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 friends. 

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

Tied by 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 salmon. 

            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.