Benedict Theophilus “Ben” Connell

 Benedict Theophilus “Ben” Connell was born on February 13, 1915 in Bartibogue, New Brunswick.  He is the son of Cecilia (nee Arseneault) and James Connell.  Ben lived most of his life at Bartibogue, close to the Little Bartibogue River, a tributary of the main Bartibogue that flows into the Miramichi River.

 

It wasn’t until the late 50’s and early 60’s that fly fishing for salmon became popular on the Little Bartibogue River. Prior to the late 50’s bait was mostly used for fishing. 

Ben's father guided hunters, but on occasion there would be a fisherman among the crowd.  If a visiting sportsman wanted to fish, more than likely he would use bait, unless he happened to have with him a few feather-wing flies.  There wasn't anyone tying salmon flies on the Bartibogue because there didn't seem to be a need for them.  Ben remembers his father tying a piece of squirrel tail to a hook.  It was effective, but to Ben it looked more like a mouse than a salmon fly.

Fishermen were lured to the Bartibogue River for the action of the trout more than the salmon.  Trout weighing over five pounds were not uncommon.  Ben remembers fishing for those big trout when he was only five years old.       


Ben Connell 1995

Budd Kitchen, Ben Connell and Dewey Gillespie at the Where The Rivers Meet “The Fly Tyers of New Brunswick” exhibition at Brookdale Nurseries in Miramichi, August 1996

Ben Connell started tying flies in the early 1960's.  A friend and fly tier from Moncton came to visit him and during the visit the friend started tying flies.  Ben was fascinated by it so he got some fly tying material and started tying.  Together, they tied flies and fished for more than 30 years.  Research shows that Ben is the earliest known fly tier from the area surrounding the Little Bartibogue River, that is if we exclude his father who tied the piece of squirrel tail on a hook.        In an interview with Ben in 1994 he told me that continues to fish, tie flies and enjoys experimenting with materials to create the fly that will entice the most Atlantic salmon.  He says that his salmon flies are not the prettiest or fanciful, but they produce well. He has always had success with his flies, especially the one that he refers to as  “Ben's Best.”  His favourite is the “Butterfly”, but he also likes the “Black Ghost.”  He caught his largest fish, weighing 20 pounds 10 ounces, on a “Brown Bug.”  He landed it at the “Mountain Pool”, on the Miramichi River near Blackville, New Brunswick.

            In 1996 Ben was presented in a custom framed presentation for Where the Rovers Meet “The Fly Tyers of New Brunswick” exhibition.

 

 

 

On October 3, 2003, Benedict Theophilus “Ben” Connell was inducted into the Sportsman Hall of Fame in the Atlantic Salmon Museum at Doaktown, New Brunswick.  On February 3, 2005 Ben Connell will celebrate his ninetieth birthday.          

 

Ben’s Best

 

Head:               Black

Butt:                 Green wool

Tail:                  One strand of Peacock sword fiber

Body:               Medium oval silver tinsel

Wing:               Black Bear hair

Collar:              Black hackle