By Rod Harrison
Lefty Kreh was many things to many people. Friend, fishing mate, mentor, coach, companion, writer, presenter, persona of awe, and the most un-selfish bloke I’ve known, Those who knew the man, too many to count you can be sure, are left with memories that will abide - a life fully lived by a man who gave much more than he ever took.
There was no silver spoon in Lefty’s upbringing. He fished and hunted to help out with the family larder and enlisted at the outbreak of World War 11. His unit suffered horrific combat casualties before liberating some Nazi concentration camps.
Back in civilian life he worked as a demonstration shooter for Remington, plinking aspros with a BB gun at county fairs. The same razor reflexes and equally sharp wit were part of a fishing package he took to Florida.
There he made a splash – on tarpon and bonefish with casts that defied gravity, on paper with informative and entertaining writings, and in the flesh with a trademark how-to and why presentations package, punctuated with hilarious one-liners.
Lefty stories are legion. One that sounded about right was the time the White House called – the presidential copter was on the way to whisk Lefty away to Camp David. The President was going fishing and needed to brush up on his fly casting. The chopper arrived the next day; Lefty had arranged to take his grandson fishing.
And this firsthand account, a time on an ongo-bongo river in New Guinea. I’d talked-up the fish we call the black bass as the toughest there were. It’s actually a river dwelling member of the worldwide Lutjanid family, noted pullers all. Lefty nodded but couldn’t hide the twinkle in the eye of a man who’d seen it all – well, most of it.
He cast into the tangled remains of a sunken jungle hardwood. A vicious strike bent the hook and left a line burn as if he’d grabbed a Jedi sword. A re-rig full of shortcuts saw him back in business, and in yet another gob smack demonstration of stuff one can’t learn on the casting paddock, the instant the fish struck he wrapped the fly line around the rear of the reel seat…the stop-em-or-pop-em technique in one simple manoeuvre.
Lefty’s friendship came with an unspoken covenant – at least that’s my interpretation of an expectation that knowledge gained would be knowledge shared. And ones dealings in the minefield of making a living from fishing remain ethical.
Lefty’s enduring contributions have been to the fly-fishing world. In short, he’s uncomplicated what others convolute. A recent DVD masterpiece is the Everest among the Himalaya of material on casting… the distilled essence; easy to digest, highly entertaining. And much more, where the odd hummock exists on what to do when the fly hits the water, Lefty (and co-host Ed Jaworowski) over-deliver by a sierra.
Through times when others his age sat in rocking chairs on a quiet veranda, Lefty kept pace with a demanding schedule until health issues finally caught up. It hasn’t been until his flame finally extinguished itself that one realizes how brightly it burned.
Your were a blessing in my life Lefty and will forever be missed but always remembered. Rest in piece mate.
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