Charles K. Fox
One of the World's Great Fly Fisherman
Eugene P. Macri jr.
Copyright© 1998 Macri International and
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Once upon a time
there was a place that some fly fishers called Camelot. To those who had visited ,it was a magical world. It
had a spring borne from rock layers that witnessed the dawn and death of the dinosaurs. The waters flowed
clear as gin with watercress and moss, and the aromatic smell of mint filled the air. The waters were
icy cold and would take the heat from a hot summer´s day. Insects would emerge in quantities that would bring
giant piscatorial legends to the surface, and shake the souls of those
who waded its cold waters. Its waters were a haven for a breed of fish that would test the world’s greatest fly
fishermen. In most instances they would leave beaten but proud. But all had a story to tell of the huge trout
that had refused and occasionally taken their fly, and for the man they had met. They came from all over the
world and like a pilgrimage to the Holy Land or Mecca, this mystical place captivated them. And like all good
legends this stream had its own river keeper. A Merlin-like figure who seemed to have the wisdom that other
humans lacked. He protected and cared for the stream and its creatures. The anglers the world over would stop
at his court for his blessing and guidance. He honored them all, --novice or expert, he had time for everyone.
Yet this river keeper and the stream existed not only in a magic book or in the mind of those anglers but also
in the real world.
not a wizard, or magician and his only court was a little wooden table and bench where he would often sit and
observe the fish, tie flies, and talk to the hordes of anglers who stopped to meet him. He was the quintessential
gentleman of fly fishing. His name was Charlie Fox and his stream was the
LeTort Spring Run in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He was perhaps one of the most famous fly fisherman who lived since
Izaak Walton, and one of the most influential. He was a conservationist before anyone really knew what one was. For
over fifty years he faithfully guarded one of the most sacred streams in the world. His efforts included protecting
the fish and stream through proper environmental management, to physically hauling and strategically placing gravel in the
stream, so that nature would increase the chances of the spawning fish. (Photo to the left: Charlie Fox and Ernie Schwiebert at a banquet for
Charlie Fox held by the Letort Regulars).
His books are considered
classics in the literary world of fly fishing, The Wonderful World of Trout and Rising Trout are a testament
to a man’s love of nature and his fellow man. Some of the most famous people passed his way including the late
publisher and founder of Esquire magazine, Arnold Gingrich. Arnold would make the pilgrimage to the LeTort with
other anglers from the four corners of the earth. Arnold often stayed at Charlie’s and the late Gary Mortensen’s
fishing cabin on the southwest branch of the Miramichi in Canada
while salmon fishing. Gingrich asked Charlie to write a couple of articles for Esquire. But Charlie hesitated.
Charlie obliged after Arnold’s insistence. Charlie had written for Esquire in its finest hour. Yet, he always
felt a little embarrassed about it. He told me once, Gene, "I shouldn’t have been writing for Esquire. I’m not
a writer of that caliber. But Arnold wanted these articles on salmon fishing. So I did it for him. And you
know he took care of his friends. He really did. When I got the check for the articles, well, I really
couldn’t believe it....it was a lot of money in those days. In fact, it’s a lot of money today!"
(Photo of Charlie Fox cutting his birthday cake by the
light of a lantern at a picnic on the Letort).
Go To Part 2 of Charlie