Lefty Kreh shares common-sense fishing tips at Trout Unlimited event
Tips and techniques: world-famous angler Lefty Kreh will host a seminar and casting demos at the Cabin Fever fly fishing expo.
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When one of the most famous fisherman in the world talks, anglers listen.
So when Lefty Kreh says he gets more catch-and-release enjoyment by taking better fish pictures, it's time to consider the common cell phone camera an important piece of fishing gear.
On Saturday, Kreh will talk about snap-and-release fishing during a sold-out banquet dinner hosted by Penn's Woods West Trout Unlimited. Next Sunday, at TU's Cabin Fever fly fishing expo in Marshall, Kreh will offer two fly casting demos and a seminar in which he'll share decades of fishing tips.
Since the early 1950s, Kreh has written about freshwater and saltwater fishing in books and most of the major outdoors magazines, once documenting a fishing tournament that pitted Ernest Hemingway and Fidel Castro against the white marlin. He originated the Deceiver-style saltwater fly, served as a senior adviser to Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, and was presented lifetime achievement awards by the American Sportfishing Association and North American Fly Tackle Trade Association. In 2003, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Raised a few hours southeast of Pittsburgh in Frederick, Md., he's fished Steelhead Alley since the start of the rainbow and salmon stocking programs and has pulled native trout from Pennsylvania's cool limestone waters. He recalls driving his Model A Ford to the Hunt Armory in Shadyside in the 1950s to give indoor shooting and casting exhibitions, and he later led outdoors tours for a Wexford travel agency.
Now in his late 80s, Kreh still keeps a busy schedule, but he's not too busy to find time for fishing. Getting "proper photos of fish" is easier now than ever, he said, and does not have to be expensive or complicated.
"This is as nontechnical as you can get," he said, "good for anybody who takes photos with a cell phone, iPad, point-and-shoot or advanced camera."
Most anglers know that polarized sunglasses reduce glare on the water. In the same way, shooting pictures through an inexpensive polarizing filter cuts the haze when fish are pulled out of the water, providing more vibrant views of their colors and the happy angler's big smile.
In a low-tech application of high technology, Kreh simply holds a screw-in camera filter between his cellphone camera lens and the fish.
"You buy a small polarizing filter for $5 on eBay and point the camera through it," he said. "Just like that. It can increase the intensity of all the colors in the rainbow. It's how to take better pictures of your kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, or just good pictures of your fish before you release them. It's that easy. I've said it for years, common sense ain't common."
To release the fish healthy, however, it's important to snap that picture quickly. Kreh said experiments on live fish show that holding a fish out of water for more than 15 seconds induces health-threatening stress.
"Just landing a fish puts it through a lot of stress. It releases a stress hormone and all the other fish sense it and know something's going on," he said. "If they're up current they're never going to know, but if they're below they'll know there's something wrong. Sometimes, you catch two or three fish that run around in a pool, you almost have to go to another pool because you've alerted all the fish in there."
All that splashing around during the fight can also alert other fish of danger, he said, as the lateral line picks up unusual vibrations in the water.
Among the items Kreh plans to cover during his Cabin Fever "fishing tips" talk is his perception of the unique nature of coldwater fishing.
"Most predators go to their food, but in coldwater fishing, salmon, steelhead and trout are stationary most of the time. The food moves to them in the current," he said. "The trick is you have to move the fly to them like nature would do it."
Kreh sees it as a patient battle of wits, a challenge between angler and fish.
"Trout fishing is like a chess game," he said. "You walk up to the stream, read the water. Where are the fish? What are they eating? You go into your fly box and pull something out that you tied. First cast, the water is slower along the bank -- you have to put all of your slack in 2 feet to get a good drift. Next cast, you have to put your slack across the current in a way that won't drag your fly. You're playing a game with the fish, one step at a time."
And finally -- suddenly -- a tight line, a hook firmly set and a lot of fun.
Cabin Fever speakers
A fundraiser for Penn's Woods West Trout Unlimited, the Cabin Fever fly fishing expo is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. next Sunday at Four Points by Sheraton Pittsburgh North (910 Sheraton Drive, Mars, 724-776-6900). $10, kids 12 and under free. Free parking.
The expo includes 60-plus exhibitors, raffles, fly tying and casting demonstrations, a fly fishing flea market, food vendors and more.
Speakers: Lefty Kreh, casting demonstrations 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and fishing tips 11 a.m. Fish and Boat Commission executive director John Arway on current fishing issues at noon.
First Published February 17, 2013 12:00 am