The Liar’s Bench at The Angler’s Nook, Shushan, New York

I received a fly order from a customer in Delaware last month. Our back-and-forth e-mail correspondence eventually turned his initial dozen-and-a-half order for my Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger into a very sizeable order, as he kept adding more patterns until his order reached ten dozen, including some sulfur Comparaduns and Thorax Duns, and a few dozen of a pattern by Jim Slattery, originator of the Stimulator, called the Triple Threat Caddis. Here’s a link to Fly Angler’s On Line (FAOL) with that pattern: http://www.flyanglersonline.com/flytying/fotw2/091304fotw.php

The TTC, as I call it, while I’ve never fished it, looks like a great pattern. I’m definitely going to tie some up for my personal fly box. And I had fun tying it. I did them for my customer in tan with orange thread as the FAOL article suggests, a ginger-brown version, and olive. Anyway, to The Liar’s Bench at the Angler’s Nook. My customer in Delaware and I have been in contact and he has sent me some photos. One from earlier this past week caught my attention because of the names painted on the wall. This was all new to me, but I recognized a couple names in the photograph. Investigation that I’ve done led me to this post on Sparse Gray Matter: http://www.sparsegreymatter.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1421

Here is why this simple contact for a fly order morphed and grew into a fascinating bit of fly fishing nostalgia. The photo sent to me by my customer in Delaware is something that I have not been able to find on line, that is, a photograph of The Liar’s Bench at The Angler’s Nook, which was George Schlotter’s fly shop in Shushan, New York. Originally the shop was owned by Ralph Entwhistle. Two names jumped out at me: Lew Oatman, who lived in Shushan, creator of numerous baitfish streamer imitations, including one of my all-time favorite streamer fly patterns – the Brook Trout, sometimes called the Little Brook Trout, and John Atherton. Here is a link to the Brook Trout tied by Chris Del Plato, along with several of Lew Oatman’s other original patterns. https://sites.google.com/site/cdelplato/lewoatmanpatterns

John Atherton, 1900-1952, is the author of The Fly and the Fish, published in 1951. Here is a link to a site with detailed information about John Atherton: http://www.sullivangoss.com/john_Atherton/

Atherton was a very talented artist as well as a fly tier, angler, and author. I encourage you to read the information about his life, it is fascinating. One of his famous award-winning paintings, The Black Horse, hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. John Atherton had more than one-hundred covers published on The Saturday Evening Post.

Here is the photo sent to me by my customer in Delaware. He and his family visited there and he fished the Battenkill River as a young man. The photo was taken in the 1970’s. Don’t forget folks, you can click your mouse on the image to view an enlarged version.

The Battenkill - The Angler's Nook Liar's Bench

The Battenkill – The Angler’s Nook – Liar’s Bench. Photo courtesy of Richard Gordon. Chris Del Plato informed me that Al Prindle was the Shushan Postmaster, for whom Lew Oatman’s pattern of the same name was created.

The remaining names on the bench did not turn up anything on a google search, but I only checked the first page that came up. I’m sure there are some folks who might be familiar with them. Possibly author Mike Valla, who spent some time in The Angler’s Nook, can shed some light on the remaining names. I am very pleased that my customer gave his permission to post this photo. As I noted, I failed to find a single image online of this particular Liar’s Bench. Most of them led to various bars and pubs across the country with this name. Thank you Richard, for sending the photo. This is an incredible bit of fly fishing history for the Vermont – New York area.

An edit with additional information: The comment below posted by Chris Del Plato corrected my original statement (edited above to reflect the correct info) that Lew was the postmaster in Shushan. Chris informed me that Al Prindle was the Shushan Postmaster. If I had looked this up in Joseph Bates Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing, 1950, 1966, 1996, I would have read this: “This bucktail (Shushan Postmaster) was originated by Lew Oatman of Shushan, New York, about 1953 and named for the postmaster of the town (Al Prindle), who was one of Lew’s favorite fishing companions on the Battenkill River, which flows from Vermont into New York state.” Thanks Chris!

Another edit: Rich Norman, in the comments below, corrected the name Peggy as the family dog.

Additionally, I found a photo of a Normal Rockwell cover painting from The Saturday Evening Post. Subsequent research that I did, again sparked by information provided by Chris Del Plato, led me to discover that Al Prindle was the subject of at least two Norman Rockwell paintings. This one is titled “Catching the Big One” though I read online that the original title was “Fishing Lesson.” It was the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in on August 3, 1929.

Catching the Big One - painting by Norman Rockwell. This was originally titled Fishing Lesson. Al Prindle,the postmaster in Shushan, New York, for whom Lew Oatman's Sunshan Postmaster fly was named, was the subject for the painting.

“Catching the Big One” – painting by Norman Rockwell. This was originally titled “Fishing Lesson.” Al Prindle, the postmaster in Shushan, New York, for whom Lew Oatman’s Shushan Postmaster fly was named, was the subject for the painting. This photo came from http://www.rockwellplates.com.