By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR April 11, 2000 -- Paul N. Dahlie was recently
reeled in by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum (CFFCM) as its newly appointed executive director.
Dahlie was born in Phillips, Wisconsin a small community
of about 1,500 folks in the northern part of the state,
about 80 miles south of Lake Superior.
As a young man, he dropped out of college for a semester
to join a U.S. Forest Service fire fighting crew. The hot
shot crew, called the Mount Baker Regional Suppression
Crew, was the next group to be flown in to fight fires in
the Western states after smoke jumpers made the initial
attack. During that smoke-filled semester of 1960-61,
Dahlie took advantage of breaks from fighting fire to
fish for steelhead.
After landing a degree in biology from the University of
Wisconsin in 1963, he entered the world of banking. A
year later, he took a leave of absence from the financial
sphere and accepted a commission as a lieutenant in the
U.S. Navy. Dahlie served from 1964-67 as a line officer
aboard an attack transport.
From 1967 to 1997, Dahlie worked at various financial
institutions in the United States and overseas. After
retiring, he was talked back into the workforce to
fix a bank in Warsaw, Poland.
Dahlie was then lured out of what he called
re-retirement to accept a position as head of
the local center for fly fishing by the CFFCMs
board of directors. Members of the CFFCM executive
committee: Howard Braunstein, Dickson Despommier,
Fredrick Eck, Alan Fried, Jim Krul, Harry Rhulen, Paul T.
Shultz, Miriam Stone and Joan Wulff.
A Life on the Water
Dahlie started angling for trout when he was about six
years old, and at the age of 60 still likes to wet a
Before accepting the position at the CFFCM, Dahlie was
somewhat active with the American Museum of
Fly Fishing in Manchester, VT. He is a member of the
Anglers Club of New York.
He credits his father and grandfather, whom he referred
to as avid fly fishermen with sparking his
lifelong interest in the sport.
Taking me fishing was my fathers way out of
the house on Sundays, he recalled with a quiet
smile. Today, as a collector of fishing related books and
antique tackle, Dahlie still occasionally bends his
grandfathers 6-foot bamboo rod made by the famed
rod maker H.L. Leonard in about 1917.
Growing up in Wisconsin, walleye pike and
muskellunge were the predominant sportfish, he
said. But as the years wore on, I became more of a
While working in England, Dahlie tested his mettle
against the wiles of trout and salmon in the waters of
Wales, including the legendary Welsh Wye. Along the way,
he figures hes fished just about every running body
of water in the East. Every three years or so, Dahlie
heads out West to tackle the wilderness rivers of
Montana, such as Nelsons Spring Creek, the
Yellowstone, the Gallatin and the Jefferson.
The New Millennium
Dahlie has fished the local waters since 1982.
This is the birthplace of fly fishing, he
said. Theres a history here.
According to Dahlie, the CFFCM is in the first stage of
creating a three-part series of exhibits.
Beginning on January 1, and ending December 31, the
museum is putting together a living history exhibit
entitled Flies of the Year 2000. The museum
is inviting tiers from around the world to contribute
examples of their work in one or more of eight
categories: dry, wet, nymph, streamer, salmon, steelhead,
bass and saltwater.
So far, about 400 flies have been submitted from the
U.S., Canada, Argentina, Russia, Italy, Denmark, Sweden,
England and other places around the globe. The colorful
flies have been donated by such local luminaries as Poul
Jorgensen, as well as lots of common folk.
Flies of the Year 2000 is the brainchild of
Jim Krul, one of the CFFCMs directors. Jorgensen is
photographing each fly as it is received by the museum.
Once all the flies are collected, a book will be
published for each category showcasing all of the flies
in the exhibit.
For the Year 2001, Dahlie plans to assemble an exhibit of
fishing tackle and accessories.
Also slated for a future exhibit is a show of pins,
patches and flags from worldwide sportfishing
organizations. Future plans also include expanding the
Fly Fishing Hall of Fame.
On January 1, 2002 the flies and tackle equipment will be
placed into a time capsule, buried on the CFFCM property
and opened on January 1, 2100.
We want to capture the favorite flies and patterns
of the Year 2000 with a living exhibit of fishing
flies, said Dahlie. Imagine discovering a
trove of fishing flies made by tiers from the Year 1900;
the pattern, proportion, the materials and the
An exhibit dedicated to fly tier Art Flick is nearing
completion. It was made possible in part with funds from
the Sullivan County Decentralization Program, a regrant
program of the NYS Council on the Arts, which is
administered by the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA).
Dahlie said the center and museum has about 850 members
and attracts between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors annually.
The Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum was
incorporated in 1981. The first museum opened in Roscoe
two years later, and in 1987 the CFFCM moved to an old
farm house situated on about 50 acres along a one-mile
stretch of the Willowemoc. The state-of-the-art museum
building was completed in May 1995.
In addition to owning the famed Junction Pool, where the
Willowemoc joins the Beaverkill it was donated to
the CFFCM a few years ago the CFFCM also offers a
wide range of educational programs and special events
throughout the year including seminars, workshops, fly
tying demonstrations, new exhibit openings, film
festivals, art shows and a gift shop.
Wulff Run, a beautiful catch-and-release section of
Willowemoc Creek, flows through the centers
property, luring visitors to one of the regions
finest trout streams.
The motto of the CFFCM is Preserving the Past
Enhancing the Present
Protecting the Future.
Dahlie would like to see more educational opportunities
offered to the public at the museum, as well as
eventually creating a cold water resources research
center, possibly in cooperation with Trout Unlimited, the
National Wildlife Federation and/or the NYS Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Dahlie replaces former museum director Lisa Lyons and
CFFCMs artistic director Kathy Bryant, who resigned
on September 31, 1999.
I would like to see the Catskill Fly Fishing Center
& Museum become the living history museum of American
fly fishing, said Dahlie.
For information about the CFFCM, call 439-4810; FAX
439-3387; e-mail c/o email@example.com; or their
website address is www.cffcm.org.