Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The End of an Era.

This past December, the Little Lehigh Fly Shop officially closed bringing an end to seventeen years of bestowing knowledge, gear, and skill to local fly fishermen. According to the local paper, The Morning Call, Rod Rohrbach, the owner, blames the economy and the lack of youth in the sport for his shop's ultimate demise. Two problems that are impacting more than just fly shops. They are impacting the entire industry. As I returned home this past weekend, I paid my respects to the boarded up stone building the shop called home.

I began fishing the Little Lehigh, soon after I received my first fly rod on my thirteenth birthday. The water was my proving ground during my teenage years as I honed my craft through trial and error on the many selective wild brown that call the stream home. It helped to have numerous hatchery escapees to pound on all day long in between the wild browns. It was here I learned how to fight larger fish on small tippet and to sight fish with long fine leaders with minuscule offerings in the high twenties.

Every time I went to the Little Lehigh, I knew it would be crowded. Fly fishers from all over visited the stream and took in the wonderful hatches, fish, and wisdom around the shop. And of course, there were the regulars. It seemed no matter what day I went to the stream, I saw the same old men fishing or hanging around the shop enjoying themselves. It was quite the scene.

With that scene in mind, I walked down to the stream, and found it lacking its familiar feeling. There was no one around. For the first time, I had the entire stream to myself. My only company was the resident great blue heron population. We took turns whacking the trout. It went on this way for quite some time before another angler appeared. I recognized him from a distance. He was a regular identified by his style of fishing. If you frequent the Little Lehigh you have surely seen this grizzled veteran fishing a streamer down and across violently jerking his fly line on the water. More often than not, his style works. The appearance of another fishermen, and a regular at that, provided me with some hope for the stream.

Even then, I worry that it might fall upon the wayside. Word on the street is, that since the fly shop closed, all the no wading signs were removed and fishermen could be seen wading in the holy water once reserved for trout only. Rumor also has it, that the fly fishing only section will be stocked for the first time ever this coming year. I can think of no better recipe to wreck havoc on the already diminished brown trout population, by allowing people to wade over reds and introducing large stockers to out compete the browns for the remaining turf. When you combine this with the massive amount of sediment and runoff introduced into the headwaters due to development, I really worry for the stream I once called home. Hopefully, the regulars can rally to restore some honor to the stream and protect it for all its worth. Rod wouldn't have it any other way. 


Mark Kautz said...

Hey Mark. That has got to hurt. This economy is killing everything.


Dub The Thorax said...

Nice post. The LL is my home water and I'm there 2 days a week. I seriously laughed out loud when you talked about the streamer guy. I had a conversation with him on Friday and I could hear him slapping on the water from 50 yards away.

It also pisses me off to see people wading in there now. I still can't bring myself to do it. I dont even wear waders when I fish that stretch.

Good news is, the shop will be reopening under a different name, but run by someone very close to Rod. Look for that in mid spring.

Matt Koloch said...

Nice post! Everyone does know the streamer guy, a real character. I once wore waders to the LL, due to 20"+ of snow. I was told by several people, wading was not allowed. I tried to explain to one guy, what other option is there to stay warm, but waders in the snow. He laughed and said "Good point".

Mark said...

Great news that the shop will be re-opening!

I do not find it surprising that everyone knows of "streamer" guy.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have fished there and have NOT seen him. I am sure he is a good guy. It takes dedication to throw a streamer all day, everyday. Big fly, big fish!

Unknown said...

I'm glad to hear the fly shop shall return. However, I hope the rumor that stocking is in the future proves untrue. While we all love to catch trout, stocking is one of the things that ultimately detriments the entire existing population.