beginners until they learn to tie the knot by hand. Half-Hitch Tool – Used to tie the half-hitch knot. Rarely used, but an aid to beginners. Razor Blade or Scalpel – Both have a variety of uses, particularly to clean the end of the dubbing needle when coated with lacquer. Bobbin Threader – A properly shaped piece

16 F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S

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Tying Bench or Table – Tying needs its own space to keep a vise clamped to it and to accommodate the feathers, fur and cement that scatters and spills. Lamp – This is delicate work that needs proper lighting, particularly a good desk lamp. If the surface is covered with green blotter paper it will reduce the harsh reflection. Wax – A cake of wax is a necessity to coat the thread on which you spin the fur to make fly bodies. Also prevents thread from slipping when wound onto the smooth shank of the hook. Lacquers and Cements – Will need a variety of these in various colors and types for particular uses you will come to prefer. Thread – This is what attaches the feather and fur to the hook. For most tying, Flymaster pre-waxed thread size 7/0 can be used. Hooks – Should be used for the purpose they were intended. Standard size and types by different manufacturers are available for various flies.

Spring 2017


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(&ศ“ษŒ8ZQวฐวฎวพศœS(FวนศคPวฎวฐวฑXHTวฒXZวฐวฑวฎ[ศœวณศFYวทศฌวฎQวฐศค ลฃ(  )+!ัดo]obv-u;]bv|;u;7|u-7;l-uhล†v;uยˆb1;l-uho=|_;+" ;r|ฤบo= 1omolb1 ;ยˆ;ัดorl;m|ฤทย†v;7ย‰b|_r;ulbvvbomฤบ

Spring 2017

F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S 1 9


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20 F LY F I S H I N G I N T H E C AT S K I L L S

Spring 2017

Fly Fishing in the Catskills 2017  

Opening day of Trout Season in upon us. Take a look inside our Fly Fishing in the Catskills special publication for a brief history of the s...

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