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This Is a Fish Story

Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

MANNY ZANGER, LEFT, the president of the Beamoc Chapter of Trout Unlimited, tries to convince legendary fly fisherman/author/fly tyer Poul Jorgensen that he almost landed a record trout.

And There's Something
Very Fishy About It!

By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE — April 4, 2003 – The opening day of the 2003 New York State trout season at famed Junction Pool read like a classic who dunnit.
On April 1, a cast of characters including a list of the famous and not- so-well known, braved sub-freezing weather to join a crowd of about 75 hardy souls for the traditional 7 a.m. “first cast” into the glittering, mist- shrouded waters where the Beaverkill River meets Willowemoc Creek at the famed Junction Pool in Roscoe.
This season’s guest caster, Tom Valenti, a celebrated New York City chef, rubbed elbows with the legendary fly fisherman/author/fly tyer Poul Jorgensen.
Captain “Victor Charles” Albano, Jr. showed up with a short spinning rod and had high hopes of making it back to the sports section of the New York Times.
A little four-year-old girl named Allie had trouble keeping her knit cap out of her eyes as she tried to land a wily trout under the watchful eye of her father.
Maciek Gorecki, a freelance photojournalist from the Bronx, was taking pics like crazy with plans of putting them up on a fly fishing website back in his native Poland.
On the snow-covered stones along the edge of the frigid water, Manny Zanger, president of the Beamoc Chaper of Trout Unlimited, swapped fishing yarns with Jorgensen about the big one that got away.
As the mystery of who would catch the first finned denizen of Junction Pool unfolded, it turned out to be a winsome lady from Oakland, NJ who said that singing to the fish helped her land four beautiful brown trout during the first couple of hours of the 2003 trout season.
“Fishing is what brings me out here,” said Lisa Mastroeni as she held up a string of trout. “It’s great sport.”
Her boyfriend Bruce DeBries taught her the sport. But it looked liked Mastroeni learned it a bit too well, as she easily bested his solo trout. Her smallest catch had several inches on his fish in the length department.
Taking a break from popping snaps for his Polish flyfishing website, Gorecki said, “I’m just a fly fishing guy who likes to travel . . . I’m crazy about fly fishing.”
This is the second year Jeff and Erin Phelan of Westbrookville havetaken the whole family out to Junction Pool on the opening day of trout season in New York State.
Joining the fly fishing couple were their daughters: four-year-old Allie and 10-year-old Alicia.
Jeff Phalen took time out from trying to land a trophy trout to show Allie some of the finer points of fly fishing. He noted that it’s a good idea to pull your hat back so you can see the river and it’s not such a great idea to snag a bush.
Even though the littlest fisherman of the morning didn’t land the big one, she seemed to have a great time.
Jorgensen, who lives in Roscoe, started fly fishing when he came to the United States in 1955. After reading a few fly fishing magazines, he was hooked and went out to buy his first rod. And the rest is history.
Jorgensen, who turned 77 years old “a couple of days ago” is just about as well known for his barbed wit as he is for tying world-class flies and authoring books about the sport.
“I got up a little early this morning to see just how cold it was,” he said. “I decided to leave the short sleeves at home.”
As he recalled a first cast about a decade ago in which he had to wade through a foot of snow, Jorgensen said it was in the 50s just the day before this year’s opener.
“It’s like homecoming,” he added. “You get to see old friends you haven’t seen all winter, and you meet some new ones. They come out of hibernation.”
“It’s a wonderful tradition . . . I wouldn’t miss it,” said Jorgensen.
Albano, Jr. hails from the Bronx. He moved to Roscoe about 20 years ago.
“I always make the New York Times,” he said. “Last year, I put on a show and a half.
“There are some real beautiful trout down here, and I like the peace and quiet.”
Chef Valenti took a few hours off from his Manhattan restaurant Quest to wet a line as this year’s celebrity caster.
Asked what lured him into the realm of fly fishing in the Catskills, Valenti replied, “This is the ying to my Manhattan yang.”
“I’ve always had a real affection for the river system,” he said. “The meditative qualities of the sport speak for themselves.”
“To me, fly fishing is a long tradition, and it’s kind of cool,” Valenti added.

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