Lawrence Rexford Tracy
Decembe 6th 1926 to February 1st 2012
Lawrence Rexford Tracy was born
in Fredericton Junction, New Brunswick on December 6, 1926. He is the son of
the late Nellie Mae (nee Segee) and Harvey Cyrus Tracy.
Larry on the Margaree (by Jack Rowell)
Larry, as his friends call him,
lived in Fredericton Junction until 1944. In 1945 he moved to Saint John, New
Brunswick and on August 10th of that year he went to work for the
Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). He worked as a brakeman with C.P.R. until
1962. After leaving C.P.R. he work NBTel until 1990.
He started fishing
when he was about 9-years old. As a boy he would fish the Gullison Brook,
which was located about a mile from his home in Fredericton Junction. At the
age of 14-\ he would bicycle several miles to Boone Brook where he would fish
sea trout. Larry Tracy craved fishing and would go anywhere so he could do
it. Seventy years later he is still crazy about the sport.
Larry Tracy 2005
Larry started tying
flies in 1959. It all began when Clarence Thomas, a fly tyer from Saint John,
New Brunswick, and who was working as a conductor for C.P.R. talked Larry into
tying flies. Clarence got him a vice, bobbin and hackle pliers. Larry
ordered some big rolls of tinsel, which he still has on the same rolls, and
other material from Herters. Then the fun began. Larry and Clarence became
great friends and spent many evening’s together tying flies by the light of a
kerosene lamp in a train caboose in McAdam Junction.
Larry was never a commercial fly
tyer. He sold some flies whenever the opportunity presented itself, but he
maintains that he gave away more flies than what he ever sold. Larry told me
that at one time he used to carry four boxes of flies everywhere he went. Now
he only carries two fly boxes, and these boxes aren’t full of flies he uses.
Most of them he will give away. When he started tying flies he thought he had
to have four to five hundred flies with him at all times. He eventually came
to the realization that he was only using four, or five different patterns, so
he decided to cut back. Nowadays he only ties flies for his own use, or for
Larry is strictly a hair wing
fly tyer. He tried tying the fully dressed patterns, but decided they are
just too much bother. His favorite fully dressed salmon fly is the “Silver
Grey”. He caught his first Atlantic salmon on July 4, 1953 on a Hardy Bros.,
#6 “Brown Fairy” while fishing the Cross Channel Pool, located east of the
mill in Doaktown.
His favorite hair wing fly is
one of his own creations. Larry maintains that it was just by fluke that the
fly evolved. This is how it happened.
“L.T. Special” Originated by Lawrence Rexford Tracy
Lawrence R. Tracy in February 2005
In 1984 Larry was spending a
lot of time fishing on the Cains River. The water was high that year and
there were some good runs of fish going. He met a lot of fishermen during
this time and took note of specific flies the other anglers were using. They
were having success with the “Mickey Finn”, “Copper Killer”, “Cains Copper”,
“Chief Needabeh” and the Allie’s Shrimp. Larry wanted to tie a fly that he
could use when the Cains got a raise in water. He had noticed that whenever a
good rain fell the water in the river turned almost a reddish-brown color,
something like the color of strong tea with a little milk added to it. He
tied the fly encompassing similarities of all the other flies the other
anglers were using. He began by using a hot orange tying thread to make the
butt and throughout. He used diamond braid for the body in place of the
copper used in the rib and body on the Copper Killer. He wanted the fly to
have a “gaudy” look about it so decided to make the wing in two parts. To do
this he made the bottom half of the wing from hot orange buck tail hair and
over this he put Kelly green buck tail. He also wanted the fly to be as
bright as he could, so he used mixed yellow and red hackle tied in as a
collar. He finished the fly with a head of hot orange thread.
Larry began using the fly with
much success. About a year later his son Terry was fishing Victor’s Bar,
situated below Taylor’s Motel in Doaktown. He started fishing through the
pool and hooked and landed a nice grilse on the fly. Larry, who was with a
guest at the time, gave his rod to his guest and no sooner had the guest
started through the pool than he hooked and landed a salmon. Terry took the
rod and started through the pool again when he hooked and landed another
After the three fish
were landed on the “L.T. Special” Terry was standing around talking to some
people who had gathered on the beach. Vince Beek, who was on the opposite
side of the river watching the action, came across the river in his boat and
wanted to know what Terry was catching the fish on. Terry told Vince that it
was an old fly his father had tied. Vince wanted to know if Terry had one he
could give him and Terry told Vince that the only one he had was still on the
rod. Vince wandered off and after a while Terry realized that Vince had taken
the fly with him. A short time later Terry went back to camp where he met
Larry and told him what happened. Terry said he was going to name the fly.
Terry named it after his father, thus it became the “L.T. Special”.
Larry, all excited by the story,
figured his fly was pretty hot and worth sharing, so he decided to go to W.W.
Doak’s Tackle Shop in Doaktown and give the pattern to Bruce Waugh who was
tying flies for Jerry Doak. He later learned that Bruce added three strands
of gold crystal flash in the wing. Larry didn’t mind, and maintains that the
fly is just as good with, or without the crystal flash. Immediately the fly
caught on and the rest is history. Doak started producing the fly and its
been popular ever since.
A few years ago Dr. Scott Boley,
a heart surgeon from New York, was going fishing in Russia and he wanted Larry
to tie him a half dozen flies to take with him. Larry’s selection of flies
for the doctor included the “L.T. Special”. The next year when Larry saw the
doctor he told Larry he was famous and that he was in the record book in
Russia. Apparently the doctor used the “L.T. Special” and in one week he
hooked 45 fish on it. Larry took it all as a joke and told the doctor that
the fish he was fishing would probably have taken anything.
Larry’s favorite fly tyer is
Bryant Freeman. “Bryant’s flies are so descriptive. That man has a great big
set of hands, which are just as nimble as can be. He can pick up a piece of
dirt from the floor and tie a fly with. He’s so creative, and one of the best
tyers I know”, says Larry. Larry enjoys teasing Bryant and often refers to
him as “Banana Fingers”.
Nowadays Larry spends a lot of
time in the summer at his camp in Doaktown. After the ice goes out in the
spring he begins fishing. During the winter months he teaches fly tying for
the Hammond River Angler Association in Saint John. He’s been doing this for
the last ten to twelve years. He occasionally guides for Guy Smith at Grey
Rapids Lodge. In September 1994 he caught two salmon on the “L.T. Special at
the Grey Rapid Lodge in Blackville. One salmon weighed 26 pounds and the
second one weighed 18 pounds. The late Delbert Coughlan from Barnettville
told Larry that in 1995 he witnesses Eric Coston from Saint John land a
35-pound salmon on the “L.T. Special”. Although he favours the “L.T. Special”
he is not about to cast aside the old favourite flies such as the “Green
Machine” and the green butt “Black Bear”, which he still catches fish on.
Larry has seen some strange
looking flies in his day, but one of the strangest was a fly that a guy was
using in Quarryville, New Brunswick. He watched a guy fish the fly tied onto
a short leader on a sinking tip line. The fisherman hooked and landed two
fish on a fly called “Grape”. It is a size 2/0 hook with only a couple of
strands of purple marabou and a couple of strands of crystal flash tied on as
a wing. That’s all. When it is dry it just looks like a great big dry fly,
but when you wet it the fly looks just like a leech. He was told that the
salmon attack the fly because to them it resembles the egg sucking leech,
which salmon see it as an enemy.
Larry is very pleased with the
salmon runs that have returned to the river’s pools over the last couple of
years, but he’s a bit disappointed in the number of places accessible to
fish. He figures there is less than a dozen pools that one can fish on the
main Southwest Miramichi River between Norad’s Bridge in Doaktown and the
mouth of the Renous River at Quarryville, New Brunswick.
He is pleased to see more sport
fishermen buying hook and release licenses these days. He believes that
people are beginning to get the message with respect to the need to protect
the Atlantic salmon. He can hardly wait for the 2005 fishing season to open.