Honoring the Catskill Legends

Posted 6/8/22

ROSCOE, NY — What could be more fitting for the Catskill Fly Flying Center & Museum (CFFCM) annual dinner and the announcement of the 2022 Catskills Legends, than to host the event in Trout Town, U.S.A.?

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Honoring the Catskill Legends


ROSCOE, NY — What could be more fitting for the Catskill Fly Flying Center & Museum (CFFCM) annual dinner and the announcement of the 2022 Catskills Legends, than to host the event in Trout Town, U.S.A.?

On May 28, the CFFCM convened their gathering at the Rockland House, and in addition to the banquet, honored the contributions of John Hoeko and Mike Canazon. The men were presented with the 2022 Catskills Legends Award for protecting the watershed environment and the fascinating realm of fly fishing.

Catskill legends

John Hoeko, the first recipient, grew up in Fleischmanns, NY, and the lifelong fly fisherman owned and operated Fur, Feathers and Steel in his hometown for many years.

According to the program, his contribution “to the Catskills and to fly fishing was in the mid ‘70s, when he took over as president of Catskill Waters, the chief organization behind lobbing the [New York State] legislature for better water release regimens from the Catskill reservoirs of NYC.”

Hoeko lobbied around the clock for two years to help protect the historic cold-water fisheries of the region, reportedly sleeping in the Capital Building in Albany, NY. Finally then-Gov. Hugh Carey signed the bill into law in 1976, with the support of former New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Peter Berle.

“We got the bill signed that allowed the DEC to manage the water releases, thereby saving 180 miles of water in the Catskills, including the Delaware River,” he said a few moments before receiving the award.

Mike Canazon, the second recipient, sat down at the local eatery’s well-stocked bar in the wake of the ceremony to chat with the River Reporter’s sports scribbler about the well-deserved recognition and how he got involved in fly fishing.

“It’s really great to be honored by your peers,” he said. “When I was a kid, I grew up finger fishing in the Catskills, that’s what we did.”

By way of explaining to a fly fishing novice the intricacies of finger fishing, Canazon said of his youthful experiences, “We’d crawl along the bank to see if there was a fish in the water, take a little pebble, not too big a one, toss it into the water, watch the fish take off under a root or a rock, [because] they think they’re safe, grab them and pull ‘em right out.”

After a G&T, this writer forgot to ask him if by chance he ever tried this technique to land the famous Beamoc from Junction Pool… but that’s a story for another day.

In the program notes, Canazon—aka “Bamboo Mike”—was described as “a Livingston Manor legend you can find easily; he’s usually either fishing local streams, guiding other anglers, or busy crafting bamboo rods… For decades, Canazon has guided anglers in exploring the local waters in search of the clever, mysterious trout that populate our waterways. His volunteer work with multiple organizations exhibits his dedication to the sport and future of the sport...”

Other voices from the stream

New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther was on hand to show her support of the world-renowned fly fishing center and museum.

“The first thing that brings me out every year is Agnes Van Put,” she said. “We’ve been friends forever.”

Gunther said Mike Canazon tried to teach her about fly fishing a while back, but “I got everything I needed, the equipment and the boots, but I wasn’t really that good at it… I needed some help.”

Sitting with her family at one of the tables was Agnes Van Put, now on the verge of turning a remarkable 106 years of age.

The elder of the clan ran the museum’s gift shop for almost 35 years, until she retired a couple of years ago, and was inducted into the ranks as a Catskill Legend.

Meanwhile, over at the silent auction table, Ed and Judy Van Put had a few words to say about the annual event.

On the subject of fly fishing and conservation, Ed Van Put, a fisheries professional with the DEC for more than 43 years and the author of “The Beaverkill: The History of a River and Its People” and “Trout Fishing in the Catskills” said of the sport “It’s what I do, most of my life.”

Judy Van Put noted that they have been members of the CFFCM “since the beginning,” and of recent evolutions at the center, “We’re delighted with Anthony’s (CFFCM president Anthony Magardino) leadership… the membership lapsed for a while, but now we’re back with a new infusion of energy.

“The history in this area is so rich… it’s important to let young people know they are fishing in the same pools that previous generations did.”

The highlight of the auction, conducted by auctioneer Steve Mittelman, occurred when a bidder topped out the bidding for a set of five flies hand-tied by Lee Wulff, signed by the late legend of fly fishing and framed, signed and authenticated by Joan Wulff. Valued at $1,000, the lot sold for $3,500.

As one of the founders of the CFFCM, Joan Wulff serves today on the board of advisors.

“It’s part of my life, I love it… it’s while I’m still here,” said the 95-year old world-famous fly fisher and casting legend.

Reflecting for a moment, Wulff, added that she first wet a line as a 10-year old, and reeled in her first trout two years later, and as some folks say, “the rest is history.”

Additional information on the CFFCM can be obtained at Learn about Catskill Waters at

For the rest of this story and more photos, visit

fishing, catskills, sports, conservation legends


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here