Gone fishin': Anglers celebrate on a freezing opening day

Above: Boys Fishing, by Amanda Lee Popp. Submitted to the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. 

April Fool’s day is the first day of fishing season in New York state, and it's playing a freezing cold joke on hopeful anglers vying to catch the first trout of the year.

It's a cold and icy beginning to trout season, with a high of only 38 degrees and snow falling over Cairns Pool on the Beaverkill, according to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s Facebook page. Nevertheless, trout were reportedly caught there today, the center reports.

Above: The ice-covered Upper Delaware River on Monday, March 30. Photo by Tony Ritter, via Twitter. 

At Junction Pool in the Sullivan County village of Roscoe, the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce promised to be onhand at 8 a.m. to serve hot coffee to shivering fishermen. 

“It's going to be a late season since many of rivers still have ice,” said Tony Ritter, of Gone Fishing Guide Service in Narrowsburg, in an email to the Watershed Post earlier this week.

Above: Fishing Guide Tony Ritter with a rainbow trout that fell for a Snowshoe Rusty spinner near Cochecton in a past season. Photo courtesy of Tony Ritter. 

The main stem of the Upper Delaware River in Delaware County and the Big Eddy in Narrowsburg were both fully ice-covered earlier this week, Ritter reported, but he predicts that the ice will begin to melt by this weekend. Usually, he said, the Big Eddy is free of ice by mid-March.

“Everything will be about two weeks late this year,” Ritter said. “Aquatic insects and trout do not really get active until the water temperatures consistently reach in the upper 40s to 50 and stay there. We have a ways to go. Water temps right now are at 32 to 33 degrees.”

That means it’s all well and good that Sullivan County’s marquee trout event, the ceremonial “first cast,” is happening a week later than usual this year, on Saturday, April 11. (An early Easter pushed it back.) Charles Degliomini, a bigwig at Empire Resorts, which is building a resort casino in Monticello, is the celebrity “first caster” at Junction Pool at 7:45 a.m. 

Luckily for anglers, there are many ways to celebrate the beginning of fishing season that don’t involve standing knee-deep amongst icebergs and falling snow.

Above: The rededication of the Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection at the Phoenicia Library. Beth Waterman, the co-chair of the collection, officiated over the ceremony. She was joined by Doris Bartlett, Jerry Bartlett’s widow (seated in blue sweater) and Cal Smith (right).  Photo by Mark Loete. 

On Saturday, March 28, trout fishing legends from Ulster County’s Esopus Creek gathered at the Phoenicia Library for the rededication of the Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection, which occupies a place of honor in the library’s newly-restored Main Street space.

The Ashokan-Pepacton Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsored the event, which featured angling legends like Cal Smith, the son of legendary Catskills guide Ray Smith, and the widow of Jerry Bartlett, who was a renowned fly-tier.

Smith regaled the crowd with the story of how the “Mother’s Pool,” an acclaimed fishing spot near the village of Phoenicia on the Esopus, came to be named after his mother.

To celebrate opening day of fishing season, the Roscoe NY Beer Co., based in Roscoe, is launching two new trout-themed beers this month: “Trout Town” Rainbow Red Ale, an “India style red ale” and “Trout Town” Brown Ale.

Left: Roscoe NY Beer Co.'s new Rainbow Red Ale. 

“We’re excited about these two new beers and to further round-out our beer menu,” Josh Hughes, Roscoe Beer Co.’s brewmaster, said in a press release. “These new beers are just a small taste of what’s to come as we continue to expand our distinctive selection of hand crafted beer.”