Tag Archives: Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival

#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

Lil Moo & Chive Cheese Grits

Sorry for the radio silence yesterday.  It’s been a busy week!

To quickly catch y’all up (kind of), after our Cheese Making 101 Class at Sweet Grass Dairy, we met my parents in town.  They were in Thomasville for the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, which they attend fairly religiously each year.  Check out the key chain they picked up for me!

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Isn’t it perfect?  It’s from Mark Lexton, and if Santa is listening, I would love, love, LOVE an oyster necklace…. Specifically this one… or this one (with a hidden bail)…

Just sayin’.  In case Santa is reading this right now.

Mark Lexton totally counts as a Friday Find today, amiright?

Anyway, they were finished up there and were busy walking around town, checking out the shops.  Wheat and I popped in to The Bookshelf to pick up a South West Georgia Living magazine, which I had discovered at The Bean earlier Saturday morning.  I am really impressed with it and had never heard of it before!  I highly recommend picking one up, if you’re local.  Anyway, then we popped into Grassroots really quickly for Wheat to grab a cuppa joe.  After walking around Toscoga Marketplace and A Different Drummer, we walked down to where else?  The Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop.  Guess we hadn’t gotten our fill!

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We had a happy hour drink and caught up on the day, then moseyed on back to Bainbridge.

Back at home, we cooked some fresh smoked and jalapeño cheese venison sausage from a deer Wheat killed a couple weeks ago.  Wheat had it processed at Jones Meats, and GOSH that sausage was delicious!!  But you know what they say: there are two things you never should see being made: laws and sausage.  And although I have no pictures to show you of this sausage being made, I did try to take a couple pictures of the sausage before we cooked it, and let me tell you: there is no way to make that look appetizing or appropriate.  So we’ll move on.

My dad had a friend turn an old gravel gate from the river into something to cook over a fire years and years (and years!) ago for our camp at Sweetwater.  We never used it there really anymore, so he got his friend to cut it down and add handles to use over our fire pit!  We hadn’t built a fire since last winter, so this was our first chance to use it.  Wheat cooked the sausage over the fire pit, and it was perfect!

Jalapeno Cheese Venison Sausage from Jones Meats | Oysters & Pearls

Before we left the house Saturday morning, I had brined some pork chops for us to have later that night.  I’ve blogged about my pork chop brine before, so I won’t rehash the brine recipe here.  But it makes a plain old pork chop SO juicy and awesome.  I also whipped a stick of room temperature salted butter with some fresh chopped chives for topping the pork chops.  Yum!

Porkchops, Cheese Grits, Collard Greens, & Cornbread- A Perfectly Southern Meal | Oysters & Pearls

My mom brought the collards from home (we usually cook collards in big batches and freeze them in quart bags, which are perfect for just such an occasion), and chives were the theme of the evening, as while the sausage cooked, I made chive and lil moo cheese grits, inspired by this recipe on The Kitchn.

Freshly Cut Chives for Chive & Cheese Grits | Oysters & Pearls

Instead of goat cheese, however, I used some Sweet Grass Dairy Lil Moo fresh cheese.

Grits for Chive and Lil Moo Cheese Grits Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

Chive & Lil Moo Cheese Grits Recipe
adapted from The Kitchn

ingredients

– 2 cups milk (low fat or whole)
– 2 cups water
– 1 cup grits
– 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
– 1/4 teaspoon (a big pinch) freshly ground pepper
– 3 to 4 tablespoons minced chives
– half of a container of Lil Moo fresh cheese (can sub with half a cup (or more) goat cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, whatever cheese your heart desires)

instructions

Bring milk and water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Be really careful, as it’s really easy to let milk boil over!  Just as it starts bubbling, whisk in the grits in a slow but steady pour.  Keep whisking until it starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.  Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot.  Simmer for 40 minutes or so, whisking the grits around every 5 minutes or so to keep them from forming a crispy layer on the bottom of the pan.  Just before serving, mix in the chives, seasoning, and cheese.  If they start to stiffen up or get cold before you can mix the cheese in, add a splash of water or milk and heat them back up.  You can just keep them covered until everything else is ready to go, then mix in cheese and chives.

How to Make Cheese Grits | Oysters & Pearls

Or no chives, and cheddar cheese, or smoked gouda, or whatever you want to do with them.  Toss some shrimp on the side and call it a day, if you must.

Chive & Lil Moo Cheese Grits | Oysters & Pearls

Always let your conscience be your guide.

No shrimp here though.  We had the aforementioned pork chops, collards, and lil moo cheese grits.  And all the plates were cleaned, and all the people were happy.

Porkchops, Cheese Grits, Collard Greens, & Cornbread- A Perfectly Southern Meal | Oysters & Pearls Lil Moo & Chive Cheese Grits, Brined Pork Chop with Herb Butter, & Collard Greens | Oysters & Pearls

And on Sunday –  the main reason my parents spent the night with us Saturday night – Wheat and my dad got up early and built a wood shed!

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Of course, Babe has to christen it properly.

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And the finished product is pretty great!

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It also doubles as a great spot to hang the fire pit grill. :)  It’s nothing fancy, but it sure is nice to have somewhere to put the firewood to keep it dry.  It’s supposed to be an extra cold winter (so says my Daddy and the Farmer’s Almanac), so I’m awfully grateful for it!

In other news, I’m a week behind now, basically, but whatevs.  I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me!  Anybody got any big plans this weekend?  Wheat has big plans for duck hunting, and I have lots and lots of projects on the brain for while he’s out of the house.  Oh, and making pie crusts ahead of time becauseholycowhowisitalreadyThanksgiving!?!?!

On the bright side, that means I’ll have a pie recipe to share with you, and a recipe, aka how to make, collard greens.  Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

And don’t forget to head over to Pink Flamingo Style to check out her favorite things and a chance to enter the Bloggers’ Favorite Things giveaway!  I wrapped my present yesterday, and can’t wait to ship it off to the winner!  Stay tuned to find out the other bloggers’ favorite things (including mine)!

Until Next Time