Over the first weekend of August, the place to be was at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum, situated along the banks of the Willowemoc at 1031 Old Route 17, Livingston Manor, which hosted …
Over the first weekend of August, the place to be was at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum, situated along the banks of the Willowemoc at 1031 Old Route 17, Livingston Manor, which hosted its annual Summerfest celebration. Beginning bright and early (shortly after sunrise) fly-fishing enthusiasts crossed the iron bridge to set up their tarps and tables under the pavilion and on the big field bordering the pond. Despite the weather forecast’s threats of possible thunderstorms, the sizeable crowd grew as the morning drew on, beginning at 9 am. Twenty vendor stations were on hand, offering everything that could be desired by those who love to fish – or who would love to try. From books to hooks, rods and reels, antiques, collectible tackle and fly-tying materials, waders, T-shirts and more, visitors wandered from table to table, sometimes sitting in a vacant chair to chat and just enjoy spending time with other fishing enthusiasts, seeing friends old and new.
In the walkway between the vendor tables and tents, men and women were trying out rods, reels and lines, in addition to casting demonstrations that were ongoing; others were practicing their skills in preparation for the annual Hardy Cup Bamboo Casting Competition (in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Hardy) which was ongoing all weekend.
The Hardy Cup was open to everyone who wished to participate, and is a fun event with no separate divisions for age, sex, etc. Entrants must use a bamboo fly rod of up to and including 8 feet in length, with a fly line no heavier than 5-weight and a leader from 7 ½ to 9 feet in length. Hookless flies (a tuft of yarn) were attached to each contestant’s leader by one of the judges and were used for scoring in both Distance and Accuracy. Cumulative points were awarded for two distance casts, with one point awarded for each foot of the cast from the designated starting point to the final resting point of the fly within the course boundaries. Additional points were accrued in the Accuracy target rings, with one cast at each of the two target rings set at 25 and 40 feet; placing the fly in a ring earned an additional 50 points.
In addition, the CFFC offered free entry to the museum on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 – 4 pm, with hosts Dave Catizone, Tom Mason and John Shaner on hand for the new Heritage exhibit, along with the Guest Fly Tyer Mike Stewart in the museum.
Livingston Manor Central School staff and students provided hotdogs and hamburgers, drinks and snacks for lunch on both days, and Saturday afternoon’s visitors were treated to live Honky Tonk music with Connie Mack and Steam.
By 1 pm, the crowd had swelled, and the group reassembled at the Wulff Pavilion up on the hill, to celebrate Agnes Van Put’s 106th birthday. Agnes was resplendent in a lovely white suit and was happy to cut and serve the delicious birthday cake, which was baked locally at Peck’s market and beautifully decorated with a scene depicting a deep blue pond lined with (edible) stones and trees and a large fish leaping out of the water! Agnes has been the hostess at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center Gift Shop for many years and is known for her sunny personality as well as her delicious homemade soups and cookies, which she brings to the CFFC each year on its Opening Day celebration.
Sunday’s events began at 9 am, again with vendors and free Museum entry all day featuring a Kids’ Fly-Tying event and a “meet the artist” with Kevin Storms.
The winners of the Hardy Cup were as follows:
1st Prize, a Hardy Rod and Reel outfit, awarded to Masaki Takemoto of Japan, an exquisite Bamboo rod maker and major supporter of the CFFC&M. Masaki earned a casting score of 198 feet, the combined distance of two casts. He also scored a perfect 100 in the accuracy event for a total winning score of 298 points.
2nd Prize, a Hardy Reel, was awarded to Mike McFarland; and 3rd Prize, a Hardy Rod, awarded to Derek Eberly.
The annual Summerfest & Hardy Cup Casting Competition program event helps to fund the ongoing angling education programs for both children and adults; the mission of the CFFC&M is to preserve the heritage of fly fishing in the Catskills and to educate future generations.
The CFFC&M is looking for new members, and invites everyone to cross the bridge, sign up for an educational program or walk their Nature trails. For additional invitation, please visit www.cffcm.com or call 845-439-4810.
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