This is where this dry-fly guy gets emotional...I will try to keep this brief and add to it as called for...
If you are unaware of the Letort near Carlisle I suggest you start with Ernie Schwiebert's short stories, "Legend and the Letort" & "Letort Soliloquy". If the names of Vincent Marinaro, Charlie Fox, Ed Shenk, or Ross Trimmer, among others, are unfamiliar to you, you don't know squat about the history of our favorite pastime.
I have always been attracted to the angling masters from the Cumberland Valley and my discussions here on this site about "those Pennsylvania Boys" probably led the modern masters of PA to invite me to their state...
I hope this post may get Eric to speak up a bit here about Big Spring and the Letort and how a young man skipped school and through trial and error learned how to fool the larger fish of these two historic spring creeks.
These streams are bug rich beyond your imagination. Eric pulled a handful of aquatic plant from the stream and it was literally crawling with life. Very large trout move along the edges of this mat of plant life picking bugs off as they go.
My fly fishing mentor is considered, by some, to be the best dry-fly guy in Michigan. Rusty Gates' has told me this nearly every time my frind Bill's name came up. He introduced me to the boys of PA...Most look to the Catskill Traditions in dry-fly history, but Bill and I looked to Vinny first and after, all the others hanging around this area of PA.
Eric and I visited the river a couple times, but most of these photos are from my last day in PA. I was to meet Eric at our favorite breakfast spot, just across the street from the spring that starts the Yellow Breeches (more on that later)...
My wife was visiting her sister and a couple girlfriends in Santa Fe at the same time I was visiting PA,,,I sent her an email message, though I knew she was asleep, that went something like this, "Dear. I'm thinking about pointing the truck towards home today. Feeling a little road weary...Meeting Eric for breakfast and I'm betting you the young man is going to do everything in his power to talk me in to staying and fishing the Letort today...It rained last night and is overcast and there will be olives, no doubt. What do you think the chances are of your husband telling him no? :)"
Need I say more? I stayed with him until 5:00pm when I finally said goodbye to my friend and drove toward Detroit...I pulled up in to my driveway around 1:30 or so in the morning.
The friendships I made this past week will stay with me for the rest of my life...These boys worked hard to spoil me...The few times I was able to put a smile on Eric's face are priceless to me...He was trying so hard! When I caught fish he would beam...I caught him turning away a couple times with a grin on his face I'll never forget. How was I to tell him no?! :)
As soon as we got into fish instant emails were sent to the others that had to head home...They seemed to know what was going on as soon as I did. :)
The picture of me in front of the ancient bridge crossing the Letort is priceless...We stopped there one day to find two sippers working under the bridge...We ran back to the car and strung up our rods and grabbed our vests...We took turns at them and both moved them one time each...We smashed our leader and fly more often against the face of the one lane bridge...Flies I didn't lose in this manner I snagged on trees etc...I went through more than a half dozen flies.
When I was a little guy I fished a stream by my grandmothers and we fished under the highway bridge...I won't tell you how long we dallied here, but needless to say we were late to where we were supposed to be. :)
The Letort is a great deal different than the glory days...Marinaro spoke of the highway 81 being built over it way back when he wrote, "A Modern Dry-Fly Code"...There is a watercress farm upstream that contributed to a fish kill years back...There are warehouses around it and a jogging trail and we even saw a kayak and canoe coming downstream...The two local anglers were stunned and even Eric's wife thought it wasn't right that they were there...I had the feeling that if the PA anglers where not so polite or didn't want to disturb the water more, they would of waded in and tipped those crafts...Marinaro may have shot them.
I can't relate to you how important it was for me to see the Letort...Eric knew this and he wasn't going to let me leave with any regrets...Thank you my friend!
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively
"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood