Trout fishers are being seen in increasing numbers on both the Willowemoc and Beaverkill, where water temperatures have been flirting around 50 degrees (up to 57 last Thursday), and flies are …
Trout fishers are being seen in increasing numbers on both the Willowemoc and Beaverkill, where water temperatures have been flirting around 50 degrees (up to 57 last Thursday), and flies are starting to hatch. Blossoms are forming on the apple, pear and plum trees and wild violets and daffodils have been brightening up the landscape with their cheery colorful blooms, which coincide with the much-anticipated Hendrickson hatch.
This coming Saturday, May 14, the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Two Headed Trout dinner, featuring Richard J. Schager, Jr., ardent conservationist and avid Beaverkill flyfisherman, and former president of Theodore Gordon FlyFishers and the Anglers Club of New York. Richard will be introduced by Joan Wulff, celebrated for her lifetime devoted to fly casting, running the Lee & Joan Wulff School of Fly Fishing, and recipient of the 2021 Two Headed Trout Dinner’s Lifetime Achievement award.
Originally called the “Two Headed Trout and Other Fantastic Fish Stories Round Table,” the dinner was first held at the Antrim Lodge on March 31, the night before the Opening Day of the trout fishing season in New York. Red Smith, the legendary outdoor writer of the New York Times, created the colorful moniker and initiated its annual dinner back in the 1940s, which was held to bring the outdoor writers of the day together with well-known trout fishermen in order to glean a clever story for their fishing columns. The dinner was held for many decades at the Antrim on March 31 until the Antrim closed its doors. Now hosted by the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce, the date of the dinner varies, and this year’s venue will be the Rockland House; members of the general public are invited to attend.
But trout fishermen had made their way to the Beaverkill even 100 years before Red Smith initiated those dinners, and by the 1890s the O.&W. railroad made inroads to the popular fishing destination and constructed a new railroad station at Roscoe in 1895. When the station was completed, a long-time Beaverkill angler, J.S. Underhill, a wealthy builder of ferry boats from Brooklyn, gifted the railroad with a magnificent weathervane that was placed atop the station, and featured a handsome copper figure of a trout, which greeted the thousands of anglers who traveled from near and far to fish the famous river. Several generations of passengers and anglers enjoyed this wonderful gift, which served to inform them of which direction the wind was blowing, perhaps influencing their decision whether to fish with dry flies upstream or wet flies downstream.
The trout weathervane held its lofty position for 62 years, becoming a symbol of the golden era of outstanding fishing on the Beaverkill. But in 1957, after the railroad ceased to operate but before the station was demolished, the great trout weathervane disappeared! A story was written in the Hancock Herald on July 24, 1958 by outdoor columnist, Frank Trinkner, who revealed that he contacted the State Police at Roscoe for information and was told that they had heard rumors that it was missing, but no one had made an official complaint. Trinkner then called Doug Bury, the proprietor of the Antrim Lodge, located just a short distance away, and was told that Doug not only knew of the missing trout but had contemplated swiping it himself! He revealed that a long-time customer of his from Connecticut had called and “bluntly suggested that Doug steal it for him...” Doug “was weighing the best means of doing just this when some other miscreant stole it right out from under his nose.” Doug suspected that he knew who the thief might be, and that after the “hot trout” had “cooled off a bit” it might reappear in the environs of Roscoe.
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