Not that the hallowed history of the place mattered much to the vets – they were riveted by the beauty of the day and the opportunity cast a fly through the feeding lanes of the trout that were said to inhabit the stream.
The veterans were invited to experience the waters of “The Willow” by the members of the DeBruce Fly Fishing Club, whose forty or so members enjoy the peace, beauty, and superb fishing that the Willowemoc provides. Past members of this exclusive conclave have included respected fishing writers Sparse Grey Hackle, Nick Lyons, Dick Salmon, Howard Walden and Ed Zern. Today’s guests were perhaps not as notable, but no less deserving.
Some of the vets had enjoyed the sport of fly fishing in the past; some had drowned a worm or two, and two of them had never fished before. All were eager and as soon as the beats were assigned, they and their personal guides hit the stream, and by lunch time most of the vets had landed a trout or two and all of them had had fish on. The smiles were blinding and by dinner time, which was hosted by a local fine eatery, their stories and their details probably grew by a few inches, proving that they were all now experienced trout fishermen.
After a good night’s rest in the bunkhouses graciously provided by the Catskills Fly Fishing Center and Museum, the vets were in for another treat. Our hosts at the Debruce club had arranged for the vets to spend the day on the Beaverkill as guests of the neighboring Beaverkill Trout Club. With a history dating back to 1872, their club, like the DeBruce Club, has a storied past leading to the birth of dry fly fishing in America.