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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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August 01, 2014

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum: Fishing the Willowemoc

by Bob Banfelder

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum is located on a 35-acre parcel in Livingston Manor, New York, along the banks of Willowemoc Creek. Acquiring additional acreage through the years has increased the property to 55.66 acres along a mile of accessible, prime, No Kill, trout water. The Center also holds title to Junction Pool, which is the headwater of the main stream of the Beaver Kill. In other words, the area is an angling mecca just this side of Paradise for freshwater trout, especially brookies and browns. Having toured the museum, walked the Center's nature trail, and spoken at length with Jim Krul (executive director) and Erin Phelan (executive assistant), Donna and I are ready to wet a line in Wulff Run, which is situated in the middle section of Willowemoc Creek. The middle section of the Willowemoc flows from the village of Willowemoc to Livingston Manor. Its banks are lined with beautiful hemlock and spruce.

Jim Krul, Executive Director, The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, talking with the author

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum is all about preserving, protecting, and promoting fly-fishing—period. It is the world's largest fly-fishing center, recognized internationally and the home of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, the Demarest Rodmakers Gallery, the Poul Jorgensen Golden Hook Award, the Catskill Rodmakers Gathering, the Hardy Cup, the Wulff Gallery, and The Catskill Rodmakers Workshop and Arts of the Angler Craft Center. Also, it is the sister museum to Italy's International Museum of Fly Fishing in Castel di Sangro, dedicated to Stanislao Kuckiewicz. Wow!

Sculpture titled: Soon To Be Released by Bob Wolf portrays Lee Wulff, The "Father" of Catch and Release, about to release an Atlantic Salmon

The Willowemoc is 26.7 miles long and flows westerly through Livingston Manor to Roscoe; there it joins the Beaver Kill at the famous Junction Pool. In 1983 the museum first opened as a storefront in Roscoe before relocating to its present location. The lower section of the Willowemoc ranges from 40 to 100 feet wide, with many pools averaging between three to five feet deep. By comparison, back home on Long Island, our three gems, the Carmans, Nissequogue, and the Connetquot Rivers, would have to be deemed brooks when compared to Willowemoc Creek. Everything is relative.

Willowemoc Creek in Region 3 (Southeastern New York), Sullivan County, is stocked annually with over 18,000 brown trout, while brook trout thrive well on their own. Rainbow trout do fair to middling. The section of Willowemoc Creek, 1,200 feet above the mouth of Elm Hollow Brook to 3.5 miles downstream to the second Route 17 Quickway Bridge east of Roscoe is catch and release only, year- round, artificial lures solely.

In the Willowemoc Creek Region 3 (Southeastern New York), Sullivan County section, from Iron Bridge at Pakston, downstream, trout season opens April 1st and runs through November 30th. An angler may take 5 trout daily, which must be a minimum length of 9 inches.

Mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies appear to be the preferred ‘match-the-hatch' patterns for Willowemoc Creek. Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, Blue-winged Olives, Gray Drakes, Hendricksons, March Browns, miniature Midges (which may sound oxymoronic ~ more on midges in a moment), and Red Quills head the list in alphabetical order. Yet I can't wait till Donna and I introduce Jim to the gray nymph Gimp Fly that I tie. The fly was originated by Lacey E. Gee and highly praised by his friend Erwin D. Sias, who later wrote an article published in Outdoor Life (November 1950 issue), titled "They Go for the Gimp." It is my go-to fly for the four seasons and for one reason. The Gimp fly catches trout: brooks, rainbows and browns. Too, it is a great fly for bluegills and crappies. I have been using this deadly fly since the late sixties. The Gimp is presented in my new book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water. I tie a saltwater pattern for the suds. Pictured below are a number of trout that fell for The Gimp while fishing the Nissequogue, Carmans, and Connetquot rivers of Long Island through the years. However, I'll be sure to have on hand a good selection of the above mentioned patterns for the Willowemoc . . . just in case.

Selecting flies to cast at random can prove to be a complete waste of time, kind of like employing them alphabetically as cited above. Therefore, knowing what fly to tie to your tippet during a particular time of year will dramatically increase the odds of hooking and landing a prize. For example, specific to the Willowemoc from the middle of March to the end of May, select a Blue-winged Olive for openers. Blue Quills and Quill Gordons would be a good choice for around mid-April. Around the third week in April to mid-May, Hendricksons and Red Quills would be a good choice. Around the fourth week in April to the middle of May, Gray Drakes appear on the scene and would be a smart choice. March Browns emerge around the middle of May and well into June. Those midges, mentioned earlier, can be fished all year. And don't overlook terrestrials; that is, insects that are born and spend their ephemeral existence on land but inadvertently fall prey to hungry trout via heavy winds and torrential rains. Ants, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers patterns are a few of my favorite imitations. Moving from small patterns to bigger flies, streamers, but of course, immediately come to mind, for the thinking is that a big fly will catch a big trout. But keep in mind that midge patterns fool many big trout as well. And as for my Gimp fly, I tie them on hooks ranging from sizes 16 to 6. Most of my bigger trout, namely browns, were taken with hook sizes ranging somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

My son and I have fond memories of the Catskill area, having fished, of course, the Beaver Kill, fueled body and soul at the Roscoe Dinner, and overnighted at the Antrim Lodge. Donna and I will be fishing the Finger Lake region, with special attention initially beginning with Cayuga Lake. Lake trout and salmon are on our minds and will be most definitely on the menu, not to mention mixing it up with a bit of deer and small game hunting. Andrew Burns of Dick's Sporting Goods in Ithaca was a wealth of information, pointing us in the right direction relating to newcomers fishing and hunting the area. On the way home, Donna and I made a nostalgic stop at the Roscoe Dinner; wholesome food, as always, and plenty of it. As Donna and I love Italian food (and who doesn't?), we'll be making it a point to dine at Raimondo's Restaurant on our next trip to Roscoe, after visiting angling shops in the area.

The two fly-fishing shops that are a must visit are The Beaverkill Angler,, 52 Stewart Avenue, and Catskill Flies, 6 Stewart Avenue (right across the street, under the green awning), both in the village of Roscoe. Local angling knowledge along with a wide selection of flies and equipment are what you will uncover within these two well-stocked shops pictured below.

One of the Many Displays at The Beaverkill Angler

Catskill Flies

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

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