Tag Archives: Fly Fishing

#pwaf2014 and an Interview with Lefty Kreh

So I’m pretty thrilled to share that I got the awesome opportunity to interview fly fishing legend Bernard “Lefty” Kreh a couple weeks ago for the Thomasville Townie.  I learned more in that 40 minute phone interview about salt water fly fishing than I could have learned in 10 years, with some writing and life lessons thrown in for good measure.  I shared a small amount of that interview in an article I wrote for the Townie, which hit stands around Thomasville on Friday.  I am sharing it with you today to encourage you to make the trip to Thomasville next weekend (November 21-23) for the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.  Between the Preview Party, Bird Dog Bash, the Wildlife Conversations (two with Lefty himself), and the Art Festival itself, there is truly something for everyone who has an eye for art and the outdoors.  Check www.pwaf.org for tickets, volunteer opportunities, and the full schedule.

As if to foreshadow this interview, I caught many glimpses of Lefty’s work while in Montana in September.

Lefty Kreh's Book Spotted in West Yellowstone, Montana | Oysters & Pearls

His postage stamps and hand-tied flies were also prominent in the International Fly Fishing Museum in Livingston, Montana.

Lefty Kreh's Flies in International Fly Fishing Museum in Livingston, Montana | Oysters & Pearls

Lefty Kreh will be at #pwaf2014 on Saturday, November 22 at 3PM and Sunday, November 23, at 2:30PM.  Lefty will also host daily casting demonstrations at the Festival at 11AM Saturday and 12:30PM Sunday.

#pwaf2014 | Oysters & Pearls

If you do make it to the festival, be sure to snap some pictures and hashtag them with #pwaf2014.  We would love to see them!

Without further ado, I introduce you to Lefty Kreh.

Beginning my interview with Bernard “Lefty” Kreh, despite his fly fishing celebrity status, begins like a conversation with an old friend.  Immediately warm and friendly, Lefty jumps right in and tells me about all the redfish he caught on a recent trip to Louisiana:  “God was good to us. Some of the most pleasant days I’ve had.”

At 89, Lefty Kreh is still one of the busiest people you’ll meet.  Between now and the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, he will be giving casting clinics in the keys, has a magazine column to write, plus hundreds of emails to answer.  He’ll be sneaking in some fishing on the side, too, I imagine.  Lefty grew up in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay and began fishing for sustenance to help feed his family.  However, he didn’t learn to fly fish until he came back from World War II in 1947.  He was 21.  Hooked immediately (pun intended), he proceeded to rack up seventy years of fly fishing experience and expertise, which he’ll share with Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival goers. Lefty has multiple television and documentary appearances under his belt, and is a celebrated photographer.  He is the author of countless articles, columns and books, including what is now fondly referred to as the saltwater fly fishing Bible, Fly Fishing in Salt Water.  When I ask why saltwater fly fishing is his drug of choice, he quickly responds, “Nobody ever had a heart attack catching a trout!”

Lefty Kreh Fly Fishing - Oysters and Pearls

Lefty loves to fish for Bonefish. “You’re moving all the time, whether wading or in a boat.  It’s quiet and serene, but you can enjoy it with someone else, too.  If you do something wrong, it’s okay.  You use light tackle, you don’t have to fight one for half an hour, and it involves doing something quickly and accurately.  I’ve caught over 120 [varieties of] fish on the fly rod, and I’d rather catch a bonefish than any other kind.”  His favorite place to fish for Bonefish is in Las Roques, a small group of rocky islands off the coast of northeastern Venezuela.  Despite the difficulty in accessing this special fishing hole, Lefty assures me that it’s worth the effort.  “It’s a bit hostile down there right now.  The government is about as friendly as an alarm clock.  But big fish are coming in from deep water and there are very few people there fishing for them.”

As a new fly fisher(wo)man myself, I ask Lefty what his best piece of advice for me would be.  “Learn to cast! If you can’t shoot, you can’t hunt.”  He clarifies his advice further:  “In freshwater fishing you can get away with a poor cast, but in salt water, everything is getting eaten by something bigger, so each fish is ready to disappear at a moment’s notice.  You may have five to eight seconds to make an accurate cast before the fish is gone.  Learning to cast properly is your most important tool in fly fishing.”

After more fish tales and advice, Lefty really starts to roll.  He tells me about his kryptonite, the Golden Dorado.  Lefty made several trips into the Amazon to fish for the Dorado, but inclement weather and other circumstances got between him and the elusive fish.  “It’s the only fish I ever wanted to catch and couldn’t.”  Lefty  advises me that only three flies are truly necessary when saltwater fly fishing: a well-done poppin’ bug, a well-designed clouser minnow, and a Lefty’s deceiver (his own design, naturally).  These three would enable one to fish inshore, offshore, and catch most of the fish one would be after most of the time.  The clouser was designed by his good friend Bob Clouser, who lives 45 minutes north of Lefty and is a good fishing buddy.  “It’s great for redfish, by the way,” Lefty adds.

Fly Tying Quote from International Fly Fishing Museum in Livingston, Montana | Oysters & Pearls

And speaking of fishing buddies, Lefty names his son Larry, and Tom Brokaw as his two very best fishing partners.  “Tom is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”  They first met when Brokaw interviewed Lefty for his book, The Greatest Generation, and the two formed an immediate bond.  A true hero even without his fishing credits, Lefty was in the Battle of the Bulge, fought in the trenches throughout the war and was there for the liberation of several concentration camps.  Lefty eventually became godfather to Brokaw’s son.

Bringing up politics and war starts Lefty down another path.  He is less than thrilled with politicians in general.  “You can quote me on this! My personal opinion of most but not all politicians is that they’re like bananas.  When they first get into office, they’re green.  Then they’re yellow, then they turn rotten!”  This leads into a lively story that involves Fidel Castro and Ernest Hemingway.  About two weeks after the Cuban revolution, Castro hired Joe Brooks, the most famous fly fisherman and outdoor writer of that time, to bring along Lefty to fish all over Cuba and come back to the States to write about it.  The trip included the 14th Annual Hemingway Marlin Tournament.  “Hemingway was there,” Lefty says.  But Lefty spent the first three days observing Castro himself fishing.  “I thought he was a very nice guy.  I really liked him.  I’ve been there seven or eight times over the years, and everyone there is just so nice.”  Lefty spent the next couple of days on Hemingway’s boat, which conjures up images of seaside cocktails and fellow writers trading stories and fish tales.  However, Lefty said he was far more interested in Hemingway’s first mate, who Hemingway himself declared the best bill fisherman he knew.  Lefty stuck to him like a fly in a fish’s mouth and gleaned all the information he could.

Lefty Kreh with Barracuda - Oysters and Pearls

Eventually, Lefty and Ernest (Lefty and Hemingway were on a first name basis) got to discussing hunting, more fishing, and their third common love: writing.  Lefty knew Hemingway had “sold a lot of books,” so he asked him: “Ernest, how do you tell good writing?”  Hemingway paused for a moment before responding with what Lefty describes as the best answer he has ever heard.  “It can’t be edited.”

Lefty not only writes, but he speaks and hosts clinics for fly fisherman all over the world.  He will be speaking at the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival right here in Thomasville and swears by this philosophy: “Never display your knowledge, you only share it.” Ever humble and eager to teach, Lefty shares his knowledge with humor and quick wit.  He will be sharing his fish tales and fly casting demonstrations, along with tips for outdoor photography with point-and-shoot cameras, iPhones and iPads with PWAF attendees. However, Lefty did have a couple points of advice for ourTownie readers to improve their outdoor photography: 1) when taking of pictures of people, say “Talk to me,” instead of “Cheese.”  You’ll get genuine smiles, reactions, and near candid images with true personalities shining through; 2) use an inexpensive polarized filter placed in front of your camera lens (even iPhones!) to eliminate glare and make colors brighter and truer.  Both are excellent tips for beginner or avid photographers!

Lefty Kreh will be a part of the “Wildlife Conversations” series at the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.  You can get your tickets ($15 for adults, $5 for children) at www.pwaf.org.  Don’t miss it!

Until Next Time

Fly Fishing in Paradise Valley

It’s finally time to wrap up the wrap up of our trip to Montana and Yellowstone National Park.  After we left the Park, we headed out the North Entrance, through Gardiner and on toward Emigrant, Montana in Paradise Valley.  When we left off, we had happy hour’ed on the Yellowstone River, ate a gluttonous, delicious dinner at Chico Hot Springs Resort, and retired to our room at the Paradise Gateway B&B.

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We woke up the next morning bright and early for a guided full-day fly fishing trip on the Yellowstone River.  Wheat booked this trip ahead of time through Montana Angler, a service recommended to him by his uncle.  We can’t recommend them enough!

We met our guide at a fly fishing shop in Emigrant, purchased fishing licenses and a few supplies, and followed him to a nearby boat landing.  As I mentioned before, as luck would have it, our guide, Doug Casey (definitely ask for him if you ever go!), was our age and from Snellville, Georgia, so we got along just fine.

We began with some parking lot lessons in casting with a fly rod, which I had never done before.  After a few tries and Doug getting the boat ready, we were off.  No motors are allowed on the rivers in the area, so the boats seat two, plus the guide, who paddles and navigates the (occasionally treacherous) waters.  I told Doug that the rednecks back home would have none of that nonsense – we would have trolling motors on those boats quicker than you could say, “catfish.”

Brown Trout on the Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

We had an absolute blast all day, catching a ton of fish and getting the hang of fly fishing.  We both caught a ton of whitefish, and Wheat caught a cutthroat trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout!  I ended up catching everything but a cutthroat trout.  It was SO MUCH FUN, and so different from the fishing I’m used to doing.

I (like everyone else I’ve told about our trip, apparently) wanted to know what a whitefish was, exactly.  Doug explained that the gray and white fish is a relative of trout, but it isn’t as tasty.  Smoked, however, it’s really good.  He found it funny that I promptly dubbed it the “Mullet of Montana.”

Wheat with Trout on Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

Natalie with a Trout Caught Fly Fishing on the Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

In addition to the fishing being fun, the scenery down the 14 miles of river through Paradise Valley was unbelievable.  This is the area where A River Runs Through It with a very young Brad Pitt was filmed.  It’s gorgeous.

Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

Trout on the Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

Trout on the Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

Trout Caught on the Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

Wheat with a Trout Caught on the Yellowstone River | Oysters & Pearls

Fly Fishing for Trout | Oysters & Pearls

Natalie of Oysters & Pearls with a Trout Caught on the Yellowstone River  | Oysters & Pearls

Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana | Oysters & Pearls

This stitched quote from A River Runs Through It was hanging in our B&B, so it seems appropriate to end on this note.  This was my absolute favorite part of our vacation, I think.  I can’t wait to get better at fly fishing and go back!

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Until Next Time

What to Pack for a September Trip to Yellowstone

What to Pack for Yellowstone in September

I googled this exact phrase a few weeks ago in hopes of finding a little guidance.  September  weather in Montana and Wyoming goes from 20 degrees at night to 80 degrees during the day, with hotter and colder days, too.  It could be snowing, it could be sunny.  I ended up being very grateful I packed certain things, while wishing I had left some items in my suitcase at home.  I hope that what I learned will help anyone else heading out West in September.

What to Pack: Yellowstone in September
I know this is nothing revolutionary, but I brought far too many clothes and only ended up wearing little more than what’s in this picture during our week-long trip.
–  1 pair of jeans (my absolute favorite from Bow & Arrow Apparel)
–  2 pairs of Under Armour Women’s UA Cozy Tight (they doubled as leggings under my dress, as well as for    hiking/fishing)
– 1 pair of boots (I really want these: FRYE Women’s Melissa Button Riding Boot)
– 1 vest
– 1 puffer jacket
– 1 long sleeved Under Armour shirt
– 3 work out tanks
– 3 nice shirts to wear with jeans
– 1 scarf
– 1 sun hat (also from Bow & Arrow Apparel)
– minimal jewelry

– And last, but absolutely not least: a Bandaid Blister Block stick.  This is essential.  If you aren’t already on the blister stick bandwagon, you rub this stick in places you think you might get blisters and it prevents them.  It’s magic.  Obviously, the first place you think of are your feet, and this is a life saver when breaking in a new pair of shoes (hiking or otherwise).  However, I used it to keep from getting blisters where my backpack was rubbing my arms, as well.  It was essential and I never leave home without one of these in my purse.

I do realize that this is a very short list, but aside from toiletries and unmentionables, it’s all I would take if I had it to do over again.  We try to carry-on all our luggage whenever humanly possible, and we did for this trip, too.  Pack light! The rest of the stuff I brought just took up room in my suit case.  These are all really versatile items, and I wore everything more than once.  We weren’t exactly roughing it, but it was not a luxury vacation, either.
Oh, and I brought along my knitting to pass the time in the airport.  Maybe next time I can wear the scarf I knitted on this trip!
Fly Fishing on the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley |Oysters & Pearls
Until Next Time