Tuesday, the 4th of April of 2017, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Wind Diner on Route 145, Preston Hollow.

The OFs that took the long way around on the flats, made better time than the OFs that came over the mountain. There was quite an elevation fog that made the mountain trek much slower. Generally over the mountain is a nice way to get to the diner because the views coming down the mountain from Rensselaerville are spectacular.

This question was asked by one OF:  why is Preston Hollow here? This scribe found little information, the population as of  the 2010 census was 366 souls, down from the 2000 census which showed that the roads were trodden by only 748 human feet kicking up dust.

It seems that a fellow from Connecticut, Dr. Samuel Preston settled here in 1789.Why? Beats us. Then 4 years later, (Dr. Sam must have lived like a hermit) in 1793 along came Henry Couchman who found the nearest mill was in Leeds (by Catskill) {that’s a hike from Preston Hollow} and the nearest apple tree was in Schoharie {again another hike}, the connection between the two points again beats the OFs, however, Henry did purchase a bushel of apples from the tree in Schoharie and brought them to Preston Hollow and started an orchard. This is about all you could do here because there are hills on both sides of the Catskill creek at Preston Hollow; actually from Middleburgh to Catskill along Route 145 there is really very little flat land ─ the mountains are like a vertex of an isosceles triangle at the creek.

With the creek running pretty full in back of the diner one of the topics at the table was fishing, and the opening day of fishing this year. Unfortunately, none of the OFs at my end of the table were out casting their lures in the water this year. “At 27 degrees outside I’m staying in,” one OF said and the others concurred. Leave it for the kids was the consensus of the older guys.

However, then they began talking fishing stories mostly fishing the Salmon River around Pulaski, NY. One of the reasons for taking this trip according to OFs was that not only was the fishing great, but it was an easy drive, and did not take too long.

One OF mentioned how slippery the rocks are on the banks of the river and it is a good idea to have spikes on your waders. This scribe is NOT a fisherman so he had no idea spikes came with waders. If this scribe was walking with spikes on slippery rocks the first thing this scribe would do is fall in. Spikes on wet rocks did not seem to compute.

The OFs that fished the Salmon River did fall in at one time or another. One was carried downstream a few yards and did not drop his pole. Which comes first, drowning or saving your fishing pole?  In this case it looks like drowning wins out ─ save the pole. One OF fell in and his waders filled with water so he was soaked from head to foot and the OF did not bring extra clothes. He said he was soaked from head to toe and froze the rest of the day. The lesson learned here was even if the OF was going fishing only for the day it would be good to bring extra everything (in the way of clothes) just in case.

In Pulaski, the salmon fishermen are lined along both sides of the river for miles and in the river there are islands.  One OF said lots of fisher people go out to the islands to fish. However, when on an island and hearing a siren going off, it is not a fire, it is time to clear the islands because the water is going to rise. When the siren does goes off and you don’t clear off the island then the fishermen on that island can plan on spending the night there, and on some of the islands those that did not heed the warning will have to scurry to high ground. One OF said there you are on that island, in waders, no porta-johns and you are going to be there for the next 12 to 15 hours.

What becomes of the fish that are caught the OFs didn’t say. The OFs never mentioned bringing coolers to bring them home, or if the salmon were even any good. To hear their stories, even when they fall in or get soaked, it sounds like all the OFs that head to the Salmon River to fish have a lot of fun.

This scribe’s only contact with fishing was taking his kids fishing (years ago) and this scribe spent the rest of the day untangling lines and baiting hooks; in the winter it was digging holes in the ice and setting up tip-ups, plus freezing,  so never once has this scribe cast a line. However, the “kids” who are now adults in their fifties still fish.  Hmmmmm.

The OFs that made it to Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow and watched the rushing brown water of the Catskill Creek come very close to the back of the diner were: Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Richard Frank, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Don Wood, Ray Kennedy, Sonny Mercer, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Pastor Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Harold Grippen, and me.

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