Rob Potter | Democrat
Everyone who participated in the First Cast ceremony paused for a group photo on Saturday morning at Junction Pool. Pictured from left to right, are Allie Phelan, Jeff Phelan, Mark Ruffalo, Erin Phelan, Alicia Phelan, Johannes Mason, Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther and Laurence Hobgood.
Laurence Hobgood, Mark Ruffalo are ‘hooked’at traditional First Cast ceremony in Roscoe
By Rob Potter
ROSCOE The storied tradition continued at dawn on Saturday morning as dozens of people gathered for the ceremonial “First Cast” of the New York State trout fishing season at Junction Pool in Roscoe.
Celebrity guest casters Grammy winning jazz pianist Laurence Hobgood and Academy Award Best Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo joined everyone casting a line into Junction Pool, where the Little Beaverkill and Willowemoc Creek meet.
Joining Hobgood and Ruffalo were New York State Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther and the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s Phelan Family Jeff, Erin, Alicia and Allie and 10-year-old Johannes Mason of Coventry, a small town in the Binghamton area.
As several members of the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce, CFFCM and fellow fly fishers looked on, CFFCM Executive Director Jim Krul welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Then Krul and the crowd counted down from 5 to 1, which is when Hobgood, Ruffalo, Gunther, Mason and the Phelans officially cast their lines into the famed waters of Junction Pool to begin the 2011 season.
Among those who were on hand at First Cast was John Robbins, who drove to Sullivan County from his home in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Robbins, a retired professor from Winthrop University, has enjoyed fly fishing for many years. He is a member of the CFFCM and the Fly Tyers Guild. He noted that he has fly fished in the area many times before, visiting Dette’s Fly Shop in Roscoe to purchase flies.
“This is the first year I’ve been here for the First Cast ceremony,” Robbins said.
Hobgood explained that he was introduced to the sport of fly fishing by his friend Chris Thiesing, who was giving a clinic about the sport at Rockland County Community College in Suffern.
Hobgood noted he enjoys the sport for “being in the moment” with the stream in which he happens to be fishing and with nature itself.
After the First Cast ceremony, many of those who participated in the event traveled to Dette’s Fly Shop on Cottage Street. Those who made their way to the shop from Junction Pool included Sullivan County Visitors Association President/CEO Roberta Byron-Lockwood and Visitors Association Vice President of Marketing and Sales Herb Clark.
While many of the men, women and children who love the sport of fly fishing have visited Dette’s Trout Flies a business which was started by Walt and Winnie Dette in 1928 to purchase flies for their fishing trip, there was a special reason the scores of people visited the shop at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The occasion was a surprise birthday celebration for the 80-years-young Mary Dette, daughter of Walt and Winnie Dette. In a ceremony on the front porch of the fly shop, Krul helped Mary Dette unwrap a special gift a brown street sign with the words “Dette Way.”
The Dette Way sign will be placed above the Cottage Street sign to commemorate all Mary Dette and her family members have done for the hamlet of Roscoe by keeping their business open for 83 years. It is believed that the Dette’s Fly shop is the longest continually running fly shop in the United States, if not the world.
As another show of appreciation, the pool near the Roscoe-Rockland Firemen’s Park on Gulf Road will be renamed “Dette Pool.”
In addition, Gunther presented Mary Dette with a proclamation from the New York State Assembly offering congratulations on her 80th birthday.
On behalf of the entire Sullivan County Legislature, District 3 Legislator and Vice Chairman Elwin “Woody” Wood handed Dette a proclamation noting her special birthday.
Roscoe Chamber of Commerce President Elaine Fettig presented Dette with a birthday cake topped with a fly tied by Manny Zanger.
As many members of the crowd entered the shop to personally wish Mary Dette a Happy Birthday or purchase a new fly, Ruffalo was enjoying a conversation with a fellow fly fishing enthusiast. Ruffalo then took a moment to explain how he became involved with the sport just last year after taking his son to a fly fishing clinic taught by Mike Canazon at the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon.
“It’s a great sport,” Ruffalo said.
“I got hooked, no pun intended,” Ruffalo added with a smile.
Mary Dette was pleasantly surprised by the birthday celebration on her front porch.
“It was really nice to have so many people here,” she said.