Albert John Henderson

1920-2009

             Albert John Henderson was born on April 15, 1920 in North Esk, New Brunswick.  He Died January 12th 2009. A great loss to the Fly Tyers of New Brunswick. Many thanks to John for his generosity in allowing the publication of his stories from his book.

            In 1962, the price of salmon flies inspired John to begin tying his own.  His friend, Lee Wulff, encouraged him.  During his thirty-two years of tying, he experimented with both hair-wing and feather-wing patterns.  He successfully developed a number of creations that produced satisfactory catches.  Some of these patterns are recorded in his book “The Meandering Writings of a Master Angler”, published in 1993.  Since there are only one hundred limited copies of his book, it is a sought after collection of fine fishing stories and fly patterns.

 

A. John Henderson tying flies in the Late 1970s

 

            His favourite feather-wing fly is the “Jock Scott.”  His favourite hair-wing fly is the “Black Ghost.”  There are too many flies to mention to pick his favourite one to tie.  John Henderson is a Master fly tyer.  Until his sight failed him there wasn’t a fly pattern he couldn’t tie.

            John has fished for trout, Atlantic salmon, Pacific salmon, Arctic grayling and steelhead since the age of ten.  Sixty-five years of astute observation and dedicated practice with the fly rod, and thirty-two years at the fly tying vise have given him unusual insight into fishing and fly tying. In 1994, a cataract developed on his right eye. This, combined with glaucoma, caused John to quit tying, but he still continues to fish.           

John served twenty-eight years in the regular army.  This allowed him to see a lot of the world; some good, some not so good.  The Canadian Armed Forces made it possible for him to fish some of the best places in the world.  He now day dreams and recalls the unspoiled rivers and streams he knew in days when he was young.  “Life is short.  It passes away quickly, and its power weakens as it nears its close”, says John.

 

A. John Henderson tying flies in 1991

             John has caught many fish.  The largest was a 178-pound tuna.  He caught a 30 pound 11 ounce Atlantic salmon and a 45-pound Chinook or Pacific salmon.  His favourite spot to fish is “Brown's Pool” on the Northwest Miramichi River.

 

A.                 John Henderson fishing at “Brown's Pool” on the Northwest Miramichi River

June 15, 1989

             John Henderson is of the belief that until recently the largest commercial Atlantic salmon catches were made at the mouths of native rivers.  It is the high seas fishery, now guided by electronic fish finding gear and aided by improved nets and craft that endangers the Atlantic salmon.  Fishermen who have no idea from where they come can net a large share of the fish from Canadian rivers.  Most controversial of the high seas fishing is in the vicinity of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.  The Danes, who control Greenland and its salmon rivers, were leaders in the disastrous harvest of Atlantic salmon.  It was a matter of locating the concentration of fish, which had probably been there all along, and which may have been enlarged through some change of migration routes.  Netting regulations are relatively easy to enforce at river mouths.  On the high seas, rules are a different matter.  If the state of affairs in general don't change, the wild Atlantic salmon will go the way of the extinct flightless “do-do bird.”   

            At the age of eighty-five, John Henderson can still talk fly-fishing and fly tying patterns with the very best.  He is a master on the subject.

 ©                 “Green Matuka Streamer”

   Tied by A. John Henderson, November 1991

 

  “Gold and Black Streamer Tied by A. John Henderson, November 1991