Leslie Junior Somerville
Leslie Junior Somerville was
born on January 28, 1931 in Saint John New Brunswick and is the son of the
late Lila and Kenneth Somerville. He lived most of his life in Glen Falls,
New Brunswick and worked as an ambulance driver at the General Hospital in
Saint John for 35 years. Now he resides in Kars, New Brunswick.
Les has always been interested
in fishing. He has fond memories of the days when he was just a little boy
fishing in the Glen Falls Brook near his home. He remembers how he would tie
a line to an old stick, or branch and pull on his sneakers and wade the brook
in search of trout. He would wade the brook from the dam to the marsh. “Back
then there were all kinds of brook trout, and big sea trout that would go up
into the brooks. Boy, what a great time that was. Those days are gone, but I
still have all the wonderful memories”, says Les.
Les started tying flies in 1958
after he attended a fly tying course that was put on by the New Brunswick Fish
and Game Association at Lilly Lake. Anyone could attend the free fly tying
classes. “It was a very good thing and the people putting on the course were
very good people”, says Les. After two tying sessions Les had acquired the
fundamentals for tying and this was enough to get him started. From then on
he got fly tying material and equipment of his own and started tying flies in
the privacy of his home. Tying flies became a passion for Les. “It is a lot
of fun and it seemed to fit right in with my other interest, taxidermy, which
I did for many years. Taxidermy gave me easy access to assorted fur, hair and
feathers. I mounted a lot of animals and fish over the years”, says Les.
He maintains that the more
flies he tied, the more he learned. The more he learned, the better he got.
He prefers tying the hair wing flies, but has tied the fully dressed
patterns. For him, tying flies is an excellent way of relaxing and it can be
less expensive than buying them. Most of his tying is done for his own use,
but he gave many of his flies to other anglers.
Les Somerville had been an avid
trout fisherman from the time he was a kid. From 1960 to 1965 had been
fishing a bit for salmon near the Reversing Falls in Saint John. Then, one
day in that same year a friend took him salmon fishing on the Salmon River.
During this trip he was amazed at how crystal clear and clean the river was.
The fishermen were catching these beautiful salmon. “They were the most
beautiful fish I ever saw. They had small heads and bass shaped bodies”, says
Les. As he watched the anglers hook and land salmon he thought to himself,
“Boy, this is fun”. After Les hooked and landed his first Atlantic salmon he
never returned to the brooks.
Once he got catching salmon he
became almost obsessed with fly tying and angling. He found himself heading
to the river in the very early morning hours before going to work. “The feel
of a striking salmon and the battle is fun. Landing it is a bonus. But the
memories of the beautiful rivers and the friends you meet there are the real
rewards. I revisit those memories many, many times”, says Les.
In 1974 Les originated a salmon
fly called the “Hammond River Bug”. Les says, “I created this fly after
watched a chap named Curtis Olive, from Saint John, fishing in the slack water
of the pool where I had been fishing. Curtis was hooking fish on a miniature
deer hair bomber, or bug type fly, that he had trimmed down real small. After
casting the fly out he let it soak up water and sink just below the surface.
Then he would slowly pull the fly through just enough to give the hackle
wrapping around the body of the fly some action. It just looked like some
kind of a bug going through the water too. When it was sunk and retrieved in
this manner the fish would attack it. I was thinking, why couldn’t I tie a
similar fly with yarn. It would get wet much quicker and sink even faster. I
went home and tied what is now the “Hammond River Bug” and as soon as I
started fishing it I started catching fish all over the place. I began giving
the fly to other people to try and it has worked well for those who will
chance trying it. Many fishermen between Saint John and Miramichi have had
success with this fly, and its so easy to tie.
In 1972 Les caught his largest
fish, a 22-pound salmon in the Hammond River, on a “Hammond River Bug”. He
has to admit that it is his favorite fly, but he has a few other flies that he
fishes such as the “Butterfly” and a fly called “The Damon”, originated by
David Demon, who is also from Saint John.
On March 12, 2005 I asked Les
to name his favorite fly tyer. Les laughed and said, “Me! I’d have to say me,
because I tied all my own flies, which caught fish. I didn’t have anyone else
tying flies for me. Couldn’t afford it and there wasn’t that many fly tyers
handy to me to get flies from. The odd time someone would give me a fly, but
I tied all my own”. He did admit that he likes the flies that are tied by
local fly tyers James Forret, David Damon and Harry Pickrell.
One of the weirdest flies he
ever seen used successfully to catch salmon is a fly called “The Bone
Crusher”. “A guy named Hank Carson from British Columbia fished it. The fly
consists of a few strands of brightly colored marabou feathers. It looks like
a great big dry fly when it is dry, but the minute you get it wet it looks
horrible. The fish seemed to like it, or maybe they took it because they
hated it”, says Les.
Les hasn’t fished,
nor tied many flies for the last couple of years, but he plans to get back
into it. He may also take up fishing striped bass near his home in the Belle
“Hammond River Bug” originated by Leslie
Somerville in 1974
Tied by Leslie Somerville November 2000
Origin of the Hammond River Bug
The “Hammond River Bug” was
originated in 1974 by Leslie Somerville from Saint John, New Brunswick. It
was created for fishing the lower Hammond River’s deep slower moving waters.
Originally tied on a #6 turned down eyehook, it was found to be equally
effective in both smaller and larger sizes.
With this fly the retrieve is
all-important. At times a slow rhythm will work and on other occasions the
line is stripped in short erratic jerks. Either way the fly must cut just
below the surface of the water and be retrieved so that the hackles move back
and forth to give the fly a “swimming alive” appearance.
The original fly was very
simple to tie consisting of white wool for visibility wrapped on the hook as
nearly cigar shaped as possible. One brown saddle hackle wrapped around the
body three or four turns for a size #6 hook (or approximately 1/8” between
wraps). For the tail, a half dozen deer hair tips which protrude 1/4" or 3/8”
from the bend of the hook.
Hook: Size 2-8
Body: White wool
Body Wrap: Brown saddle hackle
Tail: Deer hair tips
Take a few turns of thread to the tail and tie in six deer hair tips letting them
protrude about 1/4” or 3/8” beyond the
bend of the hook. At this time also tie
in the brown saddle hackle at the bend
of the hook and bring the thread back to
the eye and tie in the white wool for the
body wrapping from the eye of the hook
to the bend and back and tie off. Try to
make the body as cigar shaped as possible.
Next, wrap the hackle from the bend of the
hook 3 or 4 wraps and tie off at the eye.
Make head cover with black head cement.