GAFF Magazine – April 2015

Fishing with Lefty Krey

By KING MONTGOMERY –  Joe Brooks, the great sportsman and outdoors writer of the mid-20th century, was Lefty Kreh’s mentor and introduced Lefty to the fly rod shortly after World War II. Brooks was a regular at the famous Weatherby’s Lodge in Grand Lake Stream (GLS), Maine, and Lefty heard stories from Joe of gorgeous brook trout and large landlocked salmon in the stream, and of endless, nice smallmouth bass in some of the lakes and the nearby St. Croix River that forms the boundary between the USA and Canada’s New Brunswick. Lefty always wanted to visit here, and I made it happen in late summer less than two years ago. Lefty was 88 years old.

“Sports” have been coming to the bucolic 125-person village and the unique stream both named Grand Lake Stream since the early 1800s and in real force since the turn of the 20th century when railroads pushed through to the more far flung reaches of Maine. Once GLS, located about 90-minutes northeast of Bangor, was home to the largest tannery in the world, and was in the heart of serious logging operations.

By the late 1800s, after the tannery closed and logging slowed greatly, the town was reachable by boat from Princeton, some 10 miles from GLS at the headwaters of the West Branch of the St. Croix River. Thus, ever increasing numbers of anglers and hunters could train to nearby Princeton from the more developed New England states, hop on a small steamer, and head to GLS where sporting camps began to flourish. A rough road from the Princeton area to GLS eventually was completed as well.

Now there are about 15 camps in the vicinity of GLS that provide accommodations of one sort or another, and some have in-house guides or can tap the large reservoir of Registered Maine Guides that operate here. It is said that GLS is home to more Maine guides than other location in Maine—about 50 fishing, hunting, and recreational guides work here.

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