The Birthplace of American Fly-Fishing

Before Americans became fly fishers, the Catskills provided a rich environment of rivers and streams, all brimming with life. This region of southeastern New York State has a gentle beauty in its mountains and valleys that attracts those with a deep love of nature. At the end of the 19th century, the Catskill region became a magnet for pioneering trout anglers: Theodore Gordon, “Uncle Thad” Norris, Edward R. HewittGeorge LaBranche, and a cadre of others who not only fished these rivers, but also made contributions to a distinctive, American style of fly fishing.

This procession of fishermen, fly tyers, rodmakers, entomologists, riverkeepers, and outdoor writers, through their innovations, gave rise to one of the richest traditions in fly-fishing history – a tradition that established the Catskills as the “Birthplace of American Fly Fishing”.

By the 1930’s, a new generation of Catskill anglers had come into its own – Herman Christian,Roy SteenrodReuben Cross, Hiram Leonard, Preston JenningsArt FlickWinnie and Walt DetteElsie and Harry DarbeeRay Bergman, and Sparse Gray HackleJoan and Lee Wulff, with their fly fishing school, and Poul Jorgensen and Mary Dette Clark, with their fly tying expertise, became vital members of the angling community in the 1970’s, joining the collective effort to preserve the heritage and traditions of Catskill angling.

After years of discussion, the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum was organized in 1978 with Elsie Darbee as its first president. This early organization evolved in scope as we realized we should be a dynamic entity with activities and programs and not solely a repository for artifacts and memorabilia. In 1981 we incorporated as the Catskill Fly Fishing Center, Inc.

In 1982 the board of directors bought a 35 acre, farmland site along the banks of the Willowemoc Creek in Livingston Manor, New York. The next year we opened a store-front museum on the main street of Roscoe (Trout Town, USA) to exhibit our growing collection of angling material and to tell the story of trout, their habits and the environment in which they live. By 1986 and thereafter, we enhanced the resources and facilities of our site, enabling us to consolidate activities there, establish environmental camps for children, and plan for the future.

On May 28th, 1995 we opened the doors of our award-winning, state-of-the-art museum which honors the heroes of the sport and expresses the lore and lure of fly fishing. During the inaugural ceremonies we were presented with the deed to “Junction Pool”, granting us stewardship over the cherished water where the main-stem of the Beaver Kill takes up its legendary flow. In 1998, we received additional parcels of land, increasing our size to 55.66 acres along a mile of accessible, prime, “No Kill”, trout water.

We invite you to: wet a line in Wulff Run, walk our nature trail, view the informative exhibits the museum offers, and interact with the fly tyers, rodmakers, environmentalists, and naturalists who present programs at the center.

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