Robert Wesley Baker

 

               “I believe that 99% of anglers are looking for the same thing, although many haven’t yet realized it.  We are not fishing for food for the table, but rather for food for the soul-for relaxation, fresh air, exercise, the camaraderie of other anglers, and a place to relieve the tension and stress of everyday life.  At the same time, without the fish, it would be an exercise in futility, so all anglers need to help to ensure that we have something to fish for, particularly the salmon,” says Robert Baker.

Robert Baker 2000

Robert Baker 2000

 Robert Wesley Baker was born on April 3, 1938 Middleton, Nova Scotia.  He is the son of Marguerite (nee Mapplebeck) and the late Wilfrid Laurier Baker.

At 6 years of age he was already fishing with an old alder pole and worm.  Robert’s salmon fishing in the early 1960’s, on Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland rivers wasn’t very productive.  It wasn’t until 1966, that he landed his first Atlantic salmon on the Nepisiguit River in New Brunswick.  That same year he hooked and landed a grilse on the Jacquet River.  This was the year that Robert Baker got hooked for life on the “Sport of Kings.”

Robert Baker and his family moved to New Brunswick in 1963.  His move was by way of Newfoundland, Northern Ontario, and British Columbia.  The moving was as a result of his job as a Supervisor of Industrial Engineering with Brunswick Mining and Smelting.

In 1968, Robert met up with George Caissie, well known fly tier and Nepisiguit River angler.  Robert didn’t have any salmon flies.  He heard that George Caissie sold flies, so he went to see him.  They quickly became friends, and it was George who taught Robert the art of fly tying.  To this day George Caissie remains Robert Baker’s favourite fly tier.  Robert’s earliest interest in fly tying was sparked when he was just a teenager in Nova Scotia.  He used to watching and listening to the fishermen and fly tiers that visited his dad’s home.  Robert experimented a little with fly tying back then.  He tied his first fly using some hair from an old pet dog. He caught a few trout and other fish species with the fly, but never hooked the jaw of anything larger than a pan size fish.  After he started tying flies with George Caissie, he never slackened.  Robert Baker himself couldn’t tell you how many different salmon flies he’s tied. He never kept a record, but from memory he names some of the more successful patterns that he originated.

Brown Mystery            1973                Half & Half-Green        1976

Half & Half-Red           1976                Nepisiguit Green           1980

Buttercup                     1981                Lady Pink                     1984

September Blue            1984                Eclipse                         1986

Pinware                        1986                Jezebel                         1986

Smurf                           1987                Black Shadow              1992

Silver Shadow              1992                Green Shadow             1993

Golden Shadow            1993                Blue Hope                    1994

Whizzard                      1995                Firelight                        1996

Blue Shadow                1997

(The Smurf was created through collaboration with his daughter Kathy, who started tying flies at the age six.) 

His original salmon fly patterns have been featured in books and magazines including: Hair Wing Atlantic Salmon Flies, American Fly Tyer, Eastern Woods & Waters, Spawner, Atlantic Salmon Federation Journal, Western Flyfishing

He has displayed his flies in Cushners Fly Tying Museum in Eugene, Oregon, USA., and at the Miramichi Salmon Museum in Doaktown, New Brunswick.  Robert also donates specially framed flies, both fully dressed and hair-wing, for fundraising to numerous organizations.
Robert loves to experiment with the many materials that make up a salmon fly.  He’s been able to use his flies to catch some very large fish in the 25-30 pound range.  The angling regulations state you must release all salmon.  Under the rules for hook and release, Robert will only play a large fish for a maximum of 10 minutes.  He then sets the fish free by breaking off the leader. Doing this eliminates any undue stress caused to the salmon by trying to land and measure it.  Robert makes all his measurements by eye.

In 1976, Robert originated a fly he named “Half & Half-Green.”  In September of that same year he caught a 25-pound salmon with it on the Nepisiguit River.  In 1986, while out fishing during the solar eclipse, he hooked and landed a 25- pound salmon on a fly that he later appropriately named “Eclipse,”

His favourite fully dressed salmon fly is the “Green Highlander.”  However, he’s had various favourites over the years, but believes that variations of green butt salmon flies probably fit the bill best.

Robert baker is proud to represent his favourite river the Nepisiguit.  Since 1966 he’s explored practically every inch of the it, from the headwaters to its mouth at Bathurst, New Brunswick. There probably isn’t a stretch of the river that Robert Baker hasn’t waded or sailed.  Since 1975, he’s also been guiding his personal friends on the Nepisiguit.  But, there’s a much bigger and more important story about Robert Baker’s relationship with this river, other than to fish it and show it to friends.  Robert Baker has worked his heart out to try and preserve the magnificent Nepisiguit so everyone can enjoy it.

In 1976, Robert Baker became the founding member and President of the Nepisiguit Salmon Association.  The Association is primarily responsible for the highly successful, major salmon enhancement program on the Nepisiguit River.  They have been responsible for the rebuilding of the salmon stocks that were nearly extinct, to the best returns in more than fifty years.  From 1981 to 1993, over $1.5 million in funding was secured, mainly through the efforts of the President.  In 1986, the Nepisiguit Salmon Association received the Lou Duffley Award for salmon conservation efforts in New Brunswick.  In 1987, the Nepisiguit Salmon Association was chosen as the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Affiliate of the Year. In 1990, the Nepisiguit Salmon Association was the recipient of one of five inaugural Redreational Fisheries Awards, from across Canada.

Other awards and positions that Robert Baker earned include:
·        1978 to 1982 Founding member and director of “Save Our Salmon” group, consortium of New Brunswick salmon conservation groups.
·        1980 to 1994 Honorary Fisheries Guardian for the Nepisiguit River, and initiated a volunteer warden group from the NSA members.
·        1983 to 1987 Director of the New Brunswick Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
·        1991 Elected Vice President of the New Brunswick Salmon Council.
·        1987 to 1991 Member of the Fish & Wildlife Advisory Board.
·        1988 Organizer of coalition of Bathurst area conservation groups to address issues such as clear-cutting, mining activity and other potential pollution issues.
·        1990 Member and current Chairman of the Nepisiguit River Management Committee.
·        1993 Included on the Atlantic Salmon Federation, “Roll of Honour.”
·        Active involvement in symposiums and seminars on topics such as Department of Federal Fisheries and Oceans management strategy, catch and release promotions, streamside incubation, and other salmon enhancement techniques.

He has written articles on salmon angling, and enhancement & conservation issues that were published in the Atlantic Salmon Journal, Eastern Woods & Waters, Spawner, Salar, Western Fly Fishing, Wild Steelhead & Salmon, and the National Salmon Association Newsletter, as well as various local and provincial newspapers.  His latest article was in the Telegraph Journal, and the book “Home Pool.”

So, you can see that Robert Baker, apart from being a fly tier, and angler, is a major conservationist.  He is truly an incredible person that has organized others, and fought as hard as any New Brunswicker to save the Atlantic salmon in the rivers of northern New Brunswick.

 

 

“Eclipse” originated in 1986 by Robert Baker

Tied by Robert Baker 1998

“Smurf” originated in 1987 by Robert Baker

Tied by Robert Baker 1998

 “Silver Shadow” originated in 1992 by Robert Baker

Tied by Robert Baker 1998

Eclipse

Head:               Grass green
Tip:                  Oval gold tinsel
Tag:                  Florescent lime green floss
Tail:                  Golden Pheasant crest and grass green hackle fibers
Butt:                 Black Ostrich herl
Body:               Orange floss, or wool
Rib:                  Oval gold tinsel
Wing:               Squirrel tail dyed grass green
Cheeks:            Jungle Cock
Collar:              Grass green hackle