Lewis Bryant Freeman

 The small business card from Eskape Anglers, Riverview, New Brunswick reads, Fly Fishing Specialist, Bryant Freeman “Therapy and Consulting for Fly Fishermen.”

Lewis Bryant Freeman, owner and manager of Eskape Anglers, was born on June 23, 1941 in Greenfield, Queens County, Nova Scotia.  He is the son of the late Helen Mary (nee Gaetz) and Lewis Melbourne Freeman.  His birthplace is situated on the banks of the famous Medway River.  On the day he came into this life the doctor who delivered him had been salmon fishing some twenty miles away with his father, Lewis Freeman Sr. Some consider this a strange happening, an omen, for it paved the beginning of a lifelong adventure in a world of fishing and fly tying

 

A Nest of Parmachene Belle's by Bryant 1996

 

   Bryant, as he is known by practically everyone, started tying flies in 1948.  At that time he was a 7-year old fly tyer’s assistant working with his favorite fly tyer, his dad.  Now, this is where things get really interesting. Fly tyer Lewis Freeman Sr., was anything but your typical, crank-em-out tyer of the day, No sir, the man worked hard to produce a fly.  You see, Lewis Freeman Sr. had only one arm.  A sawmill accident was responsible for that.

The young boy, guided by the seasoned pro, worked in unison like the action of a finely machined reel.  Each and every movement was planned and deliberate.  Bryant would hold in place the hair for the wings while his father would wrap the thread around the butts of the hair and anchor them in place.  When this was completed the finishing touches were added.

Like most children, who are raised on the banks of a famous salmon river, learning to fish is as natural as learning to ride a bike, paddle a canoe, or to go to school, and so Bryant got hooked on fishing.  At the age of 10, he hooked and landed his first Atlantic salmon.  He was all by himself when the 12-pound salmon struck the Hardy Brother’s feather wing “Silver Grey”.  He could have been fishing a big dry fly, or one of the popular pine squirrel wing flies, but young Bryant knew most fishermen on the river in those days preferred the traditional feather wings.  Little wonder why the “Silver Gey” would top the list of Bryant’s favorite fly patterns fifty-four years later.

By the age of 14 he became fishing guide and worked at it out of the Freeman House Hotel, where he catered to anglers from all over the United States.  The money he earned from guiding helped put him through a telecommunications school in Saint John, New Brunswick.

In 1960 Bryant graduated from Vocational School and went to work for C N Railway Telecommunications, in Northern New Brunswick.  Living in New Brunswick gave way to access to the famous salmon rivers in the province.  He did a lot of fishing during between 1960 and 1967.  He was never without his fishing rod, hip boots and a box of flies that he had tied.  He gained a lot of experience in those years and estimates that he would have hooked over a hundred salmon per year.  He maintains that he caught so many fish on one of his flies that he wore it thin.  In later years he identified the fly pattern as the “Rabbi”.

In 1967 he began tying the fully dressed (Classic) fly patterns.  His guide was the John Veniard fly tying bible, “The Fly Dressers Guide”.  Veniard was also his supplier for much of the tying materials, but he also purchased quality material from Herter’s and from the fly tying shops of Frank Rickard’s in Riverview, WW Doak in Doaktown, John Hopey and P A Furlotte in Moncton.  His tying eventually took him into the commercial business side of it.  Back then he tied hair wing flies for Frank Rickard and the fully dressed salmon flies for Wallace Doak.  In 1985 he decided to open a shop of his own.  He started out by purchasing fly tying materials and then started dyeing fur and feathers for clients.  On February 1st 1991 he retired from his day job and has been preparing feathers ever since. 

Today he excels in providing the very best components for the construction of salmon flies, but the demand for the larger feathers has created pressure on species that provide the feathers, as most people wish to tie flies larger than 2/0. Leaving the smaller feathers on the market, which will tie the smaller flies. He ties all his fully dressed flies on a size 2 up to size 10, and if a special order comes in for larger flies, he limits production to 200 per year in the 6/0 to 1/0 range. He has gained international recognition in traditional feather fly production and sells his flies world-wide.  He donates flies to the Miramichi Salmon Association and the Atlantic Salmon Federation.  He is also a donor to the Maine Public Television Network for their auctions for conservation purposes.  There  is a waiting list for his traditional classics.  The flies he once tied for W.W. Doak are tied for his own business, which he sometimes ships to people all over the world.

Bryant Freeman is considered by many to be the “Magician of Materials” as he excels in providing the very best components for the construction of salmon flies.  He is the first to tell you he has noticed the move to genetic feathers.  In his estimation it is striving for certain qualities in a feather.  He believes the originals, and those untouched by genetics; prove to be more effective for fishing.  Although the genetics look good to the human eye, they do not prove to be as good in fishing flies.

Between 1967 and 1975, Bryant dropped out of the fly tying and angling scene in order to pursued the sport of golf.  He studied golf until 1975, but realizing he had to make a decision as to what sport he would commit to and thus he chose what he really loved doing most, fishing and fly tying. 

As you can see, Bryant Freeman is no stranger to the fishing and fly tying world. Since the late 1950’s he’s been recognized, through writings in Field and Stream, The Atlantic Salmon Journal for his contribution to angling, guiding and fly tying. 

 On October 23, 1997 the Atlantic Salmon Federation / New Brunswick Salmon Council honoured Lewis Bryant Freeman for his major contribution to the sport of angling for Atlantic Salmon in New Brunswick by having distinguished himself in the art of Crafting and Designing Atlantic Salmon flies.  Bryant was presented with an award at the 6th Annual Atlantic Salmon Federation / New Brunswick Salmon Council Dinner in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

He is a past Director of the New Brunswick Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation Inc. A past president of the Nelson Hollow Salmon Association, Past Executive Secretary of the NB Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation Inc., and Secretary Treasurer of the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, presently he is the chief Editor of the NBSC, Barbless Butterfly. He is a Master Mason and a Past Master of the Masonic Order, Coverdale #52 F & AM.

          Although his favorite fully dressed salmon fly is the “Silver Grey” he has a particular fondness for strip-wing flies and he derives a particular pleasure in making them.  He believes they tend to be overlooked.  He has a number of flies that he frequently uses. They are:
“General Practitioner”
“Black Bear” Green Butt
“Carter’s Bug”
“Rabbi”
“Brown Rags”

  He caught his largest salmon on a “Silver Blue.”  The salmon weighed 20 pounds and was caught in September 1972, on the Salmon River in St. Martins, New Brunswick. 

He recently released his most secret weapon.  It is the deadly “Andora Spey” which he created in 1999.  Although he has now unveiled this secret he cautions the angler who uses it.  In the words of the late Bill Fullerton, “If everyone had one it would have to be outlawed”.

Bryant maintains that you should never tie a fly with too much hair or feathers and to keep the size small.  A good fly is one that has character and semblance.  It should have a low wing and should be fishy looking. 

Bryant has fished the Restigouche, Margaree, all the Miramichi Rivers, the Saint John River, which he loved before they dammed it at Mactaquac. He has fished the Salmon River, the Petitcodiac River in his hometown and he enjoys being on the Kedgwick.  His favourite fishing spot is “Charlie's Rock” on the Little Southwest Miramichi River.  But, his true love is the Medway River in Nova Scotia, which he returns to every year so he can rejuvenate his childhood memories and be close to nature and the salmon.

“Fishing is a sport for Kings.  The people of New Brunswick have the greatest salmon fishing in the world, but I feel the majority of the people take it for granted.  I see it declining, but I don’t think it needs to happen.  I am a staunch believer in hook and release and I give fully to the preservation and protection of one, if not the greatest, sport fish of all, the Atlantic salmon.  I will continue to be an active representative for all that is good in the sport of angling and the art of fly tying”, says Bryant.

 
The Andora Spey, Inspired by Roger Whitcomb, from a Streamer named after his wife Andora.

“Blue Highlander” tied by Bryant Freeman February 20, 2005

#4 "Silver Grey" tied by Bryant Freeman May 1994


On September 28, 2007 a capacity crowd gathered at the Atlantic Salmon Hall of Fame in Doaktown, New Brunswick for the induction of Lewis Bryant Freeman, second from left, as the 104th Inductee to the Atlantic Salmon Hall of Fame. Bryant Freeman is honored for his contribution as a Master Fly Tyer, Master Feather Merchant and Conservationist.