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INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN FLY caster, author and fly fishing instructor Joan Wulff, left, talks with Peter Heller, who is an avid flyfisherman and former news operations producer for ABC’s “Good Morning America” during Saturday morning’s opening cast at Junction Pool in Roscoe. Pictured in the background is actor and flyfishing enthusiast Rip Torn.

Trout Town
Welcomes All

By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE — April 4, 2006 – Folks don’t call it “Trout Town U.S.A.” for nothing.
On Saturday, a group of avid fishermen came from near and a bit farther down the road a ways to celebrate an annual rite of passage: the opening day of New York State’s trout fishing season.
Gathering at Junction Pool, the place where the waters of the Willowemoc and Beaverkill meet to begin their journey to the Delaware River, people enjoyed a bit of breakfast served up by the Sullivan County Bed & Breakfast Association while awaiting the traditional “first cast” by Joan Wulff, who is an internationally known flycaster, author and teacher. Wulff was accompanied by guest caster actor/flyfisherman Rip Torn.
Bill Wingell, a freelance photographer from The New York Times, was on hand for a feature story about Sabrina Artell’s “Trailer Talk,” in which she invites folks into a vintage trailer to talk about what’s going on.
“It’s a fascinating phenomenon, a real tradition,” said Wingell, adding he really wished he had a rod and reel in his car’s trunk rather than a bag of camera gear.
The Phelan Family from Westbrookville are a real fishing family, and this year they were back for another visit to Junction Pool on Opening Day.
Seven-year old Allie was a photographer’s delight as she geared up to test her mettle against the wily trout.
“I’ve come here with my family every year since I was about four,” she said. Last year, Allie reeled in a 12-inch trout.
When asked what brought her out on April’s Fools Day 2006, 13-year-old Alicia Phelan replied, “The fish… a chance to go fishing with the whole family.”
Erin Phelan said, “It’s something we look forward to every year… we finally get a chance to start the season over. It’s always a good day to reconnect.”
As he watched his wife and daughters prepare to match their wits against the fish, Jeff Phelan said, “We wouldn’t miss it.”
“In our family, opening day is only second to birthdays and Christmas,” he added. “It’s a big day for us.”
After posing for a crowd of photographers, both professionals and amateurs alike, Wulff made her way back to the rocky shoreline to compare notes on the “fly of the day” with Peter Heller, former news operations producer for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Heller recently returned from Costa Rica, a spot on the globe he called “a fishing paradise.”
Heller said he started flyfishing rather late in life at the age of 50, and first met Wulff when he came to Roscoe, which is also known as “Trout Town U.S.A.,” about nine years ago.
“The fly fishing people are just great,” he said. “Even people with international prominence and fame like Joan are friendly… the people are the best part of it, everyone’s your friend, it’s community.”
Heller said he’s become fascinated by the art of fly tying.
“It’s what all the fly fishermen do during the winter while they’re waiting for the next fishing season,” he said.
Wulff said she hasn’t missed an opening day at Junction Pool in more years than she can remember.
“It’s a symbolic tradition,” she said. “We look forward to it, especially in February and March. It’s release from winter, and it brings everything back to life.”
As the fishermen tested the waters, a river otter swam back and forth in Junction Pool, perhaps wondering what all the commotion was all about or who was roiling the waters of his own favorite fishing spot.
Rip Torn, now 75, first picked up a fishing pole at the age of about 10 or 12, and recently returned from a fishing trip on the Snake River.
“Everyday you spend fishing is added to your life,” said Torn as he moved away from the sparkling, sun-dappled waters for a couple of minutes to “meet the press” and give the trout a chance to catch their collective breath.

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