Catskill Chill

Among the Guides in Upstate New York

During the early months of 2016, I documented a group of fly anglers that live and work on the rivers of the Catskill Mountains. One hundred miles north of New York City, the Catskills are home to some of the best trout streams in the country. The Delaware River and its branches along with the Beaverkill and Willowemoc are the center of the flyfishing world in upstate New York.

My introduction to this world came via a 27-year-old angler named Matthias Hackett. I met Matthias as he sat twisting up bugs in a Pawling, NY fly shop. I explained my project and he offered to introduce me to the trout bums of the Catskills. The following morning, we hit the road with two gas-station coffees and a sedan full of gear. Matthias told me his story, of tying flies in high school and slowly becoming part of the fishing community in the region, finally becoming a guide on the rivers he loves.

Arriving at the campsite at the Beaver-Del—a small clearing of land nestled between the Catskills that has stood since 1946, and named after the two rivers, the Beaverkill and the East Branch Delaware River—I met Zachary Anderson, another guide who rows a drift boat more than 10 miles a day for clients looking for an “authentic” Catskill flyfishing experience. Zach stood in the rusted doorframe of his RV, a shelter that had seen its best years a decade ago. This was our home for the next few days—keeping us dry from the unpredictable showers of the Catskills. As night came over the mountains I listened to fishing stories and drank beer by campfire

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