Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
June 21, 2013 Issue
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Eli Ruiz | Democrat

Donald Trump Jr. and Joan Wulff enjoy their first casts Saturday on the Willowemoc.

Trout and about

Story by Eli Ruiz
ROSCOE/LIVINGSTON MANOR — April 9, 2013 — Saturday’s blustery weather did nothing to keep fly fishing enthusiasts indoors for the season’s official “first casts” in both Trout Town USA (aka Roscoe), and at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum (CFFCM) in Livingston Manor.
Vehicles lined the roadway leading to famed Junction Pool as fishermen waited in the cold to watch New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Chief of Fisheries Phil Hulbert toss out the ceremonial “first cast,” officially kicking off the season in this angling mecca. “It’s so cold the flies and water bugs called in this morning,” said Hulbert in jest.
A veritable fixture on the flyfishing scene, young Johannes Nightingale, 12, was equally frustrated by the cold weather, offering, “Same thing over here – every time I cast, my line freezes and snaps.”
Cold indeed as Sahadeo Katwaroo of New York City, who said he arrived at Junction Pool by 5 a.m., was contemplating calling it quits just an hour later. “Every time I cast, the darn line freezes to a rock or something,” he complained.
Little more than an hour later, a crowd descended on the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum to observe their annual first cast. CFFCM was established in 1983 as a storefront museum in Roscoe for the express purpose of preserving America’s fly fishing heritage, teaching future generations of anglers and protecting its fly fishing environment.
In May of 1995, the center made the move to its current location on the banks of the Willowemoc Creek in Livingston Manor.
Traditionally, CFFCM recruits a celebrity or two to punctuate the ceremonial “first cast,” and Saturday’s event was no different as Donald Trump Jr. of “The Apprentice” fame, and Sally Jesse Rafael of the once long-running Sally Jesse Rafael daytime talk show were on hand to participate in the ceremony.
As always, fly fishing icon Joan Wulff was in attendance for the event, as was the so-called “First Family of Fly Fishing – the Phelan family led by Jeff Phelan. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther also made the trip into the Manor bringing with her a resolution signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, officially branding the Month of April “Fly Fishing Month” in New York State.
“I have to say, this is definitely one of my favorite places in Sullivan County to be,” offered Gunther. “The natural beauty here is just unparalleled. I look forward to this every year,” she added.
Likewise, Rafael offered, "This is one of my favorite places to be, period. I find myself so drawn to this area and its beauty. Love it."
Trump – who owns a cabin in East Branch and was visiting with wife Vanessa – is a regular on the local fly fishing scene and was making his second official appearance at the first cast event. “We’re here every weekend and whenever we have free time, we’re actually always around,” said Trump. “I’m almost always up here on or around April 1 for opening day.” Trump says he picked up fly fishing at his old boarding school in the eighth grade. “There was a teacher there that was a big fly fisherman and he kind of took me under his wing and taught me the very basics of the cast and from there I was on my own,” said Trump.
Also something of an expert at tying flies, Trump offered, “There’s just something about catching a fish on your own fly that just enhances the experience. With tying it’s like you can be fishing without fishing. I just love it, and in the off-season, tying basically makes the season year-round for me.”
After the “first cast” ceremony, anglers found some respite from the wind and cold with 96-year old Agnes Van Put’s incredible array of homemade soups. “I think they like them,” said Van Put as a massive line of folks queued up for seconds of the delicious split pea, beef barley, and chicken ball soups.
Some, like Rick Miller of Roscoe, though, decided to brave the cold and wind and fish instead of going for soup. He offered, “You know, I’m out here, but my dogs wouldn’t even go out because it was so cold this morning. We live here, though. We’re tough. We’re Roscovians.”
Donald Trump Jr. and Joan Wulff enjoy their first casts Saturday on the Willowemoc.

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