Opening Day 2005
Opening Day 2005 began with a chill in the air on Friday, April 1st, but that didn’t stop a crowd of more than 100 people from gathering at Junction Pool. As tradition, area bed & breakfast owners served a light buffet to those hardy anglers and the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce provided welcome cups of hot coffee. By 7:00 a.m., celebrity first casters James Prosek and Tom Colicchio were readying their gear and the first cast was made around 7:15 a.m. By 8:00 a.m. a few trout had been hooked and folks started moving off to other fishing areas.
At 10:00 a.m. the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum opened its doors on another fishing season. Many anglers took advantage of the warm day and blue skies to stop by CFFCM to view our new exhibits and to have a book signed by James Prosek. But the true draw of the day was Agnes Van Put and her homemade soup – as much a tradition of Opening Day as first cast at Junction Pool! This year Agnes delighted the crowd with three varieties – carrot/ginger, split pea, and beef barley – and visitors kept coming back for more until the last drop was gone. The afternoon featured Floyd Franke at the tying desks where he shared tips on fly tying. Friday was a long day but only marked the start of Opening Day weekend as Saturday would be an equally important event for the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum – its tribute to Poul Jorgensen.
Unlike Friday, Saturday’s weather was conducive to indoor activities as the day began with a drizzle that eventually turned into a downpour. But weather could not stop Poul’s friends and family from turning out to bid him farewell. By 11:00 a.m. it was standing-room-only in the museum with an estimated crowd of 125 people gathered to view Jimmy Ienner, Jr.’s documentary tribute that captured the essence of Poul’s spirit. After the video, guests were invited to share memories of Poul and then release a feather in his honor. Although it was a somber occasion, laughter would fill the gallery as people reminisced about Poul and wrote in the memory book on display near his exhibit area.
The rains continued all day long on Saturday and by afternoon the rivers began to rise. The threat of flood was rumored by early afternoon but there was still another event for CFFCM to host – a wedding! Last year, Louis Olvitt proposed to Mary Margotta [both of Sparta, Wisconsin] on the museum’s bridge. So when it came time for the wedding, their original plan was to get married in waders in the Willowemoc under the bridge. But April waters are just a bit colder than summertime and it was decided to hold the wedding at 4:00 p.m. on the bridge after the museum had closed for the day. But the rain only continued and Mary and Lou came inside the museum to be married under the watchful gaze of Lee Wulff’s statue. They did not stay long following the ceremony as the predicted flooding was now underway the water was inching over the banks of the Willowemoc onto Old Route 17.
Another tradition of Opening Day weekend is the annual “Two-Headed Trout Dinner” but with the waters rising around the museum and throughout Sullivan County, many, including your museum director, could not get through closed roads to Roscoe. Although the Willowemoc did not rise above the CFFCM bridge deck, it did flood the “ramp” on and off the bridge, as well as the lower fields, transforming the pond into a lake to the delight of the resident geese and ducks.
But on Sunday the waters began to recede as quickly as they had risen and folks began to venture out to assess the damage. Here at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum the impact was limited to road erosion and the deposit of sand throughout the fields but our neighbors across Old Route 17 were not so fortunate and several homes have been razed in the aftermath of this recent flood. For those of you coming to fish this year, the landscape has changed along the rivers and it will be a challenge to learn how to work the reshaped pools but by all accounts the fish are still here and hatches are occurring on both the Beaverkill and Willowemoc. So we welcome you in the coming weeks to the Catskills and look forward to seeing you at the museum.
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