By Ed Townsend
TROUT TOWN, USA April 6, 2004 If you cant beat them, join them, Erin Phelan remarked on Saturday night during the annual Two-Headed Trout Dinner hosted by the Roscoe-Rockland Chamber of Commerce and held at the Rockland House.
In making that statement, Phelan noted that her husband, Jeff, was a very active sportsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing.
If I wanted to see him, I joined him and learned how to fly fish, and now our two daughters, ages 5 and 11, also fish, and we make fly fishing a family outing, Erin added.
Jeff said he has been fishing for some 31 years while Erin started seven years ago. The Westbrookville couple make Roscoe one of their favorite fishing areas.
The Phelans were among scores of fly fishing afficionados at Saturday evenings event.
Tradition certainly continued in Roscoe (aka Trout Town USA) as the annual Two-Headed Trout Dinner hosted 150 fishing enthusiasts who enjoyed the camaraderie associated with fly-fishing.
This annual event started back in the early 1960s. It was held at the famed Antrim Lodge and hosted by Doug Bury. When the Lodge closed, the event was moved to its present location.
Roscoe-Rockland Chamber of Commerce President Miriam Stone introduced members of the local media as well as representatives of media outlets from the Hudson Valley and New Jersey and other invited guests while the Rockland House staff served up rolls, salad, salmon and their world-renowned prime rib. Co-Mistresses of Ceremonies Ellen Skarka conducted the silent auction, the 50-50 drawing and the awards of products and gift certificates donated by area merchants.
In addition, a moment of silence was held in honor of the late Paul Dahlie. Prior to his recent passing, Dahlie was the executive director of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum in Livingston Manor.
Stone noted that this event is the chambers biggest fundraiser, and she deemed it a success.
Joan Wulff of the famed Wulff School of Fly Fishing introduced guest speaker Floyd Franke. Wulff said she first met Franke when he applied to be an instructor at the school. She added that Franke had a background in education and was a gifted teacher.
Poul Jorgensen, a renowned fly-tier, was Floyds fly-tying mentor and the result of this was that Floyd has won more than 40 national and international awards in fly-tying for his skills and creativity, Wulff noted.
In her introduction of Franke, Joan said at the fishing school, Lee Wulff introduced Floyd to the techniques of playing big fish, and Floyd expanded his own knowledge through his own experiences and has produced his first book called Fish On which was published in the fall of 2003.
Franke also served five years as chairman of the Federation of Fly Fishers casting instructors certification program.
And he really gave this substance, Joan Wulff said.
She added that Franke is important in my immediate life, as my birthday gift to my grandchildren are fly tying lessons with Floyd.
Those lessons paid off recently in a local contest when her 9-year-old grandson Andrew won third place in the overall competition of 60 professional and non-professional fly tyers.
Wulff said Franke was also affecting her life by forcing her to do a casting instructors manual and that this year there will be a transition at the Wulff Fly Fishing School as Floyd starts to take over running it.
We are very lucky to have a man with such passion and talent in our fishing community, Joan Wulff concluded in her introduction.
Franke then told dinner guests that his earliest recollection of fishing took him back to when he was 7 years old and when his family had moved into a cottage along the Susquehanna River.
The smells of that river on an early summers morning still titillates my senses, as does the magnificent splendor of the deer in the woods after the first snowfall, or the soft light of a fading sunset, Franke said.
He noted that for more than 50 years he has been cataloging the sights and sounds of the outdoors and that his internal clock keeps pace with the changing seasons and the changes within the seasons.
I have lived and grown in natures womb and have come to regard all fishermen and hunters as my brothers, kindred spirits in natures ways, Franke said.
He questioned whether the sport can survive the onslaught of technology and media hype produced by those who preach its gospel.
Imagine if you can what fishing would be like if the number of fish caught, how many other fishermen say you catch it, or the cost and brand name of your equipment were the only important considerations in our sport, Franke said. Imagine if you can what fishing would be like if you never took the time to notice the beauty of a sunset or the colors of a wild brook trout; or to feel the pressure of the water against your waders, or hear the splashing rise of a trout chasing caddis flies in the shallows.
For some fishermen, these treasured experiences have little value, Franke added.
He also pointed out that most of the people coming into our sport today have little outdoor experience, and what they know about fishing is what they read in their fishing catalogues and magazines or see on television.
They are drawn into the sport by carefully orchestrated ads and market promotions and their exposure to the beauty of nature although so important to the enjoyment of our sport is limited, he said. It is therefore incumbent upon those of us who carry the vision of nature to make sure that its contribution is not lost. I ask this not only for myself, but for future generations as well.