Tag Archives: Redfish

#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

Tarpon Fishing with Emerald Shoals Excursions

THE PERSON

Tucker Strickland runs Emerald Shoals Excursions out of Carrabelle.  The son of a fly fishing guide, Tucker grew up on these waters.  Specializing in sight casting to Tarpon and Redfish, Tucker has been helping anglers from all over the world catch the big one for seven years now.   While primarily based out of Carrabelle, Tucker also follows the Redfish to Louisiana later on in the year.

Tucker, Fly Fishing Tarpon Guide, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

EMERALD SHOALS

 Wheat and I were lucky enough to count ourselves in those numbers a couple of weeks ago.  We arrived bright and early on the most beautiful morning.  It was perfect for in-shore fishing and sight casting: the water was like glass.  And if you’re thinking that “Carrabelle” and “Emerald Shoals” don’t quite match up, the pictures in this post should sufficiently disprove your theory.

Lanark Village, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

Lauren of LGDunston on their Family Dock in Lanark  | Oysters & Pearls

The View from Lanark Village | Oysters & Pearls

THE BAIT

Tucker first took us over to catch some bait.  That man throws a pretty cast net.  And can drive the boat with his foot at the same time.  It’s truly impressive.  He did ask his bride to drive a couple times, though. ;)

Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) and Lauren (LGDunston Gyotaku) In Their Element | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls

THE FISH

After we caught what Tucker deemed a sufficient amount of bait fish, we switched over to what we came for: fishing.  We started hooking Trout right off the bat.

  Lauren (LGDunston) Fishes with Husband Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) | Oysters & Pearls Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) with a Salt Water Trout | Oysters & Pearls Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) with a Salt Water Trout | Oysters & Pearls Wheat with a Saltwater Trout he Caught on an Emerald Shoals Excursion | Oysters & Pearls

Then Tucker’s wife Lauren (of LGDunston Gyotaku Fish Prints – you’ll meet her more thoroughly in the next post) caught a Flounder that she thought she might demonstrate a gyotaku fish print with for us.  It didn’t end up working out, mainly because this Flounder looked like what my father, the good Doctor, likes to call “groceries.”

Lauren of LGDunston, Fishing with Husband Tucker of Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Flounder, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Flounder, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Tucker with a Flounder, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Next up: more big, beautiful trout.

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

The family that fishes together, stays together.

Lauren of LGDunston, Poses with her Trout and her Husband, Owner of Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

 Afterwards we headed all the way around remote Dog Island to St. George Island.  Here, we sight casted to some Bluefish and Redfish, which was pretty awesome.  We caught a couple more good trout, too.

A fish straight out of the water is truly a thing of beauty, and something I’m grateful to say I get to see fairly often.  I know Tucker and Lauren consider themselves fortunate to get to do it daily.

This Trout Wheat caught is an excellent example.

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Close-Up of Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tucker and I both caught a couple really pretty Redfish here.  Now that is a fun fish to catch!  Not to mention beautiful.  The spots on their tails are all unique, and their pale pink undertones get after this fish-loving girl’s heart.

Sight-Casted Redfish, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Redfish Spot, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Redfish Face, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Natalie of Oysters & Pearls, Posing with the Redfish She Caught, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

THE BIG ONE

Finally, Tucker took us over to the Tarpon Flats.  Not many people even know it, but there is world class Tarpon fishing here in the Panhandle.  And with a guide like Tucker, you are setting yourself up for the most exciting catch-of-the-day ever.

Tucker Fly Fishing for Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tucker is a pro, but as long as you can fly fish, he will guide you right down to when to throw your fly and where.  He can predict exactly where the fish will be, on which side of the boat, and will let you know when you’ve got your “shot” and where to put it.  He likens Tarpon fishing to deer hunting: you wait around in a spot you know they like to come, and then you’ve got one shot at them.  We didn’t have to wait too long before Tucker got a shot, and it was quite possibly the most fun I’ve had while fishing and not catching a fish ever.  He hooked a Tarpon on his fly in short order, and while the rest of us watched in awe, this 80-pound dinosaur jumped, rolled, and generally showed off.

Tarpon Jumping - Emerald Shoals Fishing Excursions  Oysters & Pearls.jpg Tucker Hooks a Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions  Oysters & Pearls.jpg Tucker Fighting a Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions  Oysters & Pearls.jpg

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Even if you don’t fly fish, (or even fish at all!) one trip like this makes you want to learn.  The thrill in the air is palpable. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…

THE END

We called it a day after the Tarpon broke the tip of Tucker’s fly rod.  Even so, it was a fair catch, since Tucker got the leader to the tip of his fly rod before the breaking occurred.  He tried to get in the water with him, but the Tarpon went under the boat and that was that.  We headed in for some cocktails and a meal of freshly caught Trout, some fresh shrimp, grits, and homegrown veggies from Lauren’s garden.  (She claims to be best at catching vegetables, leaving most of the fishing to Tucker.)

View from Lanark Village, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Fresh Shrimp, Fish, Grits, and Homegrown Veggies,  LGDunstion Gyotaku Fish Prints | Oysters & Pearls Fresh Shrimp, Fish, Grits, and Homegrown Veggies,  LGDunstion Gyotaku Fish Prints | Oysters & Pearls Who Knew Fried Shrimp Heads Were Such a Delicacy? LGDunston and Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Remember these shrimp: You’ll be seeing them again tomorrow.

Thank you so much to Tucker and Lauren for an amazing day on the water!

 Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

GO FISH

Want a Tarpon fishing thrill of your own?

Book a trip with Tucker at Emerald Shoals Excursions

And tell him I sent ya! ;)

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Until Next Time