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
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.
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
By Louis McAloon
By Jerome Molloy
Very fine oval tinsel
Small Golden Pheasant crest
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
Oval gold tinsel wrapped only
on the front half of the body
Black Bear hair, or black
Large Jungle Cock that extends
to the rear of the black yarn on the body.