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Ted Waddell | Democrat

JUDY VAN PUT, who co-hosted Saturday's ceremonial First Cast at Junction Pool, stands in the water while speaking to some fishermen.

The fishin's fine in Trout Town, USA

By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE — April 8, 2008 — With the water temperature hovering at a chilly 35 degrees early Saturday morning at famed Junction Pool where the Willowemoc joins the Beaverkill, most of the trout took the day off.
But that didn’t stop scores of flyfishers from showing up for the traditional ceremonial First Cast, an annual rite of spring welcoming back the sport to the state after a long, cold winter.
“It opens up a new season in the Catskills,” said Jim Krul, Executive Director of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum (CFFCM) in Livingston Manor. “This is our Happy New Year when all the fly fishermen get together after the winter. It’s tradition.”
Gary Camborski, an 8-year-old from Greenlawn caught the first fish of the morning, but according to his mother Debora, he tossed it back just before anyone snapped a picture.
Jinnes Mason, a 7-year-old from Coventry, caught a 15-inch trout to kick off the 2007 First Cast. But young Mason wasn’t so lucky this season, as along with most other fisherman at Junction Pool, he came up troutless.
The annual event was hosted by Ed and Judy Van Put of Livingston Manor. They were joined in the ceremonial First Cast by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis and Olek Krupa, a native of Poland who is a television and film actor.
“One of my responsibilities is to watch out for these great resources in the state, with the professionals that work in my department like Ed Van Put and a whole bunch of other people who are really the front line, in our efforts to make sure these streams are clear and clean, fishable and enticing for people to come here from all over the world,” Grannis said.
The commissioner said that Ed Van Put, DEC’s Region 3 principal fish and wildlife technician, was instrumental in the agency acquiring approximately 53 miles of public fishing access rights and about public fishing access points.
“Most of the great fishing opportunities in the Catskills are a result of Ed’s work negotiating with landowners up and down the rivers,” Grannis commented. “It’s a phenomenal accomplishment.”
Ed Van Put said he started fly fishing some 55 years ago, and in a reversal of traditional roles, taught his father to fish, and then he was off to Alaska and Newfoundland.
His take on all the fishing rights acquisitions?
“We’ve got miles to go,” Ed Van Put replied.
After the First Cast yielded nary a trout, most of the folks spent an hour talking about the sport of fly fishing. Among them were Dr. Carl Braun, a neurologist from Farwood, and his son Dr. Eric Braun, an ophthalmologist from Katonah, who chatted with Judy Van Put along the rocky shoreline of Junction Pool.
“I’ve been fishing since the time I was a little girl,” Judy Van Put said. “I remember my dad taking me fishing, and I couldn’t waiting for opening day. We got up very early in the morning.”
Judy Van Put recalled that she first picked up a fly rod at the age of 21.
“And then I met the man who was to become my husband,” she said of Ed.
“I absolutely love it,” added Judy Van Put, who is a native of Sundown. “We love the local streams and the tributaries, the Catskill fresh water fishing.”
Afterwards, a lot of the fly fishermen converged at the CFFCM for a demonstration of the art of fly tying by Ted Patlen of Lodi, N.J.
To top off the morning, folks lined up to sample a trio of homemade soups (including split pea, vegetarian beef barley and carrot) made by 92-year-old Agnes Van Put, who is Ed Van Put’s mother.

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