When you look at a map of New Brunswick you can see a crop of land that extends westward from Edmundston toward Fort Kent, Maine, USA. Within this stretch of land there are several small towns and villages. Clair is one of the villages situated about 35 kilometers west of Edmundston and it is the birth place and home of Carmel (Sea Otter) Boulay.
Sea Otter, which is Carmel Boulay’s spiritual name, was born on April 31, 1933 and is the son of David and Susa Boulay. He is a non status Native and Chief of the Wit-sun-wik-wam-sun-ote people. Wit-sun-wik-wam-sun-ote means “The camp is by the river.”
He was 14 years old when he started tying flies. This all came about as a result of a project he had to do as a Boy Scout while his Scout Patrol was under the supervision of Scout Leader, Ronald Long who was also a fly tyer from Claire.
I first met Carmel Boulay at Miramichi in April 2005 while he was attending a function at the Lindon Recreation Centre. Carmel was displaying and selling his fishing flies. As I went to his booth and scanned his flies laid out and hanging on cards I couldn’t help notice there were no names attached to the flies to identify them.
I introduced myself and randomly pointed to a red fly and asked him what it was called. He quickly told me it was, “The red fly.” I then pointed to a green fly and asked him the same question. His answer was, “That’s the green fly.”
Now, I could see that the flies were red and green, but like most fly tyers I figured his flies had some interesting, or magical name with a unique story attached to them; Boy, was I wrong. Sea Otter explained, “I never name a fly. A fly is what it is. If it is made of pink material then it’s a pink fly. If the fly has several colors in it, then I name it after the colors. If the pattern has blue, red and white in it then I call it a blue, read and white fly. It’s isn’t complicated.”
Sea Otter’s theory on the creation and tying of fishing flies was certainly different to me, but when I stopped to think about it, it seemed to make sense. However I told him it wasn’t a pattern I’d care to adopt.
Sea Otter’s fishing is concentrated on the Saint John River and in many lakes. He used to do some guiding, but gave it up to allow more time for some of his other interests.
He caught his largest fish, a thirty-nine pound muskie on a yellow fly that looked like a “Mickey Fin”, but Sea Otter’s fly had some blue and red on it also.
Where The Rivers Meet “The Fly Tyers of New Brunswick” select Carmel (Sea Otter) Boulay as fly tyer of the month of April for 2008.
Carmel Boulay and display of