James “Jim” Forret

 

            James Forret, better known as “Jim”, was born on December 15, 1913, at Kirkcaldy, County of Fifeshire, Scotland.  He is the son of the late Ann (nee Horsburgh) and Andrew Forret.

            In 1928 the Forret family immigrated from Scotland to St. martins, New Brunswick, and in 1932 they settled permanently in Saint John.  The Forret family were farmers all their life.  “Jim” married in 1934 and worked on a farm for E.A. Schofield in Bloomfield, New Brunswick.

            During the Second World War Jim worked at the dry dock in Saint John, and after the war he became the manager for the farm of the New Brunswick Protestant Orphanage, a position he held until 1955.  he then went to work at the Kinghurst jersey Farm and Dairy in Rothesay, New Brunswick.

Jim has fished Atlantic salmon for more than fifty years.  His salmon fishing is concentrated on the Big Salmon and Hammond Rivers of Kings County.  Hi fly fishing began when he purchased a dozen flies for twenty-five cents each.  He went to thecovered bridge located on the Big Salmon River.  “I broke every hook I had on the abutment of that bridge.  I didn’t realize I was hitting it on my back-cast.  A friend gave me a few more flies, but I lost them.  I figured that if I was going to go that many flies I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy them”, said Jim.

 

Jim Forret tying flies in 1995

             In 1954 Jim purchased a fly tying book written by Helen Shaw.  There was no one along the Big Salmon River tying flies that he knew of, so he couldn’t get any help except by studying the instructions in the book and by picking up a lot of pointers along the way, which eventually helped him become proficient enough at tying flies.  It wasn’t long before his friends and others were going to Jim and purchasing his flies.  For a number of years he tied exclusively for the well-known New Brunswick fly tyer Warren Duncan in Saint John.

            Jim only ties hair wing salmon flies.  He specializes in the tying of “bug” series of flies made of deer hair.  These flies are his favorite to tie, and his favorite to fish with.  However, he also likes other hair wing flies including the “Butterfly” and “Rusty Rat”.  Jim has created some of his own patterns that were successful, but he never bothered to name them.

            His favorite places to fish include the Amateur Pool and the Whirlpool located on the Big Salmon River.  He also has a great love for the Hammond River.  He remembers catching two large salmon there, each within an hour, one afternoon.  He caught them on a “Hammond River Bug”, a fly originated by Les Sommerville, living in that area.

            On December 15, 2004 Jim celebrated his ninety first birthday.  When I interviewed Jim on January 21, 2005 he told me that just recently he quit tying flies because of poor eyesight.  He taught fly tying to the Hammond River Angler’s Association until the late 1990’s and gave classes on the art of fly tying to more than two dozen students each week.  What a remarkable contribution he has made to preserving the art of fly tying in New Brunswick.

During his lifetime Jim Forret has seen a lot of changes take place with respect to angling.  He sees a lot more people fly fishing, people who want to experience the thrill of hooking and landing a “silver torpedo” the Atlantic salmon.  His wish is that people would keep conservation in mind and he encourages hook and release so one day children, and children’s children might enjoy the same pleasure of angling.  “Don’t forget to put it back.  You will feel better later on just knowing that you contributed to enriching and preserving the sport of fly fishing in the future”, says Jim.

Flies tied by James Forret Mid 1990’s