Battenkill

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dennis
Posts: 827
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:37 am
Location: Ohio

Battenkill

Post by dennis » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:58 am

Yesterday I was reading John Merwin's "The Battenkill" a surprise gift from my wife. :o she does that every once in a while and George Schlotter who ran the Anglers Nook on Rt. 313 in Shushan N.Y. was mentioned who's a hackle grower. I edited the original post and asked if anyone here knew if he was still in business or not. Since Mike Valla fishes there some I was hoping he would have a little history on the subject.

Well, I was shocked when I stumbled on to an artical from a blog I read every once in a while. It was about Mr.Schlotter. Here is that artical.

HOT TOWELS

My barber - Mr. Lyndsey Bezio of Mr. Lyndsey's Barber Shop in Clifton Park, New York - has been cutting my hair for more years than I like to admit. Lyndsey is the only gentleman in the area that knows how to give a decent military cut, and even though it's been 15 years since I left the Army, my hair still likes to play dress up. Lyndsey's a veteran too - Navy, but still technically a veteran I guess - so he understands my need for a low maintenance head.

Of course, just about any barber could give me a fade or a high-and-tight. I suppose that in a pinch, even the ladies at the trendy coiffure up the street could get the job done - although they'd probably use scissors and gel instead of clippers and alcohol. Heretics, but it doesn't matter. I cannot bring myself to leave Lyndsey. I'd feel like I was cheating on my spouse. Besides, there's just something about the way he does business.

Lyndsey is quick with banter, and knows how to appeal to his customers' interests. With Bob he talks politics. With Steve it's sports. With me he'll talk fishing. The shop is adorned with military and sports memorabilia. He keeps lollipops and gum for the boys - there are no girls at Lyndsey's shop. A cut or shave ends with menthol and a hot towel. Lyndsey is an old school barber, running an old school barber shop. He's one of a dying breed.

Even rarer than the old school barbershop is the old school fly shop. There might be one left out west, but I haven't seen one since George Schlotter's place - The Angler's Nook - closed over a decade ago. George was something of a regional, fly fishing celebrity in the 70s and 80s. He originated a simple skating dry fly called the Vermont Caddis, and a hendrickson emerger that is - to this day - still deadly during a hatch of ephemerella subvaria.

The Nook was actually a shack off route 313, not far from where the Battenkill crosses the border from Vermont into New York. As one passed over the threshold of the shop, he or she was usually greeted by a pair of bespectacled eyes peering up from behind a desk that effectively hid most of the proprietor's face. George spent the better part of every single day at that desk, tying flies for shops around the country. Undoubtedly, he can still whip up a dozen variants quicker than I can piece together a bugger, and his flies may still be found in bug bins from Maine to Washington.

If George wasn't seated behind the desk when you arrived, then he was likely out back messing with the chickens. He raised birds for hackle as Whiting had not yet come on the scene, and Metz and Hoffman were too costly an investment for a commercial tyer whose livelihood depended on economy. He sold a few capes, but used most of them himself.

I once saw George select chicks to raise after they had hatched. He separated out all the hens, and placed them in a black plastic bag. He then wrapped the opening of that bag around the exhaust pipe of his car. After running the engine for just a few minutes, the squealing and piping stopped as all the chicks were dead, having been asphyxiated. Cock hackle sold. Hen hackle did not. I remember wondering what it must have been like to know the world for only a few confused moments. It was a foolish, and juvenile thought to have had. George had a family to support. He couldn't afford to be charitable.

On the wall of George's shop hung a beautiful charcoal sketch of a brown trout chasing a minnow. That drawing fueled my dreams throughout adolescence, when those dreams weren't otherwise occupied by more typical teenage fair. The brown was huge, larger than life I suppose. Its spots were the size of dimes, and he wore a fearsome kype. That fish could have eaten every last one of George's chickens, and I spent season after season trying to live up to the promise of that sketch. I suppose I still do. Now that I've a few more years under my belt, however, I can be absolutely sure that fish like that do dwell in the river's riffles and eddies. I've hooked a few, but I haven't been fortunate enough to close the deal.

In the end, my memories of The Nook will have to sustain me. I can't see George ever coming back, and I think it unlikely I'll ever find another shop quite like his. That's not to say I plan to stop searching, but in the meantime, I suppose I'll have to get by on hot towels and the promise of trophy trout.

In the end, my memories of The Nook will have to sustain me. I can't see George ever coming back, and I think it unlikely I'll ever find another shop quite like his. That's not to say I plan to stop searching, but in the meantime, I suppose I'll have to get by on hot towels and the promise of trophy trout.

Thanks to bkill for posting this on the rusty spinner blog.

If anyone here has any stories of George they would like to share, please do.

Dennis

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Eperous
Posts: 4900
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:20 pm
Location: Catskills

Re: Battenkill

Post by Eperous » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:14 am

Dennis... that's a nice book, I gave my copy to our oldest son who lives up in that general area and fishes the Battenkill a lot more than I do now... I recall stopping in the shop several times over the years, neat little place - always found something that I "had to have"... but to be honest, I don't recall anything special about the necks I picked up there, but maybe they were not ones he grew as I didn't pay very much for them... he kept a bin of cheap necks that I would salavage through.... :oops: as for the Battenkill, it's a special river for sure and one of the hardest that I've ever fished... trout don't come easy - at least not for me - in the section I wander up by the VT border... and, in the summer time now it's over run with tubers, canoes, etc... hard to find wading room on weekends there... :roll: it was also the first NYS stream where Didymo was discovered, followed by the East Branch of the Delaware and then the Esopus... something I blame on kayakers and canoeists, not felt wading shoes - but I'm getting political now... nough said... :evil:

Ed

mikevalla
Posts: 1686
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:16 pm
Location: 1 hr north of the Catskills

Re: Battenkill

Post by mikevalla » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:08 am

I spent many days in George's shop--when fishing was slow---lots of BSing..great...
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grumps2b
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:59 pm

Re: Battenkill

Post by grumps2b » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:41 am

Hi Dennis,

I don't know if you are aware that George tied on Saturdays during the season at the Orvis shop in Roscoe. Unfortunately he no longer does so. I was fortunate to meet hime for 3 or for seasons there and he is quite the gentleman and an interesting tier.He would speak with anyone who asked a question or even just looked like they had a question to ask. One day he asked where I was from, and I told him I was born and raised in New Rochelle, N Y (still live there) and darned if he wasn't from the same town. If you have or come across a copy of Thomas Ames Jr's book Hatch Guide for New England Streams, you will find him credited for several fly recepies in the back of the book.

He has a son on the west coast and goes out there for the winters and last I heard he still had a unit in one of the trailer camps in the catskills for the summers. I belive he stopped tying for the Orvis shop in roscoe because he got too busy tying for Orvis direct. I think if you stopped in the shop in Roscoe you might be able to get information as to how to contact him if you are interested.

Good Luck

grumps2b

dennis
Posts: 827
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:37 am
Location: Ohio

Re: Battenkill

Post by dennis » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:20 pm

Thanks for all of the great information. I really appreciate it.

Ed, I did not know the Battenkill was the first N.Y. stream to have Didymo. Political or not I agree with you about the canoeists and others causing the problem, not felt wading shoes.
I have no problem with that kind of people untill they abuse and show no respect for others using the river for there injoyment.
But it's there and I guess we learn to live with it.

Mike, I'm sure you have had some great times with George.

grumps, how long ago did George tye in Roscoe and would that have been the Beaverkill Angler. His Vermont Caddis pattern sounds like a great pattern. According to Merwin George tied it with hackle one hook size smaller and used floatant when twitched on the surface and undressed hanging vertically like a emerger.

I will have to buy Ames book and check it out and I will call the shop so I can contact him.

Thanks Dennis

grumps2b
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:59 pm

Re: Battenkill

Post by grumps2b » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:33 pm

Dennis

I think it has been two years sinceGeorge tyed at the Beaverkill Angler, but I am pretty sure he still is in the area during the fishing season. It's interesting to note the mention of the Vermont Caddis as that is the fly George was tying the first time I met him. When he removed the fly from the vise he handed it to me and explained how to fish it and then proceeded to slowly tie the next one so I could tie them for myself. A reall gentle man that George.

Grumps2b

dennis
Posts: 827
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:37 am
Location: Ohio

Re: Battenkill

Post by dennis » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:35 am

Thanks grumps2b'

I will definitly check that out this season, and will share it with everyone.

Den nis

Mantis
Posts: 321
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:43 pm

Re: Battenkill

Post by Mantis » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:34 am

A couple of years ago, could be three, George tied with me at Orvis in Manchester Vermont. He said he traveled the country living in his RV. I hadn't seen him in years
and we had a lot of catching up to do. He said he loved the freedom it gave him. I know I asked and he answered many more questions, but I can't recall it all at the moment. Bob

willowhead

Re: Battenkill

Post by willowhead » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:14 pm

Thankx for the great read........i met George in the Beaverkill Angler a few times.....very nice cat. ;)

squish67
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 9:56 am
Location: Greenwich, New York

Re: Battenkill

Post by squish67 » Fri May 06, 2011 10:46 am

Well this is quite interesting! The original Battenkill Angler's Nook was in a red shack just west of the current building. It had orginally been a gas station in the 20's, adn Ralph entwhistle bought it in the 60's. Ralph was a commercial/graphic artist from Jersy and he opened a fly shop there. I believe he was a friend or acquaintance of Rockwell/Atherto/and Scheaffer (see Merwin The Battenkill). I met him in the early 60's when my Aunt bought a farm in Buskirk and we began vissting in the summer. He evetually moved to the White River in Arkansas in '71 I believe adn George Schlotter bought his shop. His son Rick still lives here adn owns the Stovery on Rt 40 in Argyle. GS was an operating engineer from Putnam Valley, originally from New Rochelle. He had learned to tie from Herb Howard (also from New Rochelle) adn had wanted a fly shop! In addition he put up another building next door and opened a diner which he ran for a couple of years with his wife Mary Ann. I believe in '74 he decided to get rid of the diner and moved the fly shop inot that building. the old shop remained empty until he and I worked out a deal and I moved inot it in '75. What a deal it was! I got $50/week plus room (the old shop) and board (he and Mary Ann and his two sons lived in a trailer out back, and she is a great cook) for which I had to work in the shop, help in the campground and tie 30 dozen flies a week! Perfect for a guy with a new degree from NYU busness school!That went on for 6 years. George and I evetually became partners in Battenkill Flies and Materials, through which we wholesaled the necks we raised, some materials we processed and flies!As with all good marriges and parntnerships, it came to an end in 1981. I went off to a career and George kept the chickens. When he closed the shop he gave the stock to Ed Hepp to keep an eye on, Ed told me the last of them died in 2010. I still tied a bit for Orvis and others, and I am thinking maybe that will be a good way to spend my retirement. Lot's of stories to tell about the last 36 years and the Battenkill. The old shop was torn down several years ago, and the liar's bench wall of fame is gone. May have to redo that too.

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