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Good fishing and Catskill Legends

Judy Van Put
Posted 5/23/23

Our rivers and streams are low for this time of year, as often happens in May when we haven’t had much rain; and the trees leafing out are a major draw on the water table. On Sunday afternoon, …

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Good fishing and Catskill Legends


Our rivers and streams are low for this time of year, as often happens in May when we haven’t had much rain; and the trees leafing out are a major draw on the water table. On Sunday afternoon, the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at 267 cubic feet per second, which is less than half the median average flow of 539 cfs over 109 years of record-keeping! Fortunately, the cooler mornings and evenings have kept temperatures at a favorable range of between 48 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit this past week. 

“Catskill John” Bonasera reported a productive afternoon’s fishing while driving home recently, after noticing some spinners bobbing up and down on the road by a bridge crossing. He stopped his car and went down to the water to investigate – and found “sections of the stream that held big numbers of spinners, some with eggs but most just doing their dance.” 

Using an Atherton gold bodied Variant size #14 he had tied earlier in the day, with dun and grizzly mixed oversized hackle and tail, he hooked and landed a nice brown trout. 

No other fish were rising, so John decided to fish below the surface and switched to Atherton’s No. 2 nymph, with which he caught two more brown trout, lost one, landed another and then lost a nice-sized rainbow trout in a small log jam. Two of the four trout he caught were stocked and measured 14 and 16 inches; the two wild fish were a nine-inch rainbow and an 11-inch brown. 

He believes that the rainbow trout that got stuck in the log jam was about 17+ inches in length. John noted that “the fish were bashful” and that he covered the area thoroughly, and all but the first one were either under a branch along the bank, in a tangle of wood or in deep sections of the pool with large rocks breaking up the flow.

This coming Saturday the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum celebrates the 2023 Annual Dinner Banquet at the Rockland House, made special by honoring the newest of its Catskill legends: Dave Catizone, Bruce Concors and Tom Mason.  

Dave Catizone moved to Livingston Manor in the early 1970s after meeting Poul Jorgensen at a United Fly Tyers event in Massachusetts, where the two became fast friends. Poul encouraged him to move to the Catskills and introduced Dave to all the great fly tyers of the day; he studied their patterns and became expert at identifying, cataloguing and appraising their work, in addition to becoming an exquisite fly-tyer of both trout and salmon flies. 

Today he is a member of the CFFC&M “Dream Team” of volunteer archivists preparing online databases to showcase all the items that the CFFC & Museum has acquired for its permanent collection over the past several decades, and attends the Saturday fly-tying sessions, where he passes along helpful information on fly-tying techniques and materials.

Bruce Concors has been fly-fishing since the age of eight, growing up in Walden, NY, and has spent years studying the rivers, tying flies and guiding on Delaware River float trips. 

From his years spent studying insect life and tying flies to emulate them, he later developed patterns for several major commercial fly firms. Bruce has sponsored many fishing groups. In addition, he is a passionate supporter and fundraiser for the CFFC; and along with his friend, the late Dave Brandt, produced the beautiful Catskills documentary, Land of Little Rivers.  

Tom Mason and his wife Martha relocated from Massachusetts in 1991 to New York State to further his passion of fishing the Beaverkill. An avid collector of rods, reels and books, Tom is also an outstanding fly tyer, and has an extensive collection of rare fly-tying materials. 

He is a founding member and past president of the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild, where he helped organized numerous events such as the Fly Tyers Rendezvous, Fly Fest and Fly Tyers Roundtable. Tom volunteers and is a “fixture” at the CFFC&M, and has spent several years with the “Dream Team” of volunteer archivists preparing online databases for the CFFC&M. 

For tickets and additional information on the dinner, please visit https://cffcm.com/eventscalendar/2023-annual-dinner


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