By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE April 3, 2007 It was 7 a.m. and as the mist started rising off Junction Pool, the fish began taking a few nibbles.
No fools are these denizens of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc as on Sunday, April 1, the traditional opening day of New York State trout fishing season, folks gathered from near and far to be part of the “First Cast” where the waters of these two fabled fly fishing streams converge at Junction Pool in Roscoe.
Opening Day 2007 wasn’t without a sense of artistic expression, as Charles and Virginia Sanborn of Livingston Manor showed up dressed, respectively as a “hooker” and a damsel fly.
Charles Sanborn combined his wife’s high school prom dress with a large silver-colored hook featured as part of his 2006 Livingston Manor Trout Parade costume he was “The Fly” on a unicycle being pursued by Bud Wertheim’s giant articulated trout while Virginia Sanborn appeared as a damsel fly.
“[A damsel fly] in the nymph stage because I don’t have my wings yet,” Virginia said.
A quartet of notables in the world of fly fishing were slated to be the early morning’s “guest casters”, but the legendary fly fishing instructor Joan Wulff was sidelined down in Florida.
However, Donald Trump Jr. and Ed and Judy Van Put were at Junction Pool to make the ceremonial first cast.
Ed Van Put of Livingston Manor has been pitting his talent against wily trout for some 55 years.
Asked why, he replied, “It’s the camaraderie, the solitude, the excitement… it’s the most sporting way to catch fish.”
Judy Van Put took up fly fishing as a 21-year-old when she met her husband. But she started fishing at the age of 4 or 5 “with my father when were living in Sundown and Grahamsville.”
“Opening Day is special because you have to get up and be out early,” she said. “Fly fishing is a pure form of the sport, it’s beautiful and graceful.
“I feel it’s the highest form of connecting with fish and being in the outdoors,” she added.
How many times has she been part of the annual rite of passage at Junction Pool?
“Many, many times,” Judy Van Put replied.
Donald Trump Jr. yes, the son of “The Donald” took a day off from the “chaos of New York City, real estate development and ‘The Apprentice’” to be part of the event marking the beginning of the state’s trout fishing season.
“It’s my golf,” he said of the sport of fly fishing, referring to the elder Trump’s passion for knocking a little white ball around the links.
As an eighth-grader at The Hill School, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, Trump Jr. picked up a few tricks of the trade from a fly fishing teacher. The rest was history as in subsequent years, he fished fresh water and salt water all across the United States including the wilds of Alaska. He has also traveled to the likes of Mexico, Australia, Africa and “a little bit of Europe” in search of the ultimate fish.
“Fly fishing gives me a chance to get away from work,” said Trump, who is a member of the Board of Directors at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum (CFFCM) in Livingston Manor.
Michael C. Simon, a noted artist of “sub-aqueous scenes and salmonids” drove up for Opening Day from his home in Midlothian, Virginia, just outside Richmond.
“As a youngster growing up in New Jersey, I got an urge and talked my folks into taking me fishing,” he recalled.
“Then one day about 50 years ago, I was drowning worms, and I saw a fly fisherman it was all so graceful,” Simon said of getting hooked on fly fishing.
“For me, it’s almost like going to church,” he added.
So what was Simon’s take on Opening Day 2007?
“It’s great, but I wish my hands were a little warmer,” he said.