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Delicate Work

Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

LEGENDARY FLY TYER Poul Jorgensen concentrates as he creates a new fly at last Saturday’s fly fishing summerfest and flea market at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum in Livingston Manor.

An Ancient Art

By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR — September 3, 2004 – The Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum reeled ’em in last Saturday during the annual fly fishing summerfest and flea market.
Scores of fly fishing aficionados attended the event.
The legendary Joan Wolfe showed up as Poul Jorgensen held court signing copies of his books and demonstrating the unique art of fly tying.
Inside the museum, under the watchful eye of a bronze statue of the immortal fly fisherman and tyer Lee Wolfe, guest fly tyer John Roetman kept folks on the edge of their seats as he made it look easy.
Back on the grassy field warmed by a blistering sun, professional fishing guide Rick Miller of Roscoe, who noted that he has “been in the game 40-some years,” talked about his two fly fishing theories. Each theory follows the “rule of three” concept.
“Fly fishing is more of a mental situation than anything else,” he said of the first theory. “It allows you to do three things… you actually become [like] god because you must make the prefect cast with the fly to be able to take a fish because they won’t come forwards unless it’s delivered to them.
“You pick the fly to ‘try to match the hatch’… if you’re fishing with a ring-tailed fuzzwart, and they’re all taking light cahills, you’re chances of taking anything but the stream idiot are completely out of luck.”
And number three, according to Miller, is the last part – the cast.
“As you’re reeling it in, because it’s just a fly within the fish’s lips, you get to decide whether it lives or dies,” he said.
“As much as humanly possibly, we practice catch and release because as the great Lee Wulff said, ‘the sport is in catching, not the killing,’” added Miller. “If you release the fish, you might have a chance to catch that same fish over and over again yourself, or give that pleasure to someone else.”
Miller’s other “rule of three” theory deals specifically with the fly fisher.
“There are three stages of a fly fisher’s life,” he said.
At first, freshly hatched fly fishermen try to limit out by catching as many fish as possible to get bragging rights about a full creel.
In the second stage, they aren’t interested in numbers but catching the biggest fish possible. Their motto is “I only catch the big ones.”
“If you’re extremely lucky, you pass through that stage and get to the final one, and that’s taking the most difficult fish possible with all the pluses toward the fish and all the handicaps toward yourself,” Miller said of the idea of using light tackle.
“To be able to say my skill level made it possible to do what it seemed impossible to do,” he added.
Miller has been running a fly fishing guide service covering the Catskills for 23 years. (For more information about his guide service, please call 439-5050.)
His most memorable catch occurred at 10 a.m. on April 4, 1999 in Beaverkill’s Craig-E-Clare Pool when Miller landed, and after a bit of reflection, released a 31-inch, 11 lb. brown trout off a Quill Gordan dry fly.
“I’m so proud of that fish,” he recalled.
Asked about the alure of the sport, Miller replied, “You can be alone or you can be with an entire crew.”
Connie VanValkenburg of Liberty watched in fascination as Jorgensen tied a fly during a break from spinning fishing yarns and signing copies of his books.
“It’s a beautiful art and a way to be with nature, and I’m learning from the master,” she said.
As Joan Wulff made the rounds of the flea market, she donated a batch of Garcia rods found in her basement to supporting the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum.
“It’s a great gamut – everything from thousand-dollar rods to 75-cent boxes for your flies,” said Wulff of the eclectic offerings on display.
Ted Robowski of Lew Beach married Joan Wulff years after his fly fishing mentor, Lee Wulff, passed away.
“We have one of the finest resources right here on the Upper Delaware River,” he said of the local cold water fishery.
“It’s being neglected by the City of New York,” Robowski added. “It takes the water for their own drinking water… with the reservoirs full this year, there should have been timed releases.”
Why has he roamed the globe for the past 60 years in search of the perfect fish?
“Being out of doors in the most beautiful places in the world, and the companionship of other anglers and other fine people,” Robowski said.

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