October 31, 2023
On a rainy Saturday morning in mid-October, over 200 people gathered on the banks of Culler Lake in Frederick, Maryland’s Baker Park to witness the unveiling and dedication of “Lefty in the Lake.” The installation of the sculpture memorializing who many consider to be the greatest fly angler of the 20th Century was the culmination of several years of community building and fundraising by the Friends of Lefty Kreh (a chapter of Fly Fishers International) founded to carry on Bernard “Lefty” Kreh’s legacy of teaching, conservation, and bringing a love of the outdoors to all.
Lefty was born and raised in Frederick, and as a child he roamed the woods, fields, and rivers of Frederick County. After the death of his father when Lefty was just eight years old, he fished to help feed his family. When he returned from World War II, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, Lefty lived and worked for many years in Frederick. It was also where he met the outdoor writer Joe Brooks, who put the fateful first fly rod in Lefty’s hand and encouraged him to begin writing about his outdoor pursuits, ultimately leading to hundreds of articles and over two dozen books.
Appropriately, the bronze monument stands thigh deep in the lake, forever casting to the bluegill and largemouth that swim here. The internationally known sculptor, Toby Mendez, also native to the area, was drawn to the idea of placing Kreh’s likeness in a lake.
“We hope,” Mendez said, “that the way that it’s placed in the landscape will engage visitors to Baker Park and draw them in.”
Although Lefty’s iconic Deceiver fly has graced a United States Postal Service Stamp, until now there was little to recognize Lefty in his hometown. Now the statue is attracting notice, and the citizens of Frederick are learning more about the man who fished with celebrities and presidents but was at heart a humble and extraordinarily generous man of the people.
The Friends of Left Kreh will continue to work to promote Lefty’s legacy through education and outreach about conservation and fly fishing.
To learn more visit friendsofleftykreh.com.