Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Ted Waddell | Democrat

GUEST CASTERS, FROM left to right, Ed Van Put, New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and 8-year-old Johannes Mason all try their luck on Saturday morning at Junction Pool in Roscoe. Ed’s wife, Judy Van Put, was the fourth Guest Caster of the day. In the photo at left, Ed Van Put, left, and Judy Van Put, center, take a break from trout fishing to enjoy a conversation with Dr. Allen Fried..

Junction Pool the opening day hot spot

By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE — Talk about fisherman’s luck.
The only thing folks were catching during Saturday morning’s ceremonial first cast of the 2009 New York State Trout Season at Junction Pool in Roscoe were some sniffles from the riffles as the weather and water were too cold to lure fish to the surface, despite the best efforts of a few fine anglers.
“It’s history. It’s one of the most famous pools in the United States,” Jim Krul, Executive Director of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum (CFFCM), said of Junction Pool.
“It’s where the Little Beaverkill joins the Willowemoc to become the big river, the Beaverkill, and where they caught the ‘two-headed trout,’” he added.
According to local lore, the “two-headed trout” didn’t know which way to go, whether up the Little Beaverkill or the Willowemoc. So it hung out in Junction Pool until a crafty fisherman soaked some bread in scotch, thus luring the Bea-Moc into a net and its place in history.
“If you take it from the historical times of Theodore Gordon to the present, it’s the most famous place on the Beaverkill River,” Krul said.
A while ago, the CFFCM erected a sign above Junction Pool, a sign that reads in part, “Formed by the waters of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc, it’s a pool with strange and mysterious currents and eddies. Legend says that the conflicting flows cause migrating trout to linger for days trying to decide which stream to enter. Their indecisiveness causes delay which, in itself, is the reason many of the largest trout in the Beaverkill are taken from this pool.”
First Cast 2009 featured a quartet of guest casters: New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Ed Van Put, Judy Van Put and 8-year old Johannes Mason of Coventry.
“It’s a great morning and it’s great for the economy. People come from all over to be here for the first cast,” said Gunther, who, while not an expert with a fly rod, likes to fish in a pond behind her house.
Ed Van Put started fishing at the age of 16. He now serves as the principal fish and wildlife technician for Region 3 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
In 1996, Van Put authored “The Beaverkill” and his latest book “Trout Fishing in the Catskills” was published in June 2008.
“In a couple of weeks, the weather and the stream conditions will change, and then fishing will get more serious,” he said.
Judy Van Put first picked up a fishing rod from her father’s hands as a little 4- or 5-year-old girl and got hooked on fly fishing when she met and later married Ed Van Put.
“I never looked back,” she said.
Her take on the annual rite of passage at Junction Pool?
“I love the fact that people come out on a freezing day, out of their nice, warm beds and join together here,” Judy Van Put said.
“It’s more about the people than the catching,” she added.
Junction Pool regulars Jeff and Allie Phelen of Westbrookville were back again with their fly-fishing daughters, 16-year-old Alicia and 10-year-old Erin.
The Phelen family represent five generations of fly-fishermen to make the yearly pilgrimage to celebrate the opening day of trout season, whether it’s to the Esopus River or Junction Pool.
Jeff Phelen’s great-grandfather Eugene started the tradition. He was followed up by two more Eugenes and Jeff’s father Francis, who had his picture taken along the Esopus in 1936 on opening day “with a big trout.”
Today, the photograph hangs on the Phelens’ living room wall.
A couple of years ago, Charlie Sanborn of Livingston Manor showed up for the first cast scantily dressed as “The Happy Hooker.”
This year, he left the fishnet stocking at home, and came to the first cast with his wife, Virginia.
“It’s too cold, and I finally developed some sense,” Charlie Sanborn replied when asked about his “Happy Hooker” outfit.
Johannes Mason, 8 of Coventry joined the older generation as a guest caster this year.
Asked what he likes about the sport and who he idolizes in the world of fly-fishing, the youngster replied, “Everything…[and] the Van Puts, they’re great fishermen.”
After the ceremonial first cast, a wreath was laid at the Riverview Cemetery gravesite of Dick “Pop” Robbins, one of the founders of the Brooklyn Fly Fishing Club on the Little Beaverkill.