100 Best: LeTort Spring Run
Location: Southcentral Pennsylvania
Type of stream: Limestone spring creek
Angling methods: Fly, spin
Species: Brown trout
Supporting Services: Carlisle, Boiling Springs
Short take: The most challenging chalk stream in the East
Handicapped Access: Yes
Closest TU Chapter: Cumberland Valley
Mention the name Ed Shenk, and anglers in the know will immediately conjure up visions of the LeTort and the Yellow Breeches near Carlisle and Boiling Springs. Ed has fished the Le Tort assiduously for at least two generations. Over the past few years, the number of hulking browns, those behemoths in the 24 inch plus range, has declined. Catching one these days is akin to winning the Irish sweepstakes. Where the LeTort’s browns went, Ed doesn’t know. What he does know is that in 2010 and 2011, a typical brown ran between eight and ten inches. As this is being written in 2012, he’s seeing a few more in the 12 to 14 inch range. He’s encouraged.
“The springs don’t flow like they used to,” Ed says. He believes that South Middleton Township’s wells that provide water to new homes have drawn down the aquifer that feeds the LeTort. That’s not unusual. There’s only so much water. What gets pumped out of a well and flushed into a sewer doesn’t come back as spring water.
So, is the LeTort worth a visit? Of course. It is still one of the most challenging streams to fish. Clear as vodka, shallow, much of its banks open, it demands a stealthy approach. Presentations must be precise. Myriad micro currents play hob with a dry’s float. The fact that fewer trophy trout live in the stream doesn’t make catching the smaller ones any easier.
Access, thanks to TUers over the years, is excellent. The mile and a half upstream of the park is designated for Heritage Trophy Angling by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and thus reserved for catch and release fly fishing. Upstream, you’ll find some fast water and shade at Bonny Brook quarry. The Heritage water is the place to start. Leave your vehicle at the park in Carlisle or at the small pullout where TU has erected monuments to the deans of terrestrials Charlie Fox and Vince Marinaro.