James Hazen Harriman

1924 - 1997

 

James Hazen Harriman was born on June 10, 1924 in Porcupine, a little settlement now called Carrol’s Crossing, situated between Doaktown and McNamee, New Brunswick.  He was the son of the late Evelina (nee Lyons) and Stafford Benson Harriman. James and his family lived in Porcupine until 1936.  When he was 12 years old his family moved to Moncton, where James lived the rest of his life.

James started guiding when he was only 14 years old.  He did most of his guiding for the Lyon’s Den in Doaktown where he guided both hunters and fishermen. When he was 16 years old he started tying flies.  He did so out of necessity.  His first flies were for trout fishing. There were a lot of trout, and James loved the fast and furious action they provided.  It was not until the early 1960's that he began tying salmon flies.

 

 

James Harriman tying flies at his home in Moncton in 1996

 

Calvin Lyons, Jim’s cousin lived in Doaktown.  The Miramichi River runs right through the middle of that town.  In the early 1960's, there were a lot of salmon in the Miramichi River, and Calvin Lyons loved to fish salmon.  James visited Calvin quite frequently, and during his visits they would go fishing.  It was Calvin who convinced James that he should start tying salmon flies. He told him that if they were going to fish for salmon they would need a good supply of salmon flies.  James took the hint and began to tie a few salmon fly patterns.  It was not long before his flies were catching fish.  This resulted in him tying more and more salmon flies.  Before he knew it, he was tying salmon flies “full tilt.”  “Full tilt” is what Miramichier’s say when they are doing a lot of something, or something a lot.  Before he knew it, James was hooked on tying salmon fly patterns.  He was now doing a lot more salmon fishing, and realized he had gone from trout fisherman to the salmon fisherman.


 

 

 

James Harriman 1996

 

During the years he fished for trout and salmon, James met an uncountable number of anglers on the brooks and rivers. One person he met, while trapping in the Cains River area, was the now famous Miramichi fly tier, Bert Miner.  They became very close friends.  Bert was also an excellent fisherman, guide and trapper. James had the same interests as Bert and together, for many years they fished and trapped in the same areas.  They exchanged flies and fly tying information, and were always discussing new and unused patterns. James was also in close contact with Earle Wilson, another well-known fly tier from Moncton.    

As it is with most New Brunswick fly tiers, they are pretty well self-taught.  James Harriman was no different.  With the help from books, pictures, information collected from fishermen and other fly tiers, and with many years of practice, he became an outstanding tier.  He loved experimenting with what he called “off pattern” flies.  By “off pattern” it meant experimenting with the standard patterns by taking away or adding materials to the standards.  James found he come up with some very interesting patterns, ones that were as equally productive in catching fish.

Not only did James Harriman tie thousands of trout and salmon flies, he has shown many people how to do it.  On weekends he would do fly tying demonstrations, at the Miramichi Salmon Museum in Doaktown, New Brunswick.  It would be impossible to guess how many trout and salmon flies James Harriman has tied, since he started in 1940, and James tied flies right up until a short time before his untimely death in 1997.  In a questionnaire I asked James to fill out in 1996, I asked him if he ever received any awards or commendations. James wrote, “Just Thanks.”

James had many favourite patterns, but one of his all-time favourites was a little fly he created himself called “The Mosquito.” It is tied with a black body, grey wings and mixed hackle.  James had great success with the little fly.  Every fisherman should have “The Mosquito” as part of their fly collection.  Fly tiers should tie and promote the fly because according to James Harriman it is one of the very best trout flies he ever used.  He considered the “Green Butt Black Bear” his favourite salmon fly. 

In 1986 he caught his largest salmon, weighing nearly 20 pounds, on a “Green Butt Butterfly.”  He caught that fish in the Southwest Miramichi River.

James Harriman believed the rivers in New Brunswick were too privatised.  This meant less open fishing pools available to anglers.

In a letter from friends who James guided over the years, they wrote:

“James Harriman thoroughly enjoyed his time on the river. He was a true naturalist, sharing his knowledge of the eastern Canada wilderness with the sports he was guiding.  Jim made a day on the Miramichi more than a fishing trip, but a total appreciation for the natural beauty of God’s great outdoors.”

Jim shared with us more than his sharp skills required to hook salmon, he shared a friendship that all who knew him cherished.  Although we all miss him dearly, we thank God for the times we shared with him and the fond memories that live on within us all.  We look forward to the time when we will be reunited with Jim once again.

The Mosquito

 

Body:               Black wool or floss      

Wings:              Grey feather

Hackle:             Mixed

 

 

 

Mosquito originated and tied by James Harriman

Flie tied by Jim Harriman in the 1990's