Fly Life Magazine

Lefty Kreh turns 93, but prefers to celebrate his mentor Joe Brooks

By Dan Rodricks for The Baltimore Sun

Lefty Kreh’s long and celebrated life as one of the world’s great fly fishermen started in 1947, when he drove his Model A Ford from Frederick to Baltimore so Joe Brooks could show him how to use the fiberglass rod he had just purchased from Tochterman’s tackle shop in Fells Point.

Brooks took Kreh to a grassy spot along Herring Run on the northeast side of the city, and that’s where a larger-than-life man, on his way to legendary status, introduced his new friend and protege — a future legend himself — to the fine art of fly casting.

Photo by Skip Clement

Brooks, a Baltimore native who was 24 years older than Kreh, had already set off on a career as an outdoors writer. He first wrote a column about regional fishing for a local paper in Baltimore County, and then for Outdoor Life. In the years after World War II, readers of that magazine were eager for information about fishing in North America, and Brooks quickly became an authority, writing articles and books, appearing regularly on national television, traveling all over the world and setting records with his light-tackle catches of dozens of species, from trout to tarpon.

He was a pioneer of fishing on the fly in saltwater, a champion of catch-and-release fishing, and, in his time, one of the most famous fly fishermen in the world.

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