Secret no more: Our Allegheny receives some wide attention

A local fly-fishing legend has spread the story of fishing the Allegheny River with the leading magazine of fly fishing.

In the June-July 2013 edition of Fly Fisherman, Allegheny Browns by Gary Kell with photography by Jack Hanrahan details Kell’s laborious efforts to hook into a particularly large brown trout he had seen rising for caddisflies and mayfly spinners.

That kind of expedition is what fly-fishing is all about, he said.

“A lot of what fly fishing is is the whole journey,” said Kell, who lives in Warren. “The end result isn’t a bunch of fish, it’s the journey.”

“Fly fishing is being out in these beautiful water environments,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that the national forest provides hundreds of miles of small streams.”

Most of a trout’s diet is aquatic insects – 90 percent, Kell said.

Because of that, fly fishing is the right way to catch trout during certain times of year.

Another part of the satisfaction that fly-fishermen find in their craft is being able to select the right fly to match what the fish are eating.

Picking the right fly is one thing.

Tying the right one is another. “When you get into fly fishing, some people just love to tie the flies,” he said. Tying a fly that mimics a local insect and catching a fish on it “is part of the thrill of fly fishing.”

In business terms, Kell goes by “fly-fishing coach.” He now plays that role on an as-needed basis with the Allegheny River Fly Fishing Company.

The Federation of Fly Fishers gives him the title of “master casting instructor.”

Some would say Kell is a master of his craft.

He would not.

“You learn your entire life – new things about the fish, the environment,” he said. “It challenges you. No matter how good you think you get.”

And the Allegheny River is not a place for the novice fly-fisherman.

“This river is not for the beginner,” Kell said. “It’s not a family fishery.”

He’s not trying to say it’s not a fun and beautiful place for anyone to fish. Rather, it’s a place where expertise will be particularly rewarded.

“People can throw a worm out,” he said. “To really be successful, you’ve got to have just a little bit more knowledge and experience… from a fly-fishing perspective.”

No matter Kell’s experience as a fisherman, he is not a veteran of writing about it for magazines.

“That’s the first time,” he said. “They’ve been looking for somebody to do an article on the Allegheny. I’ve never done that before, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.”

He did, and Fly Fisherman accepted the story.

Kell complimented Hanrahan on the photography that accompanied his story.

Writing about the river that runs through his home town was a natural for Kell.

“It’s a tremendous resource for Warren and Warren County in terms of tourism and just great enjoyment of the water and the scenery it provides,” Kell said. “Especially this upper portion from Tionesta to the dam is just a beautiful, beautiful river.”