Advice for young anglers

Fish tremble at the sound of their names: Jack Lane and George Woerthman (Robert Ford)

If you want to catch a thief, use a thief;

if you want to catch a fish – well fish can’t talk, so you consult with the next best thing – someone who’s been fishing for most of his life.


This Sunday, June 3, the village will throw open its gates to the Blue Mountain Reservoir for the very first time as part of a fishing derby for youngsters from the town and village who are 15-years old and younger.

Since no one has been permitted to legally fish the reservoir off Reservoir Road, you need to talk to someone who has been doing the next best thing every day, rain or shine for the last five years.

Local resident George Woerthman has been fishing off the bridge that crosses the reservoir since he retired five years ago. Before that, he’d be out there on the weekends drowning a worm or two in the hopes of catching the big one.

While mostly fishing in waters at the bottom of the reservoir’s dam, Woerthman does manage to occasionally make a really nice cast into the main portion of the source of the village and much of the town’s portable water supply.

Early on a recent Saturday morning, we drove over to talk fishing with this Gadabout Gaddis of the reservoir – (Google the name, it will be well worth the effort). Woerthman is out there from 6 a.m. to about 10 a.m.

With George this morning was fellow local fisherman Jack Lane, and between the two of them, they were pretty specific on what youngsters should be using and doing if they want to catch a prize-winning fish.

“Tie a number 6 hook to the end of your line,” he advises. Since most of the fish in the reservoir are trout, rainbows, brookies, and brownies, and they all have fairly small mouths, you need a hook they can get to.

“There are also some real big suckers in there,” Lane added. Suckers are bottom-feeding fish, with a small mouth shaped like a suction cup.

“You then take a split shot weight, and put that 18-inches up your line,” Woerthman advises. The split shot should be ¼ oz., he added.

As for the bait, since these fish haven’t seen a lot of fishermen, pretty much anything should work, the two men claim.

“I use mealy worms, night crawlers, bait fish, and some fake worms,” Woerthman said.

Lane said that rubber worms, slugs, garden worms, spinners, and a special worm that only the truly hardcore fisherman would be using out there work too.

Lane offers to show his special stash of worms, and as he opens a small black box there is the pungent odor of horse manure. Yep, Lane uses worms that he finds in horse manure, and according to him, they work “real well.”

For the less brave, the types of worms that you can dig up in your mom or dad’s garden also work well.

The two men also advise that for those fishing in the reservoir, something George insists he’s never done, they should use bobbers. “There are a lot of roots and weeds ready to snag a line,” he said. “Just put that bobber up about 18 to 20 inches on the line, so they don’t fish that deep and they should be fine.”

“Oh yeah, tell them that salmon eggs work as well,” George says.

The fishing derby is sponsored by the Saugerties Fish and Game Club. It runs from 9 a.m. to noon, registration begins at 8 a.m. and all kids must be accompanied by an adult.

Prizes will be awarded at the end of the day. Food and drink will be available.