By Larry Forte
To start my Last Cast, I really enjoyed Dan Neuland’s article about Lefty Kreh. It is a wonderful article. When I first started fly fishing, I knew very little about the man. I had the pleasure of meeting Lefty Kreh at our PVFF banquet many years ago at ThorpeWood, Lefty was the guest speaker and it was an evening to remember. Over the years, I would always enjoy watching Lefty make casting look effortless at various fly-fishing shows. I have also read many of his books.
In June of 2014, our club had the privilege of hosting a “Lefty Kreh Day”. What a very special day it was. After the event, I was fortunate to have dinner with Lefty that night with several other club members and it was an evening I will always remember. No one could tell a story like Mr. Kreh and for 2 hours, we all heard many stories about his life and fly-fishing adventures. The thing that struck me was how genuine and humble the man was.
He will be missed.
Project Healing Waters
For the past few weeks, I have been talking to David Folkerts, the COO of Project Healing Waters (PHW). He approached me during the Holidays and his timing was perfect. I was trying to get in touch with him to see if he would speak at one of meetings this spring. He wanted to see if PVFF would be interested in starting a new PHW Chapter to support the folks at Ft. Detrick.
Project Healing Waters, the National Organization, has over 210 partnership agreements with clubs like ours throughout the US. The goal for each organization is to start and support a PHW program at a military hospital or facility. The organization is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities. It is open to all veterans and not just for men and women who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. David was one of the first on the staff. Plus, he is a PVFF member.
Right now, there is not a program at Ft. Detrick. For the past 5 years, we have been hosting an annual Project Healing Waters event at Otter Camp, near Thurmont. The majority of veterans that attend are from either Walter Reed Medical Center or Ft. Belvoir, VA.
If we decide to do this, our first goal would be to let people know at Ft. Detrick about the new program and recruit participants. In addition, we would start holding monthly meetings (separate from our meetings) for the injured military members or disable veterans with the goal of teaching them fly-fishing. This would include fly tying, fly casting, rod building to name just a few. The organization provides the materials and resources. This is all part of their mental and physical rehabilitation. We just need to provide a room, the ongoing instruction and the volunteers to run the program. David recommends that we have at least 2-3 volunteers’ including a Program Lead and an assistant to the Program Lead. I have talked to a few in the club and am very excited by the response so far. I am confident we can find the volunteers to make this work.
At our May monthly meeting, David will be our guest speaker. He will talk about the program and what’s involved. My hope is that we can find the club volunteers over the next several months to make this a reality.
If you have any interest or would like more information, contact me. I would be happy explain the program in more detail.
Thanks and hope see you at the April Casting Clinic!
Below is an abbreviated timeline of Lefty’s life
Bernard Victor “Lefty” Kreh
1925 – Born in Frederick, Maryland (MD)
1932 – Father, Theodore “Whitey” Kreh, died
1942 – Graduated from Frederick High School
1943 – Entered United States Army
1944 – Fought at Battle of the Bulge, 69th Infantry Division
1945 – Discharged from United States Army when World War II ended
1947 – Started employment at Fort Detrick, MD
1947 – Married Evelyn (honeymooned on the Potomac River)
1947 – First met with outdoor writer and mentor, Joe Brooks who introduced him to fly fishing
1947 – Purchased his first fly rod at Tochterman’s in Baltimore, MD (9 weight – 9 ft. fiberglass South Bend rod and Pflueger Medalist reel and GAF-9 weight line)
1948 – Daughter, Victoria, born
1951 – First outdoor column, “Maryland Afield”, The Frederick News Post
1952 – Son, Larry, born
1964 – Moved to Florida to run the Miami Metropolitan Fishing Tournament
1969 – Started “Florida Sportsman” Magazine
1972 – Moved back to Maryland, buys house in Cockeysville, MD
1973 – Becomes Outdoor Editor for The Baltimore Sunpapers
1991 – Lefty’s Deceiver commemorated in US postage stamp
1992 – Retired from The Baltimore Sunpapers
1997 – Fly Rod & Reel Magazine’s “Angler of the Year”
1997 – Presented the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Elwood K. Harry Fellowship Award
1997 – Presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sportfishing Association
1997 – Inducted into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame
2001 – Inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame
2003 – Inducted into the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Hall of Fame
2004 – Presents first Fly Fishing Merit badge to Boy Scout at the World Fly Fishing Expo
2011 – Wife, Evelyn died
2012 – “Lefty Kreh Fishing Trail” dedicated in his honor, Gunpowder Falls State Park, Hereford, MD
2013 – 1st Annual “Lefty Kreh Tie Fest”, held in his honor, Grasonville, Maryland
2014 – Potomac Valley Fly Fishers hosts “Lefty Kreh Day” at Middletown Community Park
2015 – Presents the American Museum of Fly Fishing “Heritage Award” to good friend, Tom Brokaw
2018 – Lefty Kreh dies peacefully at home of congestive heart failure