Louis Ralph “Louie” McAloon

1917 - 1986 

Louie McAloon worked as a tax collector.  Every weekday he would get out of bed early, have his breakfast, and off to work he’d go with his suit on a hanger.  You see, Louie McAloon could not resist the urge to go fishing, so before he reported for work he would make sure he had enough time to stop and fish in the Nashwaak River. One morning, a few minutes before his pre-planned time to leave the river, he hooked a great big salmon.  A decision had to be made, and made quickly.  Would he break the line and go to work, or land the salmon?

Louis Ralph McAloon was born in Stanley, New Brunswick on November 19, 1917.  His parents were the late Jessie (nee Keenan) and Edward McAloon.  Edward McAloon was a guide and fisherman at an early age.  He fished and guided mostly on the Northwest Miramichi, and Tobique River.  It is little wonder that the urge to fish and be close to the river was born within Louie.

In the late 40’s Louie had a serious bout with tuberculosis.  He was in and out of the hospital regularly for more than three years.  When he was finally able to get away from the constant visits to the hospital he began to spend more time in the out-of-doors.  He could not resist the freedom of the outdoors, and the beauty of nature.  For the remainder of his life he would keep the freedom of the outdoors and being in it a priority.  He appreciated its peaceful atmosphere.

He became interested in making fly rods long before he started tying flies.  He was very enthusiastic about making and repairing rods, and about half the fishing rods in, and around Stanley were either made or repaired by Louie McAloon. 

Being able to fly fish wasn’t a problem providing you had the flies to fish with.  More than often Louie didn’t have salmon flies and was continually scrounging what little money he could to buy them, but it seemed that he was always without flies, unless of course he could bum or borrow the odd one.  For a few years he gathered a lot of flies that were ones that, either the fish wouldn’t take, or that no one else would use.  So with the same enthusiasm he used to make rods, he began to gather materials he would use for fly tying.

 

Louis Ralph “Louie” McAloon circa 1985

 In 1952, when Louie began tying flies, the equipment he used was very simple. He made an old vice, which he used for a long time, until he purchased a factory made vice that lasted him the rest of his life.  He applied the head cement to the hooks with a big sewing needle that had the eye end stuck into a small wooden knob handle.  His materials were obtained form the local wild and domestic animals, and he bartered for the other materials that were not so easy to come by.  Although he lacked the best materials Louie was still able to construct salmon flies that were the envy of not only the local fishermen, but also by the salmon swimming in the pools on the beautiful Nashwaak River.  So, with his collection of old worn-out salmon flies, Louie started copying their patterns.  Before long the flies that would otherwise have been discarded was brought back to life with new materials.  They were never restored to the exact specifications because Louie didn’t have the identical materials.  He managed to get the patterns pretty close by substituting what materials he had that was similar to the original on the fly. Sometimes he would use Bear hair instead of Black Squirrel, Racoon instead of Silver Fox, Starling feathers in the place of Jungle Cock, and so, and so on.  The substitution of these materials was responsible for the development of some new patterns, however they were never renamed.  It’s easy to understand why a salmon fly in Stanley, New Brunswick would have the same name as a similar fly in Blackville or Saint John, but on closer examination of the fly one could sometime see noticeable differences brought about by the substitution of materials.  The “Green Machine” is a good example. One tier could substitute green chenille for buck tail in the body of the fly, and wrap the body hackle with a reverse angle, or delete the butt, and still call it the “Green Machine.” 

Byron Moore from Fredericton used to go on many fishing trips with Louie.  Byron used Louie’s flies, and found them to be most durable. Just recently he broke one of the flies while fishing. The fly, which was used many times before, was more twenty years old.  He remembers Louie patterning all his own flies, and knew exactly which ones worked in certain areas.

Giant Glen is a salmon pool located about three to four miles above Stanley.  In 1975, Louie and Byron were fishing Giant’s Glen, where a large school of salmon was holding.  Louie spent several hours casting just about every fly he had over the salmon, but they wouldn’t take.  He waded out of the pool, and told Byron he was going back to the house and tie a few patterns he thought might work.  About an hour later he returned with several flies.  He tied one of the flies on and waded into the pool.  After making several casts he hooked a nice salmon. After landing the fish he stepped back into the pool and several casts later he hooked into another salmon.  He landed that fish, and then named the fly, “Giant’s Glen.”  Years later he was still catching salmon on the same pattern.  Louie also designed an “Orange Bomber” that he used to locate fish.  The fly was tied with medium orange deer hair, on an offset hook.  As strange as it may seem, the “Orange Bomber” was great for locating fish, but the fish rarely took the fly. Salmon will go after it, roll for it, nose it, but very seldom will they take it.

Louie was well known in Stanley as a fly tier.  He taught fly tying to a number of people there.  Mrs. Margaret Best, and the late Mrs. Patricia Hickey, both from Stanley, was two fly tiers who took lessons from him.

Louie’s daughter, Patricia remembers how much her father loved fly tying and fishing.  “My father was colour blind.  When he was tying flies he would have to ask one of us kids what colour the material was. Whenever we went driving he was always watching for dead animals along the road, so he could get materials.  When he was lucky enough to find a road-kill, he would get out and chop tails off squirrels, or pluck feathers from birds.  As a child I always found what he did to be rather gruesome, but we were just to young to understand it all back then.  His collection of materials grew and grew.  Eventually he built a separate room onto the house just for his fly tying,” says Patricia.

 

Louie, shown here on the left, and a fishing friend at a place he loved best

 “I always wondered what my father found so interesting in the river.  Many times I watched him leave for work with his suit on a hanger. Whenever I seen him do this I knew he was going to fish before he went to the office.  My father would fish for hours.  Mother never knew when to prepare his supper.  She could never figure out when he was going to come home.  When I was quite young I decided I was going fishing with my dad.  I wanted to learn how to cast, but after about twenty minutes he decided I wasn’t fishing material, so he took me home.  I figured I talked too much, and this scared the fish away.  When I look back at all of this now it makes me chuckle.  I realize now that my dad needed the peace and quiet that the river provided,” says Patricia.

There is a pool located near “Birch Island” that is named “Louie’s Pool.”  The residence there named it after him because Louie was the only fisherman who was successful at catching fish there.

Roy McAloon told a story about Louie fishing at the “Middle Brook Pool.”  Louie hooked a great big salmon around eight o’clock in the morning and played the fish until he lost it at one o’clock in the afternoon.  A large crowd gathered to watch the battle, and in the end Louie was worn out.  The fish was guessed at weighing close to 30-pounds.  This wasn’t the same fish that Louie hooked on the morning he was going to work.  Louie chose to land the fish, and take his chances with the boss for being late at the office.  When he arrived for work in his fishing cloths he apologized to his co-workers.  He took his co-workers to the car and the showed them the beautiful salmon, and explained to them why he was late.  His boss and all the staff were very impressed. Louie’s boss probably got a feed of salmon for Louie was very generous with his catches.  Whenever possible Louie saw to it that his salmon were shared with family and friends. 

 

 

By Louis McAloon

By Jerome Molloy

Giant’s Glen

Head:  Black
Tag: Very fine oval tinsel
Tail: Small Golden Pheasant crest
Body:

Rear Half: The rear half of the body is divided into two equal sections.  The lime or green section is next to the tag. Fluorescent green or lime coloured floss, or yarn, and fluorescent red or orange floss, or wool  Front Half: Black yarn, or floss.

Rib: Oval gold tinsel wrapped only on the front half of the body
Throat: Black hackle
Wing:  Black Bear hair, or black Squirrel
Cheeks: Large Jungle Cock that extends to the rear of the black yarn on the body.