Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Three for the Miramichi

The Miramichi Salmon Association's (U.S.) annual Boston fundraising dinner is Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018.  I like to contribute what I can (which is surely not cash!) to the evening's profits.  In the past, my contributions have mostly been limited edition prints that I've collected over the years. Last year it was the framed flies I did for Mike Valla's latest book.  That project (the framing - not the flies) really got me interested in framing and matting and shadowbox construction.

The genesis for my contributions to the dinner this year starts with my new interest in tying featherwing flies.  Took awhile to get the hang of that, but once I did (well, at least as far as I'm concerned), I really developed an appreciation for their beauty.  So pretty that I decided I'd try my hand again at constructing a shadow box for them (see my blog post here to get an appreciation for the process:

The master of shadowbox art and fly framing was William Cushner. His work is really inspiring; I thought I'd try my hand at combining art with my featherwings.  The only salmon art I had was a piece of clip art that came in a book I bought once upon a time.  The framing, in its first form, came out pretty well...good enough so that I posted a photo of it on one of my favorite forums, Speypages.  In the text I added to the post, I mentioned that I was donating the framing to MSA, but I bemoaned the fact that I had to use clip art.  Later that day, I got a private message on that forum from a fellow Speypager, Nate Carter of Mount Shasta, CA.  He said he liked what I was doing and volunteered to do a watercolor for the framing!  We only had a few days in which to arrange all this, but Nate jumped on it, and within a couple days, the painting was at my door.

This story gets even cooler:  The mats that I had originally used with the clip art looked awful with Nate's watercolor; I had to change them...and time was really getting short.  A few months ago, I visited the only framing shop here in Bennington, VT to see about buying a couple 11X14 inch mat boards.  They wanted 54 bucks for the two pieces!  Not happening.  So I decided to try another frame shop, up in Manchester, VT, Jenner Custom Framing.  I've been getting my hair cut up in Manchester at the same place for 22 years and needed a cut pretty badly (Side note - the World's Most Interesting Man - from the beer commercials - gets his hair cut here, too!)  so I figured I kill two birds with one stone: hair cut and frame shop.  I found the frame shop on a side street in Manchester.  When I walked in the door I was greeted by a friendly little boxer dog...a good sign.  A nice red-headed woman came out from the back of the shop to see what I needed.  After a bit of explaining and a show and tell of Nate's art, she went back into the back of the shop and came out with a sheet of the perfect match for the art.  How much did I need?  Two 11X14 sheets, please.  She tossed the big sheet up into her cutter, did the deed, and handed me the mats.  How much?  No charge, sounds like you're doing a nice thing.  Perfect.  WAY better than 54 dollars.

We chatted a little more.  Since I worked in Manchester for 6 or so years while executive director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, I knew some people she knew.  I can get kind of excited when I talk about things I'm passionate about, especially Atlantic salmon.  I guess she got kind of caught up in it.  She said she had something that had been kicking around in her shop for years, a Churchill Ettinger  limited edition watercolor litho, and would I like it?  I am familiar with Ettinger's drypoints, but had never seen one of his watercolors.  Turned out to be a nifty fishing seen on the Restigouche, and into my truck it went to be used at an MSA fundraiser one of these days. How cool was that?

Well, that's a lot of words to describe how this shadowbox came about.  I guess it's time to show it (you can click on the pics to see a larger image):

I cannot tell a lie:  I cut down the cherry tree that the frame is made up and ripped a few boards out of it before the rest of it became firewood.  Good thing no one's is tracking the time invested in that frame from felling to milling the actual frame!

But wait! There's more.  Remember, the title of this blog post is Three for the Miramichi.  So far, we've only seen one.

I started tooling around ebay looking for cool salmon art; I wanted to do a couple more framings for the dinner.  Can't really do anything heavy duty for awhile due to a surgery in early January, so this is a good way to wile away the time.

I found a neat reproduction of a William Schaldach drypoint depicting a leaping salmon.  Perfect.  And only $9.99.    I love Hunter Green, had some matboard in that color, and it worked great with the aging reproduction.  I added a set of Rats:

Still cruising ebay, I found another pretty neat salmon.  $14.99 delivered.  Fit my wallet to a T.  And already had mats that complimented the image very nicely.  And back to the cherry frame:

And there you have it: three for the Miramichi.  The framing with Nate's original will be in the live auction, the other two will be in the silent auction.  Hope they raise some good bucks for salmon conservation!

Brodie looked me in the eye when this was all done...

and said he thought that wasn't quite enough...remember, there's a silent auction just of flies.  OK, OK, so one more last little donation to get Brodie off my back:

Now I have to go clean this up:


Friday, January 26, 2018

The latest from Charlie Krom

At the very top of the pile of modern and innovative Atlantic salmon fly tyers reside a very select (and sadly, getting fewer) group of folks.  My old salmon camp-mate, Charlie Krom, certainly is a charter member of that group.  Charlie turned 88 just the other day, and mentioned to me in an email that day that he was sending me some flies to try out this coming year.

To say that I've been eagerly checking our roadside mailbox every day since is an understatement.  Well, today's trip out into the mid-teens temperature was well-rewarded...a letter from Charlie!  And, since pictures are worth a thousand words, I'll let his letter do the talking:

To say that it's going to be next to impossible for me to break open these envelopes and fish these flies is an understatement...but I'm going to do it...and I'm going to dig my boots into the Miramichi's stony bottom and hold on when the salmon strikes start coming!

Charlie, many thanks for these treasures!

P.S.  Some may not have seen an earlier blog post about Charlie, and his colleagues and peers at the vise, the late Keith Fulsher and the late Bob Warren :

Monday, January 1, 2018

Three Great Reasons to be on the Miramichi, late June, 2018

If you've ever thought about making a trip to New Brunswick, Canada...and more specifically, to the Province's Miramichi River, there are several reasons to step up to the plate and make that trek in late June, 2018.  These reasons are especially compelling if you and yours enjoy the art and history of fly tying, as well as swinging said flies for fresh from the sea Atlantic salmon.  The reasons (in no particular order):

1. The Atlantic Salmon Fly International (ASFI) - from the ASFI's website (

In June 2018, Fly fishermen and Atlantic salmon fly tiers from all over the world will experience the third edition of the Atlantic Salmon Fly International (“ASFI”), a gathering that is like no other. The first two ASFI events were held in Seattle, Washington, USA in 2014 and 2016. ASFI 2018 will be held in the beautiful capital of Atlantic salmon country, the City of Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada. Hosted by the Dieppe Fly Tying Club in partnership with Economic Development & Tourism Miramichi, the 2018 event will continue the celebration of the passion and art of the Atlantic salmon fly. ASFI 2018 will be exciting on multiple levels, not the least of which, given the popularity of ASFI I and II, it will be a three days event, to be held on June 22-24, 2018.

There will be at least 80 of the world's best Atlantic salmon fly tyers participating in the event, which is, of course, open to the public.  The organizers obviously loosened up on that "world's best" qualification, since they invited me to tie a few hairwings at the event.  I'm also pleased to have been asked to be the Master of Ceremony and auctioneer for the Saturday night banquet.  I'm even giving a presentation centered upon my experiences on the river over the last 20 years on Sunday at noon.

It will be a wonderful opportunity to put faces to the many names I've gotten to know via Facebook and a few different forums, for sure!

2.  The Atlantic Salmon Museum, Doaktown, NB ( received an incredible collection of salmon fishing art and artifacts from the estate of a gentleman from British Columbia in 2017.  The collection, which features dozens of William Cushner fly framings, is valued at $500,000.  I took a few photos of some of the Cushner framings during a visit to the Museum (I'm proud to say I've been elected to the Museum's board of directors) last July.  Forgive the glares and reflections in the photos, please. Remember to click on the pics for larger images!

Art Flick and Ogden Pleissner:

Some of Bob Veverka's amazing work:

Simpson, DeFeo, Schwiebert and Fulsher are together in this framing:

Jim Pray's steelhead flies:

Charles DeFeo and Belarmino Martinez together:

DeFeo and Pleissner:

Walt Dette Dry Flies:

A few Lee Wulff flies:

A lot of Polly Rosborough's flies:

DeFeo, Atherton, Jennings and Wulff:

A wall full of my pal, Charlie Krom:

One of the coolest things about the Atlantic Salmon Museum is their Hall of Fame:

I am very proud to count as good friends two of the Hall of Fame inductees!

I've given you just the tip of the Museum's iceberg of goodies.  Serious fly people will want to spend the day!

3. Reason number three?  The opportunity to fish for fresh-from-the-sea Atlantic salmon!  Many experienced salmon anglers say that if they only one time to fish for Atlantics, it would be late June.  Dime bright and full of fight, June fish should be on everyone's bucket list!  The ASFI website (listed above in reason #1) has a list of outfitters that will be happy to help you find your way around the river and the fish.  And it's just a darn beautiful time to be on the river!

Hope to see you there!