She’d set up her fly
tying vice on a picnic table and tie the flies she needed for the weekend.
Sometimes her fly would be a smaller size, or at other times it would be a
different version of an old standard pattern. Regardless of what she decided
to tie, it was a lot of fun experimenting with salmon flies. Once the fly was
finished she took her newest creation to the river to try it out to see what
kind of luck it might bring. “That was when fly tying and fishing was the
greatest fun of all,” says Beulah.
Armstrong was born at Handford Brook, in Saint John, New Brunswick, on March
23, 1938. She is the daughter of the late Annie Martina (nee Allaby) and
William Edward Greer.
Beulah Armstrong (circa 1995)
Silver Cosseboom and Miramichi Cosseboom tied by Beulah
Armstrong November 1995
Beulah represents the
Big Salmon River. The Big Salmon is a very pristine river. The water is very
clear, and there are many deep pools even when the water is low. Because of these
features, offered by the Big Salmon River, it is what makes it Beulah’s
favourite. She also enjoys fishing in New Brunswick’s Black River.
It was during the late 1960’s that Beulah started fishing. She began by
fishing for trout. The trout fishing in the surrounding lakes was excellent
so she began fishing in earnest. She quickly learned that casting was a real
challenge and her flies were easily broken on the back cast. Trying to keep
enough flies on hand was an expensive venture.
While on holidays in
Ontario, in the late 1960’s, Beulah Armstrong spotted a fly tying kit, and
decided to buy it for her oldest son. Upon her return home they both tried
their hand at fly tying. Today she wishes she kept some of her earliest tied
flies, for although they weren’t the prettiest, they did catch fish.
for fly tying came from watching the late Rita Parks, from Saint John, New
Brunswick. In 1970, Beulah decided to take a fly tying course. During the
course she met James Forret from Quispamsis. He gave Beulah a lot of
During Beulah’s earliest trips to the rivers she met many old timer fishermen
who would stop and give her a fly to sample. More than often these old
gentlemen would provide her with instructions on how to use the fly. At
other times many of the visiting fishermen and fly tiers would offer
suggestions and helpful hints to make her fly tying a bit easier.
One of Beulah’s
favourite flies is a deer hair bug. “You can fish this fly up stream and let
it float down. It’s a thrill to watch a fish flip over backwards for this
fly; maybe nose it or slap it with their tail in an attempt to drown it. I’ve
spent many hours on the river just trying to raise a fish, or just to have a
fish follow the fly across the pool. Many times I’ve seen this happen without
the fish actually taking the fly, but the thrill of just having the fish
acknowledge the fly is just as great a thrill. There’d be times when I’d
stand on a rock ledge and watch as a salmon would rise and follow the fly.
I’d holler, “take it, take it.” This would always get a laugh out of other
fishermen close by,” says Beulah.
“Not long ago I’ve
seen fishermen race to the river at the crack of dawn, but there was no need
to. Back then the river was good for fishing at just about any time. Recently
though, with the decline in the salmon in Big Salmon River, it has been
restricted to hook and release, and for the last couple of years the river has
been closed altogether,” says Beulah.
Over the years Beulah
Armstrong has been very not only in her community but also equally as active
in the preservation of the Atlantic salmon, and angling. In 1976 to 1977,
Beulah organized the Simond’s Local Service District, Simond’s Volunteer Fire
Department and Ambulance Service. She was the Divisional Superintendent and
President until 1983, at which time she retired due to poor health. From 1983
to 1985 she served as a director with the Big Salmon Angling Association, and
from 1985 to 1995 she served as the Association’s President. Her leadership
with the Big Salmon River Angling Association helped them in being selected as
the recipient of the New Brunswick Salmon Council’s 1995 award. Finding the
time to devote to such a worthy cause, while at the same time working as a
school bus driver, while raising a family of three, are truly amazing
accomplishments by a truly amazing woman.
Armstrong has been featured in numerous articles written about salmon fishing
and conservation. Among them is an article written in the February/March,
1995 issue of SALAR, a newsletter published by the Atlantic Salmon Federation
for its members and affiliated organizations. The article was about the Beulah
Armstrong and the volunteers who sparked special stocking in the Big Salmon
River. On October 14, 1995, the Telegraph Journal, in Watershed Down,
featured an article on Beulah Armstrong, “Healers of the River.”
hair-wing fly is the “Butterfly” with a red or green butt. Her favourite
feather-wing fly is the “Blue Doctor.”
Beulah caught her largest fish at the “Amateur Pool” on the Big Salmon River.
She caught the 14-pound salmon on a green butt “Butterfly.” Now we know why
this is her favourite fly.