Lewis Bryant Freeman
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
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
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
1991 he retired from his day job and has been preparing feathers ever since.
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
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
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
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
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:
“Black Bear” Green Butt
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
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.
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
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.