The fourth State of New York Trout Unlimited (TU) Fish Camp was held from July 17 through July 22. Fourteen teenagers, 11 boys and three girls, were in attendance. At each of these camps a number of TU men and women have been privileged to instruct these youngsters on the arts and mysteries of fishing with a fly rod. It should be noted that this camp would not exist without the time and energy expended by Kurt Nelson of the Al Hazzard Chapter of TU. He seems always able to surmount the countless problems that are involved in an operation of this size. No detail is too small to escape his attention.
This year, five members of the Upper Delaware Chapter of TU were involved in mentoring these youngsters. In the years that I have been assisting in the teaching of the students, I have never met a boy or girl that I would classify as being a brat. They have all been the politest teenagers I have ever met.
Sunday evening, a kind man named Don Tracy allows the students to fish at his pond in Sherman, PA. The pond contains sunfish, largemouth bass, crappie and large channel catfish. Two of these catfish were hooked and landed, each being about three pounds. That is a pretty big fish for your first ever fish hooked and landed on a fly rod.
During the day, the boys and girls are instructed on the intricacies of fly fishing and also basic fly tying. In the evening, they are taken to the West Branch of the Delaware to flyfish. Monday evening we all went to Hale Eddy. Thankfully, the thunderstorms that had been forecast for this area bypassed us. I was a fishing buddy for a young lady from Binghamton, named Danielle. She had never caught a trout before, let alone on a fly. I took her a short distance below the bridge and gave her several of my poorly tied flies. She proceeded to hook and land six trout. She was ecstatic. I was amazed.
A young lady named Sarah was fishing just below us under the tutelage of Karol Sundholm. Sarah landed three trout. I was quite surprised to learn that Sarah was from the town of Katonah. Barb and I had lived in Bedford Hills, which is within walking distance of Katonah, for 35 years. On Wednesday evening I coached Sarah while she fished the West Branch at Starlight, PA. We were able to fish at this location due to the kindness of Dr. Oliver Herz, who allowed the students to access the river from his property. Unfortunately, due to a faulty leader, Sarah did not catch a fish that night. She did have some opportunities to cast to rising fish, but that darned leader did her in.
Support for the fish camp came from several TU chapters, including the Croton Watershed Chapter, which Barb and I had helped to found. The Cortland Company, the Rise Rod Company and the Temple Fork Company have all contributed rods to be used by these students. On their last day, the students will all receive a rod-building kit so that they can put together their very own fly rod. Thus, they will be able to continue to discover the pleasures of fly fishing on their own.
Hats off to Kurt Nelson, the commander in chief of this operation. Somehow Kurt always manages to herd all the cats together and get them to the proper place on time each day. The lads and lassies are fortunate to have a sharp, enthusiastic fellow like Kurt running the show.