Remembering Mary Dette Clark and Cathy Beck

The fly fishing community has been rocked over the last few weeks by losing two greats within a very short period of time.

And we were blessed to have known both of them.

Mary Dette Clark

The Dette name is synonymous with the fabled history of Catskill fly fishing. Daughter of Walt and Winnie, Mary carried on the family business her parents started in 1928. Dette Flies is believed to be the longest family-run fly shop in the world. From the front room of her home, fly anglers would stop in to grab flies, fishing needs, or just say hello.

Mary Dette Clark (source: Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum)
The amazing Mary Dette Clark. (source: Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum)

Any time we were in the area, we would stop by and pick up some flies. Mary was always incredibly welcoming. Back when I was first learning how to tie, she was always willing to sit down behind the vice and help with any trouble I was encountering. During one particular visit, she was talking about some electronic issue she was experiencing. As I was currently working on a help desk, I offered my assistance. She was very thankful, but in all honesty, it was the least I could do for someone who gave a lifetime to fly fishing and fly tying. After I was able to resolve the issue, we sat and chatted over a cup of coffee. She was incredibly kind. I would periodically say to myself “I can’t believe you are sitting with Mary Dette having coffee!” Any time I had an opportunity to chat with her, I cherished the chance and she was always as gracious as she could be.

Mary was 92. She leaves behind her four children, six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and thousands of friends and admirers of the fly fishing community.

Cathy Beck

Half of the “first couple of fly fishing,” Cathy Beck was an incredible angler, wife, and friend. Barry and Cathy have been a force in the fly fishing community since opening their shop, Fishing Creek Outfitters, in Benton, Pennsylvania together in 1988.

In addition to being incredibly accomplished fly anglers, Barry and Cathy are talented photographers. We attended several of their photography seminars at the Fly Fishing Shows over the years, but I wasn’t actually introduced to her until about a decade or so ago.

Just like Mary, Cathy was as pleasant as could be and would always stop and chat with anyone who wanted to talk. One special memory we will always cherish was after a busy day at The Fly Fishing Show in Edison. We were having dinner at the hotel restaurant when Barry and Cathy walked in. They ordered a drink and went and sat in a quiet corner. We decided not to bother them, as it was a busy day and we thought they would want some quiet time. As we finished our dinner and got up to leave, Cathy caught my eye and asked us to join them. We said we didn’t want to interrupt their quiet evening. They would hear nothing of it. We sat, the four of us, for quite some time, just chatting and enjoying the evening.

We just saw Barry and Cathy a few weeks ago at the Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ. We didn’t have very long to talk, but we were able to steal a quick moment to say hello.

Barry and Cathy Beck (source:
Barry and Cathy Beck (source:

When we received word Cathy passed away unexpectedly, like many others, we were shocked. She passed while she and Barry hosted a group of fly fishers at Laguna Verde Lodge, aka “Jurassic Lake,” in a remote region of Argentina. She was 71 years old.

The day before she passed away, she posted a picture of her after catching an absolutely huge rainbow. Well, I guess if you are going to go, at the end of the day after catching an amazing rainbow in an area few people get the opportunity to fish – well, I guess that’s not too bad.

Still, it doesn’t make the hurt any less.

Cathy leaves behind her partner in life and business, Barry, a daughter, and two grandchildren. She also leaves behind throngs of admirers and friends

We offer our most sincere condolences to the Beck and Dette families. We mourn with you and we cherish their memories.

Tight lines, ladies.

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