Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing Summerfest

Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing Summerfest 2013Had a chance to visit the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum in Livingston Manor, NY for the 30th annual Summerfest.  It was a great day. The weather was perfect and I met some new friends.

The museum is located on the Willowemoc River in upstate New York, just off Route 17. Parking is abundant and only a short walk to the museum.

As I walked across the one lane bridge that leads to the property, I could see anglers downstream fishing some of the faster water. I also passed a few areas marked for fishing access on my drive along Old Route 17.

These next two shots are from the bridge as I walked over to the museum. Beautiful, fishy water.

Willemoc River, Livingston Manor NY

The river was relatively low due to recent drought conditions, but other waters in the area were fishable.

Willemoc River, Livingston Manor NY

Initially I headed over to the fly market, mainly to satisfy my curiosity. There were a wide variety of booths, with everything from local arts and crafts to vodka and kayaks.  But it seemed like the focus was on bamboo rods.

Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing Summerfest 2013

In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many bamboo rods in one place, many of them made or refurbished by local craftsmen.  I believe the museum also has a bamboo rodmaking class, so some of these rods may be coming from graduates as well.

Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing Summerfest 2013

The fly market grounds also served as a casting area, offering  plenty of room to try before you buy. You practically had to dodge the false cast of  folks checking out new rods and reels in front of the vendor tents.

Fly tying materials, nets, books and other items were also available to help you lighten your wallet.

Next stop was the museum, which is filled with local artifacts. Aside from flies and fish mounts of every size and shape, there are a number of tubes filled with fly rods made by craftsmen in the area. It is very interesting to see the tapers, finishes and stories behind these rods.

Bamboo Rods at Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing

The vest below belonged to Lee Wulff, surrounded by some of the flies and equipment he usually carried with him. He was always testing something new.

Lee Wulff fly fishing vest

This was part of the exhibit found in the  Wulff Gallery. It shows some of Joan’s equipment and early photographs, presumably from her casting exhibitions and speaking engagements.

Joan Wulff Exhibit Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing

I saw this guy in my dreams last night.

Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing Summerfest 2013

This was an interesting little exhibit. Known as the Little Gem reel and rod, it measures about 2 feet, but is built on the same taper as a 7′ bamboo rod.  It actually caught fish!

Little Gem Miniature Rod and Reel, Catskill Fly Fishing Museum
Little Gem Miniature Rod and Reel, Catskill Fly Fishing Museum

Casting contest, Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing Summerfest 2013

After the museum tour I headed out back. Hardy was holding a casting competition for distance and accuracy. I did not participate, but there were some solid casters on deck.

I also met up with my Friend Walt Franklin and his wife, Leighanne. Walt writes a great blog, Rivertop Rambles. If you haven’t had a chance, spend some time on his site. Walt is a talented writer and photographer.

The three of us spent the rest of the day knocking around the museum grounds and trading stories. I really enjoyed meeting them both.

Another highlight of the day was meeting Joan Wulff. Joan is a legend in the industry. She is very kind and gracious in person and allowed me to take a couple of pics with her.

Joan Wulff Catskill Museum of Fly Fishing

If you have not been to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum, it is a very easy day trip for NJ, PA, NY and CT. It is also a great excuse to fish some of the amazing trout water in the area. Enjoy!

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  1. Leigh, you give a great tour of Summerfest, and thanks for the plug! Leighanne and I had an excellent time meeting you and taking in the sights.
    walt´s last blog post ..Broken Rod Blues

  2. Mark D. Hartmann says:

    I have a Little Gem fly reel by Tom Satterthwaite that my mother bought for my father’s Christmas-birthday gift in 1977 and this is the only mention of it I could find upon doing an internet search. My dad always loved that little reel and they were both very pleased at how it looked and worked.

    Semper Fi, Mark.

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