This post is a memory of my first encounter with the name Lefty Kreh in the mid 1990’s.
Oh to be 23 again, nope. Not for me. Except if I were in L.L. Bean wishing and hoping to win a door prize at the annual Fishing expo. It was the year I was learning to fly fish and I had the essential outfit so far minus the waders and it was March. The fishing season was upon us and I am so full of hope that I went to L.L.Bean not to buy waders but to win them. Seriously, I am that full of stinking hope at 24.
I was teaching music for the first time in a long term sub position for a teacher that was on maternity leave and I was as grateful as a person gets. I had earned paychecks before that I saved and paid for college with but NEVER any play money. Not a cent. This time, I could actually pay rent AND eat. Novel idea. I had really taken a plunge when I bought the rod, reel, line 6 weight outfit and was looking forward to Maine’s opening day of fishing season on April first.
March is cold, and even though the old saying says that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, it often stays in the lion mode for most if not all of the month in Maine. In the March I describe it was a windy one with snow on the ground. As I ride in to Bean’s with my new fly fishing friends from the school that I work with I ask lots of questions about fly fishing and they tell me all they can to satisfy my curiosity. When we arrive I tell them how much I want to win waders so we plan to meet back after the door prizes are drawn and drive back to Gorham.
I’m sure those friends tried to tell me that my chances were slim, but ever hopeful, or ever bent on what I have tunnel vision for, we stayed for the drawing with just a few people present. I thought lots of people went for the same purpose as I but evidently more people go to L.L. Bean to spend money. Well, the drawing took place, and I won. I didn’t win waders and I was disappointed, but as my fly fishing friend Pat pointed out, only you won a Lefty Kreh fly.
“People collect those,” He said.
“Hang on to that,” my friend told me.
I looked at it, flipped it over to see that it is signed, and wondered if I would take up saltwater fly fishing too so that I could put that fly to use.
“Hey Pat, who is this guy Bernard “Lefty” Kreh?” I ask.
Pat, like a good educator, gives that look that expresses, “there are no dumb questions,” raised one eyebrow, then looked as if to say, but REALLY?!? I dutifully put the fly in a special spot to hold onto like Pat said. I put it in one of those, you know, one of those special places so you won’t forget where you put it in case you need it one day, places. Yeah, I lost it.
I found it about ten years later, lost it again, but now have it in a box marked “Fly Fishing Treasures.” I chuckle every time I see or hear Lefty’s name and think about that fly that I was disappointed in winning yet now treasure. Funny thing about perspective- it changes.
RIP Lefty and thanks for the memories, a token fly that gives me a point to reflect on as I grow as an angler, a fly tyer, but most importantly as a person.