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A talk in the Sporting Legends of the Catskills at the Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection series.

Austin McK Francis and Bethia Waterman will lead a discussion of the history and origins of Catskill sporting clubs and preserves, both public and private that parallels the rise of the American conservation movement.By the late nineteenth century overharvesting of fish and game, water pollution and deforestation caused by the tanning and other industrial uses, as well as the abandonment of overworked farms, and lack of regulations led to dramatic changes in the populations of fish and game throughout the Catskills. The rising consciousness of a need to protect and conserve the water, forests and wildlife in the Catskills led to the creation of  Phoenicia Fish and Game, Upper Esopus Rod and Gun, and Stony Clove Rod and Gun in Shandaken. A hundred years ago these groups of sportsmen became advocates and activists leading the way for local citizens to become involved in the conservation of their local natural environment. We will celebrate their colorful, rebellious, and occasionally blasphemous history.

Saturday, April 28
1 to 3 PM
Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection, The Phoenicia Library
Phoenicia, NY

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About Austin McK Francis

Austin McK. Francis is the owner and publisher of The Beaverkill Press, a small literary press that specializes in sporting and outdoors books. He is the author of two books on squash racquets and six books on fly fishing, including the magnificently photographed and illustrated Land of Little Rivers. Learn more.

About Bethia Waterman

Beth is the co-founder, along with Jerry Bartlett’s widow, Doris, of the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection.

About The Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection

The Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection was founded shortly after the death of Jerry Bartlett in 1995. A well-known fly fishing guide and staunch conservationist, Jerry was president of the Catskill Chapter of Trout Unlimited. With his wife Doris, he owned and operated the Two Brooks Fly Fishing School. As a guide and expert fisherman, Jerry was intimately familiar with stream life and developed detailed teaching guides on the major hatches of insects in Catskill streams, particularly the Esopus Creek.

Occupying a cozy reading room on the second floor of the Phoenicia Library, the Collection’s “Anglers’ Parlor” opened on April 1, 1996 (opening day of the fishing season). Built by local carpenters, electricians and other volunteers in the style of a rustic cabin, the Parlor was filled with fishing lore, tackle, flies, historic artifacts, photos, memorabilia and a core collection of books, which grew to become the largest circulating collection of books on fishing in the Northeast.Unlike many other “special collections,” the Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection is open to all browsers, and anyone with a valid Mid-Hudson Library System universal borrowing card can take out a book.

Over the past two decades, the Anglers’ Parlor has hosted fly tying classes, angling and stream-related workshops, oral history events, commemorations of famed local anglers and guides and book signings by local authors. A “lend-a-rod” program allows anyone with a library card to check out a rod. From its inception, the Bartlett Collection has actively reached out to children in the Phoenicia School with fly tying programs, casting lessons, stream walks, macro-invertebrate workshops and support for the Trout in the Classroom Program.

In March 2011, a devastating fire destroyed the Phoenicia Library, but the community rose to the challenge. Nearly four years later, in January 2015, the expanded, fully accessible, rebuilt library opened at 48 Main Street. Although all the books and rods were lost, the Angling Collection received generous donations of new rods and books and added two shadow boxes exhibiting the flies tied by Catskill Master Tyers for the hatch chart section of this website. Some furniture and framed photographs and artifacts were rescued and refinished, and a new braided rug added the finishing touch to the warm and welcoming environment.

As it enters its twentieth year, the rustic fishing camp called “The Angler’s Parlor” is better than ever, thanks to the generosity and good will of our supporters near and far. Learn more.