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.
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.