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Traditions of opening day

Judy Van Put - Columnist
Posted 4/5/21

April 4, 2021

We awoke to an inch of snow on Thursday morning, April 1, Opening Day of the trout fishing season. The balmy sunny weather of the previous week had disappeared, and it was snowing …

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Traditions of opening day

Posted

April 4, 2021

We awoke to an inch of snow on Thursday morning, April 1, Opening Day of the trout fishing season. The balmy sunny weather of the previous week had disappeared, and it was snowing heavily by 7 am.

However, faithful trout fishers were out and about on both the Willowemoc in front of Livingston Manor school and the Beaverkill at Junction Pool, celebrating the dawn of the trout fishing season and shaking off the long cold grasp of winter.

River levels were high; the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls registered about 1500 cubic feet per second; the average flow over 106 years of record-keeping on April 1 was about 900 cfs. Water temperatures were chilly, in the 40s, but were actually warmer than the air temperatures, which were in the high 20s at dawn.

Despite the cold temperatures and high water, it felt good to wade again and cast a line into the swirling waters of the Beaverkill, reminiscing the tradition of fishing on opening day, and looking up at Riverview Cemetery high above the banks of the Beaverkill on a knoll overlooking Junction Pool, and remembering so many of the devoted trout fishermen buried there.

It was just a year ago we had searched again for the grave of Richard “Pop” Robbins, a famous Beaverkill angler, who was born during the Civil War, in 1863, and passed in 1937.

“Pop” was originally from New York City, a wealthy “club” fisherman, who traveled back and forth to the Catskills for many years.

His failing health in his later years caused him to retire, and so he left the city for the wilds of the Beaverkill so that he could fish his beloved river for the rest of his days. His last wishes were to be buried in the steep little cemetery that overlooked Junction Pool “so I can look up the Willowemoc, down the big Beaverkill and across to the Little River (the upper Beaverkill).”

I heard a bit of a commotion coming from a party of anglers who were fishing just upstream on Thursday afternoon, and decided to wade up to the Old Route 17 bridge over the Beaverkill where I met John, from Livingston Manor, who had just landed a nice foot-long brown trout.

John and the others in his group had caught fish; but the most successful of the group was 10-year-old (almost 11!) Gracie, who hailed originally from New York City but now lives in Fallsburg. Gracie said she had caught five trout and was hoping for a sixth! She's been fishing for a few years and enjoys it very much.

On Saturday, April 3, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum celebrated the opening of the trout fishing season.

Everyone wore masks and honored social distancing -scores of fly fishers came to the CFFCM and were warmly greeted by Jill Borenstein, CFFCM's head of special projects; Nina Daley, Administrative Assistant (volunteer) and Agnes Van Put, Hostess in the Gift Shop.

Agnes ladled out her famous soup (two kinds this year, split pea and vegetable beef) and offered “baggies” of her home-baked cookies and brownies to enthusiastic visitors.

Old friends celebrated, being happy to reunite again, as they watched Ted Patlen, the guest fly-tier, at his vise, visited the new exhibit at the Museum, and tried their hand at casting bamboo rods down on the field.

So it's now official - trout season is open again, and we can go out and enjoy all that fishing has to offer - the solitude of spending time in a beautiful environment and communing with nature, hearing the cheerful sounds of the song birds, breathing in the fresh mountain air, leaving behind the stress and hustle-bustle of schedules and everyday life, catching a colorful trout, perhaps for dinner or releasing back to catch another day.

Consider bringing along a friend or even better, a youngster to introduce to the joys of fishing.

As the old adage states: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

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