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FLY FISHING THE LETORTE IN PENNSYLVANIA

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Vince Marinaro and Charlie Fox were skilled anglers who shared the waters of Letort Spring Run, and popularized it throughout time. This spring-fed, limestone creek averages 20 feet wide, and offers excellent, dry-fly fishing in a pristine setting of slow, glass water where even the most skilled anglers leave frustrated much of the time. Long leaders, light tippets, and large wild brown trout make this place an angler's dream come true.

Vince and Charlie once sat along the Letort, scratching their heads in an attempt to figure out the river that meandered in front of them. It was one filled with rising brown trout that were nearly impossible to catch. They came up with solutions such as longer leaders, light tippets, and even pioneered thorax-style dry flies, since traditional Catskill dries didn't seem to do the trick. Thanks to Vince and Charlie, they turned a creek of great importance to Pennsylvania's fisheries into a famous one.

Originating from limestone springs, the Letort flows north through meadows of grass and brush. Just south of Bonny Brook Road, begins the Heritage Trout Angling regulations area. The area extends 1.5 miles; From 300 yards above the bridge on Twp. Route 481 downstream (North) to the Reading Railroad Bridge at the southern edge of Letort Spring Park.

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This stretch is catch-and-release fly fishing, with barbless-hooks only. It is a great area that helps protect the river's wild browns that are so important here. In 1981, a large fish kill occurred as a result of pesticides used in watercress beds. The fishing commission did not stock fish, but instead allowed the wild fish that made it through to reproduce. Today, the stream has returned to its original numbers of wild browns.
Hatch Chart
Below Bonny Brook Quarry, after the Letort passes through an area of gravel-strewn riffles, it meanders through Marinaro's Meadow midway in the fly stretch. Here, large browns will intercept Olives and Sulphurs, as well as a variety of Terrestrials and Midges. Changing currents and multiple feeding lanes make it very difficult to get a "dead free" drift . Just below the end of the fly-fishing-only section, the Letort flows through Letort Spring Park where you'll still find good numbers of wild trout.

Below the park, the Letort enters the town of Carlisle. Through Carlisle, the creek is not interesting to most people, until it reaches the barracks on the downstream side of town. Below Carlisle and just below the barracks at Post Road, the Letort returns to a great trout stream. Here the creek runs through some meadows and small developments before flowing into Conodoquinet Creek. This stretch also has many wild trout, and some are trophy size. The State also stocks fingerlings in the lower half of the river to help the population of trout that had been affected by a sewage problem from Carlisle down to the mouth of the Letort. The problem has since been brought under control, and the lower Letort is now a fabulous fishery.

Although Letort Spring Run is a famous Pennsylvania spring creek, there is usually plenty of room to fish. Like many of the more difficult rivers, anglers will fish it once or twice, and then give up. It is, however, a great experience, and the fish that you manage to catch are memorable. Be sure to use long leaders, light tippets, and a stealthy approach in order to fool these wild browns. Try false casting to the side of the fish instead of over their heads. This is recommended because false casting will spray water on top of these wild browns and will put them down. Then, you may have to wait several minutes before the fish will begin to rise again. So, make your first cast count.

Hatches on the Letort are not as prolific as on some of the other freestone streams. There still are good Olive and Sulphur hatches along with many Terrestrials, Midges, and Tricos during the summer. Cress Bugs also are important flies on the Letort, and should be included in your box if you plan to go there. When the water is off-color from rain, try using Woolly buggers, and a variety of other streamers. The next time you plan a trip to South Central Pennsylvania, be sure to stop by Letort Spring Run and fish for its famous wild browns.