Ed Van Put begins this important book with the history of native brook trout and offers little-known details about their sizes, range, and downfall from over-fishing, the growth of streamside industries, and the introduction of competitive species. Sweeping in its scope, Trout Fishing in the Catskills tells a thorough tale of the often tumultuous history of fishing in the Catskills. With a scope of over a century, Van Put tells of the Catskills' frontier fishing beginnings and tracks the rise, fall, and eventual revival of the fisheries.
Throughout, this is a history of people and methods as well as rivers, including painters of the Hudson River School, with profiles of Theodore Gordon, Art Flick, Harry and Elsie Darbee, Sparse Grey Hackle, and more. No serious trout fisherman, in any part of the country, will want to miss this pioneering portrait of a seminal region in American angling history.
Learn more, including excerpts of the book, via Google Books here.
Released in 2007, Trout Fishing in the Catskills provides an in-depth look at a historical region.
- Hardcover (now out of print)
- Featuring restored Hudson River School paintings, illustrations, historical and original photography
- Catskill Flies feature exploring patterns with ties to the river
- Famous trout pools feature
- Newly discovered historical information
- 438 pages, over 150 color and black & white photos and illustrations
- Published by Skyhorse Publishing
Purchase a signed copy here. Signed & personalization available.
"There are few things as timeless as rivers." These are the words with which John Merwin begins his introduction to Ed Van Put’s important history of the Catskill Park and its environs, Trout Fishing in the Catskills. In reading Mr. Van Put’s voluminous tome on this fabled region, one discerns that time itself is a river; a river that flows from its distant head-waters in benighted memory down to the far reaches of that cerulean sea, somewhere in a transcendent eternity. In reading Van Put’s book one finds oneself adrift upon that river in a segment of time that may be judged far more elegant and at the same time far more brutal an age than the present.
1800 through 1960, the greater part of the ninetieth and twentieth centuries together, were the backdrop for this extraordinary era in the quiet sport of angling with the fly. It was a time of abundance so great that no one thought there could ever be an end to it. It was a time of exploration and invention so prolific that the foundations of the sport were inexorably bound in place in just this short season of life. It was a time for thought and action by the now famous progenitors of the greatest sport in existence; those of whom we still look to for knowledge and guidance. It was a time when a few far sighted men and women formulated what would become the conservation movement in the United States and eventually the world.
Van Put’s prodigious research and wordy prose takes us on this voyage through time and space visiting significant ports of call and authoritative personages along the way to paint perhaps the most complete history of a region. A region devoted for almost two centuries, to the pursuit of Savalinus Frontinalis, the American Brook Trout, and its cousins the Brown Trout and, of late, Rainbow Trout. It was here in this twice blessed place that fly fishing in America began in earnest.
On our journey we visit with artists and writers, bureaucrats and barons, poachers and preservationists, the famous and the infamous drifting down this stream. We see the first dry flies in America appear and the first modern method of fly fishing develop. We walk with Henry Inman, the celebrated American artist who first saw the Catskills in a primordial condition and put his observations to work in his art. We stand with men like Seth Green and Thad Norris, legends like Theodore Gordon and Edward Ringwood Hewitt as they fish the pools and eddies of these renowned rivers. We read of fast moving riffles and emerald pools, so prolific that there seemed to be no end to the trout and so beautiful they would leave you speechless at first sight; now all lost to progress and the ages.
The reader is witness to the wholesale slaughter of bushel baskets of trout by hoards of fishing tourists brought to the Catskills on newly laid roadbeds and rails. We attend the stripping of the timber and the coming of the tanneries which brought the pollution of these pristine waters to a new high and human stewardship of same to a new low. We are there for the establishment of hatcheries and the coming of the German (Brown) Trout. We see the private clubs come and go and meet the New York “sports” that would, given the opportunity, have restricted the use of the river to the privileged few. We meet Dr. Emmeline Moore and regard the necessary coming of the conservationists. We are there when Ruben Cross and Roy Steenrod, establish the Catskill School of fly tying based on the methods of Theodore Gordon.
Van Put has expanded upon his previously acclaimed book The Beaver Kill and brought to us this comprehensive history of a region, a tradition, and an age”, as Voelker says in The Testament, that “men are going along for the last time.” This panoptic chronology covers nearly two centuries of failure and success, tragedy and triumph in the cradle of American fly fishing. It is an essential reference for any and all who fish the Catskills or hold the lore and legends of fishing with a fly as pearls of great price.
Ed Van Put, now in his seventh decade, has devoted his life to the care and preservation of the area he chronicles in this volume. He has an intimate knowledge of the flora and fauna of the region. Employed full time by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a Fisheries and Wildlife Manager, Ed has been involved in conservation work for over 50 years. A winner of the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers 2005 Conservation Award, he was recently inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s Hall of Fame.
About the Author
Ed Van Put has worked as a fisheries professional with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) since 1969. An avid fly fisherman for more than fifty years, has authored The Beaverkill: The History of a River and its People, as well as Trout Fishing in the Catskills, an expansive exploration of the development of the Catskills as America's premiere fishing destination. His articles have appeared in The Conservationist, Trout, Fly Fisherman, Fly Rod & Reel, and elsewhere.