Saturday, August 27, 2016

Burroughs:  The loose flow of the artwork below exhibits little connection to John Burroughs’ harsh words about the landscape of the upper Rondout.  In his essay, A Bed of Boughs, the Catskill naturalist wrote, “The scenery was wild and desolate in the extreme, the mountains on either hand looking as if they had been swept by a tornado of stone.”  Perhaps only the most astute observer might be able to locate this deeply shaded section of John Burroughs’ Rondout Creek.

Burroughs, 11x14:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Woodstock School of Art:  During 2016’s summer, Lois attended a Woodstock School of Art workshop taught by Kate McGloughlin.  Various “plein air” landscapes were created from Hudson River valley and Catskill scenes, all depicted below.  These are quick studies of the countryside, each with a bit of history involved.

From Shultis Farm Road, in Bearsville--- a venerable Ulster County family name.

Mountain view, 10x8:

Shultis Farm Road, 8x10:

From Rokeby, or La Bergerie, in Barrytown, across the Hudson--- with many landowners from the Livingstons to the Astors.

La Bergerie, 10x8;

The shade tree: 8X10:

From Weidner, or Hickory Hill farm in West Shokan--- with tentacles in the Hardenburgh Patent.

Hickory Hill Farm, 8x10:

Weidner barn, 8x10:

From Herrick’s bridge, in Saugerties--- an Ulster County family name that dates back to the founding of America.

Herrick’s field, 5x7:

Krummholz, 5x7:

Herrick’s red barn, 8x10:

Coxing Kill trout:  The Shawangunk Mountains--- or Gunks are they are known--- run from Kingston south to Port Jervis, the eastern ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.  While this name has a Dutch derivative, Native Americans referred to the Gunks as “smoky air.”

In Edward G. Henry’s handbook--- Gunks Trails--- the author wrote, “If the Shawangunks were said to have a heart, it would be the Trapps and Sky Top. … The Trapps titled, hard strata boldly rise from the small, glacier-enhanced gap.  The Delaware Indians used this mountain pass as a major war trail.  The Trapps is Dutch name meaning ‘staircase’, but the name was actually applied to a small settlement below the cliffs.”

Coxing Clove is centered by the Trapps and Sky Top; it was first settled in the late 1700s primarily by inhabitants of Dutch descent.  Lake Minnewaska is also found here, out of which drains a branch of the upper Coxing Kill flowing downstream through the glacier gap.  This lake was once known as Coxing Pond.

The Delaware Indians and Dutch are long since gone, as is the Trapps hamlet.  Perhaps today this area is best known for its world-class rock climbing, but brook trout are still to be found.

Coxing Kill trout, 11x14:

The tailout:  Within the anatomy of trout streams, there is a section of water--- a flow, known as the tailout.  Typically this is found at the end of a pool.  Often it is shallow due to rocks and gravel that have settled here, and typically the current's speed gathers intensity as it passes through, onward to faster water downstream. 

One such tailout often gathering anglers' attention, and offering safe passage to Chimney Hole downriver, is the tailout of the Trestle Flat on Esopus Creek.

Tailout, 11x14:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Brook trout and the NYS Conservationist:  Ever so often a photograph we take while hiking or fishing these Catskills is used by some agency, whether it is NYS DEC, USGS, Soil & Water, a local town, or someone else; and we are flattered, happy to be of help.  Recently the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation used one such photo, in their website announcing the 2016 trout season and also on the rear cover of the April issue of NYS Conservationist magazine.  That brook trout was caught, and released, on the upper reaches of the East Branch of the Neversink on September 3rd, 2015 using a #16 Sofa Pillow dry fly--- a western classic--- and an A.J. Thramer F.E. Thomas Fairy 3 weight cane rod, a sweet piece of bamboo for late summer brook trout fishing.

Not the typical landscape, but an underwater finny creature with scales and a fly stuck in its mouth.

But first, the April NYS Conservationist:

Brook trout and the Sofa Pillow, 11x14:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Plein air, summer of 2015:  Plein air, landscape artwork with a French twist.  The term means “open or in full air” and denotes painting outdoors.  During the summer of 2015 Lois attended a Woodstock School of Art workshop taught by Kate McGloughlin.  Participants painted various landscapes in grassy fields on both sides of the Hudson River, in Woodstock and Barrytown--- at Rokeby Estate of Astor family lineage.  Below are several of the miniature artworks that were fabricated.

Pa151-- Rokeby, 10x8:

Pa152-- Rokeby, 5x7:

Pa153-- Rokeby, 5x7:

Pa154-- Woodstock, 5x7:

Pa155-- Woodstock, 8x10:

Pa156-- Woodstock, 8x10:

Pa157-- Woodstock, 8x10:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Legendary Esopus Creek pools:  Below are landscapes of three legendary Esopus Creek pools: the Trestle, Jennings Pool, and Mother’s Pool, plus stories of big trout.

The historic railroad trestle over the Esopus, downstream of Boiceville, dates back to the very early 1900s--- the Ulster and Delaware Railroad Company, a rail line known as “The Only All-Rail Route to the Catskill Mountains.”  At its pinnacle the U&D ran from Kingston on the Hudson through four Catskill counties before terminating in Oneonta.

In 1932 U&D became the Catskill Mountain Branch of New York Central, which later merged with Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968 to form Penn Central only to eventually go bankrupt in 1970.  In 1976 Conrail--- Consolidated Rail Corporation--- was created by the U.S. government and assumed ownership of the rail line.  However, the last Conrail freight train departed Kingston on September 28th, 1976 headed to Stamford before returning to Kingston on October 2nd

In 1979 Ulster County purchased the 38.6 mile section of rail from Kingston to the county line at Highmount.  Then in 1982 the rail line was leased to the Catskill Mountain Railroad--- CMRR.  At that time the Trestle officially became CMRR Bridge C30, the last name change from its original U&D C30 designation.

Before the Trestle was destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2011, it served as a wooden footpath for many anglers travelling to and from the Chimney Hole at the mouth of the Ashokan Reservoir downstream.  However, trout fishermen weren’t the only users of this lost deck plate girder bridge.  On several late June afternoons local Onteora High School students could be seen jumping from the structure into the deep sections of the cool Esopus Creek below.

Perhaps the fondest personal memory of the Trestle occurred on April 13th, 2010 when in the shadows of the dilapidated railroad bridge, one lucky flyfisher caught a silvery twenty-two inch Ashokan Reservoir run brown trout, the first trout he ever landed on his Black Beauty Heddon cane rod.

Trestle, U&D C30, 11x14 (DtC):

Jennings Pool in Mount Tremper bears the name of noted fly tyer and fisher Preston J. Jennings.  Jennings was a sales engineer who lived in Brooklyn, NY, but often fished the Catskill while doing research for his book, first published by Derrydale Press in 1935, A Book of Trout Flies.

The late Ernest Schwiebert, also a noted trout fisher, wrote the following about Jennings and this book, “The work of Jennings set the standard of excellence that has measured all subsequent work on fly-fishing entomology.”

Among other trout streams, Jennings extensively studied aquatic insect life on the Esopus Creek for his manuscript.  He often stayed in Woodstock while fishing the Esopus, but also visited and tied flies for guests staying at Kahil’s Rainbow Lodge on UC 212 in Mount Tremper.  There he befriended Arnold Gingrich who would later write glowingly about the author.  Among the regulars at Rainbow Lodge, Jennings Isonychia Nymph came to be known as the “Esopus Nymph”.

Preston Jennings tying a fly:

Jennings often fished the pool couched between the NY 28 bridge and the old red steel bridge at Mount Pleasant Road.  Years ago this was another structure that young local hooligans could be seen jumping from into the Esopus Creek below.

Jennings Pool, 11x14:

Once again, personal fond memories of Jennings Pool involve mammoth brown trout hooked and lost here; the latest occurrence the morning after the NY Mets lost the 2015 World Series, just piling up miseries of what could have been.

Mother’s Pool is located off Plank Road--- Old Route 28, just downstream of the hamlet of Phoenicia, tubing capital of the Catskills.  Local angling lore tells how this pool was named after the mother of Esopus Creek guide and Dean of the stream, Ray Smith.  Ray’s mother--- Agnes Moon Smith--- trout fished also, and according to local legend when she was nowhere to be found around the house, the answer to the question of “Where is she?” was “Mother’s Pool.”

This pool was also the former home of Old Bess, a 9½ pound brown caught here by Larry Decker on April 29th, 1955.  Decker seduced the massive brown trout, measuring 30¾ inches long, while fishing minnows on his Payne fly rod!

Larry Decker and Old Bess coming off Mother’s Pool:

Mother’s Pool, soft light 11x14: