An Open Letter from Lefty

Lefty Kreh

I found this posted on The FlyFishing Forum. Lefty Kreh updates us on his health. While he says he might be around for a few more years, and I certainly hope so, it certainly feels as if this is the end of his public life. A truly amazing man.

To my friends,

I was 92 in January and had a carotid artery operation. During testing the hospital determined my heart was only pumping 35% and must limit my physical activities followed by a rest. The industry was extremely helpful and last season was able to attend the shows, clinics, etc.

Several weeks ago, I realized I was developing another problem, which is normal for someone nearly 93. It turns out I have congested heart failure. My pacemaker revealed there was a series of very rapid hear beats, which could cause a stroke. Fortunately a lot of doctor/friends are fly-fisherman and worked with me. In summary I have to give up travel and presentations as in the past.

Everyone produces a certain amount of fluid in the body and excretes the excess. Because of the low heartbeat my body is not getting rid of all the fluids and I gained weight. My best friend Dr. Mark Lamos put me in the hospital and with back procedure they twice removed a liter and a half of fluid from my chest. After five days in the hospital. I lost weight.

A week or so later I starting gaining weight again so it was back in the hospital for the same treatment. They reduced most of the fluid and returned home. I determined I was not going to continue back to the hospital. Mark decided to use medicine to control the excess fluid. It’s been a fine-tuning situation but looks like it’s starting work.

This means the schedule I lived for decades is no longer valid and will spend most my time at home. As we get older we learn to adjust to what we can and cannot do. I have a number of interesting computer home projects on the computer and busier than a Syrian bricklayer. I’m not frustrated and I’m content My problem is I don’t have a lot of stamina and have to work around that. If Marks medical system works I should be busy and around for a year or two.

I would like to be able to send this email to my friends but I don’t really know how to do this. So I’m asking others to help me spread the word through email. Because my lack of energy and stamina I having trouble answering emails (there are more than 400 on the computer) and not talking much on the phone. This is not meant to be unfriendly is learning to adjuster my situation.

In summary I’m busy and content but I want you to know I am so appreciative you’ve have shared your lives with me.

All The Best Friends,

Orvis 50/50 Campaign

Orvis 50/50 Campaign

Women make up only 30% of fly fishers according to the 2017 Special Report on Fishing published by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. Orvis has set out to change that. Its new 50/50 campaign has set a target of 50 percent participation by women in fly fishing by 2020.

Leading off with more fishing apparel, wading gear and boots sized for women, and women-specific events, Orvis has made a commitment to match its campaign goals.

I recognize this is enlightened self-interest. More women in fly fishing means more potential sales for Orvis, particularly when their events highlight their gear. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with enlightened self-interest.

Bringing more women into the sport will benefit everyone – gear makers, guide services, lodges, and so on. At the same time, more women in the sport will mean change will be required to accommodate them. Hear that, disheveled tobacco-chewing guides?

Further, more voices for conservation of wild places helps everyone. This is becoming more critical given the current administration’s policies and priorities.

I once got to watch Molly Semenik teach an introduction to fly fishing for women. For those who don’t know her, Molly is on the Casting Board of Governors of Fly Fishers International – the leading organization for certifying casting instructors. I was struck by the difference in terms of how Molly approached teaching versus some sessions I’ve been in taught by men. More voices like Molly’s are needed to continue growing the sport.

This is a great initiative. Well done Orvis.

Misplaced Outrage

I had been having an internal debate on my road trip as to whether I should write something on the protests of NFL players when the shooting occurred in Las Vegas. As it is, I think I want to now say something about both issues.

First on the protests. It probably needs to be said as a reminder that the purpose of the protests was to protest racism and police violence against young black men. There was, as a result of the superficial reporting that didn’t put the protests into context, the predictable howls of outrage that such protests “disrespect” the flag and the national anthem and all members of the military. I won’t even go into my feelings again about how ignorant the use of disrespect as a verb sounds to me.

The song and the piece of cloth are symbols of this country and all it should represent. But the claim that they represent freedom and the protests are not respectful of that freedom seems to me to confuse cause and effect.

The freedoms we have exist precisely due to protest.

First, what began as protests led to the revolution and ultimately to the US Constitution that formed the legal structure of the republic. The Bill of Rights (as a reminder, the first ten amendments of the Constitution) were adopted due to protests of the anti-Federalists. The increasing protests over many, many decades led to the right of women and minorities to vote – not to mention a Civil War that freed black Americans from legalized slavery. Other protests led to increased rights and protections for American workers. Still other protests led to the rights of the gay and lesbian communities.

Protest – even more than gun rights (see below) – are part of the fundamental genes of this country.

As should be clear, the freedom and willingness to protest is what enables progress. And if something is wrong, it is the highest form of patriotism to protest.

One final point on this issue. I think it’s important that whenever those in authority speak of patriotism and the need for people to show their gratitude for the freedoms we have, it’s wise to pay attention to what freedoms they’re actually trying to take away.

Now to where the real outrage should exist.

Another city, another mass murder. How can anyone be surprised? In spite of the well meaning but facile commentary on various television and radio shows – how could this have been unexpected?

Columbine. Fort Hood. Aurora. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. Roseburg. Orlando. Las Vegas. And others I’ve forgotten.

Where’s the outrage that as a society we have become numb – except in the immediate aftermath of each shooting – to the ongoing slaughter?

Where’s the outrage that I heard some former police official speak of this as the new normal?

Each time the identity of the shooter or shooters become important so the news media can label the cause of the shooting as terrorism, mental illness or unexplained. But does it really matter to the victims, their family and friends?

Where’s the outrage at Congresses over the last two decades that can only offer “thoughts and prayers” and “moments of silence”?

Where’s the outrage that the Centers for Disease Control have been prohibited for the last 20 years from studying the relationship between guns and violence?

Where’s the outrage that many hide behind the Second Amendment, claiming it gives them the right to own high-caliber military-grade weapons? And I’m not specifically addressing the AR-15/M4 platform used in many of the mass shootings. I’m talking about owning Barrett sniper rifles that can kill at 1800 meters that are sold in some gun shops.

I’ve heard on radio and television many of the arguments for the intent of the Second Amendment. Many have been led to believe the founding fathers put that in the Constitution to ensure the overthrow of a government in case it began to oppress the people. One caller I heard on Sirius said it was put in to ensure that people would be able to fight back in the event of the rise of socialistic communist government.

Where’s the outrage that we have an educational system that doesn’t educate on the founding documents of this republic?

The truth is the Second Amendment was adopted at the insistence of the southern states to ensure they could form state militias to put down slave revolts. It said nothing about individual citizens owning Barrett sniper rifles.

The Second Amendment is an anachronism and should be repealed. But that will likely never happen. Even if it were it would change little.

Gun ownership is not dependent upon the Second Amendment. National, state, and local laws would allow individuals to own weapons for hunting, sport shooting or self defense as is true in a number of countries. And yes it would still allow some to use those weapons for homicide or suicide.

Confiscation is never going to happen no matter what the NRA and a hard-core minority say.

And I don’t think it’s desirable in any case. There are legitimate reasons and purposes for gun ownership. However, I remain unconvinced that civilians need anything more than shotguns, bolt or lever action rifles, and revolvers for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting, and self defense.

In the end, writing this is just a waste of time as nothing is going to happen except the next inevitable massacre.

From a long history of wars and military expeditions to sports violence to the never ending (and ever growing) war on terror, we have become a militarized society that celebrates violence. Popular entertainment promotes violence as solving every problem – whether in an hour on television or several hours in movies. The “warrior hero” is celebrated as the paragon of a society that sees itself as exceptional and indispensable.

And behind it all are the manufacturers of weapons and war; the manufacturers of propaganda labeled as entertainment; the philosophers and preachers of American exceptionalism; and their paid whores in Congress and national media. And they have chosen our god for us.

Thanatos – the Greek god of death – is our civic god. And that choice will lead to violent death for many, many more.

As I said in a previous post, I only hope no one I know is involved in a coming massacre. And I feel outraged saying that.

Return to the Henry’s Fork

As part of a visit to my son and his family in Bozeman, I decided I needed to make a slight detour and fish the Henry’s Fork again.

The trip out from Gig Harbor was sunny and mild with hours of easy driving – I like long road trips in general and road trip days like that in particular. The only disappointment along the way was the lack of autumn colors; most trees were still green. As I dropped into Silver Bow Creek valley to spend the night in Butte I did notice the snow on the distant ranges.

The next day I spent two hours driving over Montana highways along both the Jefferson and Madison rivers making my way through Ennis and ultimately Island Park. Stopping at Henry’s Fork Anglers (HFA), I picked up a few dry flies and drove to my favorite place – Wood River Road.

Jefferson River Montana

Arriving at the river, I noticed fish sipping the surface and hurriedly got into my waders and rigged up my rod. HFA had suggested blue-winged olives and mahogany duns as flies and I selected a blue-winged olive size 16 to start.

I got at least two brief tugs indicating fish had taken the fly – only to spit it out before I could react. That was a bit disappointing, at least until I talked to a couple of other guys working the river who said the same thing. So either the fish weren’t very hungry or after a summer of being chased by fly fishers along they were very discriminating.

Wood River Road Henrys Fork

The wind began to pick up – the temperature was in the low 50’s – and I got a bit cold. I had brought my Patagonia Rio Azul waders and left my much-warmer Simms G4Zs at home. Unfortunately I had neither my winter wading pants or long underwear. So after lack of success with dry flies, I switched to a nymph and did a bit of wet-fly swinging. But no fish was interested.

Packing up I made my way back to Island Park to spend the night in the Angler’s Lodge. It is a beautiful wooden lodge on the banks of the Henry’s Fork. There’s nothing like looking out the window and seeing a river outside. The sunset made a perfect ending to the day.

Anglers Lodge Sunset, Island Park

Next day up and early and back to Wood River road. This time I had the area to myself. Low 40s and no wind made for pleasant time in the water; that required ignoring how cold my legs were.

As I did the previous day, I rigged up another dry fly – this time a size 18 Mahogany dun. Unfortunately, there were no fish sipping the surface. Looking around, I saw no hatch in progress as expected. HFA had said the hatch was occurring between 11AM and 4PM. I still thought I might find a hungry trout.

Two tugs later I had the same experience as yesterday: a quick bite and then release.

I kept at it for another couple of hours until I had to leave to get to Bozeman at the time I said I’d be there. Fortunately, I had time to stop in West Yellowstone and get lunch at Bullwinkles.

After a day and a half of a very pleasant visit – I follow Ben Franklin’s observation that guests like fish begin to stink in three days, it was time to drive home. The previous two days forecasts had predicted widespread snow for my day’s drive and I was particularly concerned about the drive over Homestake Pass.

As it turned out, the snow was delayed by 12 hours, Homestake Pass only had a bit of snow on the sides of the road and I had only snow flurries in the area west of Butte. Still, it was a good reminder: winter is coming.

Looking back at the fishing, I think I understood that I really didn’t know as much about dry fly fishing as I should. Out here on Puget Sound, blind casting wet flies to searun cutthroat trout and resident Coho, presentation and fly preparation aren’t generally a big issue.

But dry fly fishing requires a more in depth understanding of trout behavior and insect hatches as well as a good deal more refinement in presentation casting. Thinking about all that’s involved I can understand the obsessiveness that dry fly fishing can engender. I do think the next trip back will require a day with a guide to get more insights into dry fly fishing.