Beulah Eleanor Armstrong

 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.

Beulah Eleanor 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.

Beulah’s inspiration 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 help.             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.

 Beulah 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.”

Beulah’s favourite 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.