Wilfred Isaac Ward
Wilfred Isaac Ward
was born on February 1, 1935 in Red Bank, New Brunswick, and is the son of
the late Mary Jane (nee Simon) and Francis Patrick Ward. Wilfred is a very
respected Mic Mac Indian, and member of the Red Bank First Nations. He is
very active in the preservation of his culture and heritage, and is held in
high esteem throughout his community and province.
tying flies in 1950. His father, who was a professional guide for nearly
fifty years, saw an urgent need to have a good supply of useable flies for
visiting sportsmen. He encouraged Wilfred to start tying flies so he could
provide the fishermen with the necessary patterns most successful for
catching salmon. He also knew Wilfred could make some extra cash by selling
the flies. The plan never worked because Wilfred, being a kind, gentle and
generous person ended up giving away more salmon flies than he ever sold.
Wilfred has always
tied the hair-wing patterns. He learned how to tie them by studying the
patterns found in different books. He experimented with different materials,
but was never able to conjure up a pattern that would act as a solo for
producing accurate results in any river, under any water or weather
conditions, to do so would have eliminated the need to carry so many fly boxes
and flies today. He decided to leaves the development of the perfect fish
catching fly to somebody else. He continues to tie flies on a regular basis,
supplying them for quests and friends. He does not sell his flies
commercially, and the last time he bought flies was from William Freeman
“Billy” Brown, the best fly tier in the country, according to Wilfred.
Wilfred remembers the
first fly he ever tied. He did so by using some hair from his big yellow pet
dog. The pet dog was an easy source of material that Wilfred frequently used,
but it never did fit to well with the dog.
guiding the same year he started tying flies. Warren Silliker, an outfitter
from Red Bank, hired Wilfred to guide Jimmy McDonough, a fish and game
biologist from Massachusetts. Wilfred took Jimmy on a river run through the
rough waters between Red Stone and Red Bank, on the Little Southwest Miramichi
River, in an old chestnut canoe. Neither to this day Wilfred, nor Jimmy can
remember a thing about the fishing that day, but they never forgot the river
run. Wilfred and Jimmy became very good friends and they fished together for
many years after that. Jimmy now has his own cabin on the river not far from
where he and Wilfred did most of their fishing.
Wilfred I Ward
1950 the canoe was the main vehicle for transporting the sportsmen to the
Square Forks some thirty miles up stream. It was a hard push for the guide,
but it was the only way the sports could get there. Wilfred witnessed his
father make the trip many a time when he worked for Harry Blackmore and Warren
Silliker, outfitters in the Sunny Corner area. The guide had to work hard
then, and he had to be able to handle a canoe. Hard work didn’t bother
Wilfred, but canoeing was another matter. Just getting a good canoe was a
bigger task than learning how to handle it. There was the time that Wilfred
got a twenty-two foot canoe made by Fred Johnson. It was the spring of the
year and the ice was still running in the river. He was in the process of
anchoring it in the Warren Silliker Pool, near the swinging bridge at
Sillikers. When Wilfred nosed the canoe into the pool and dropped the anchor
the current was so strong that when the canoe snagged up at the end of the
anchor rope the canvas let go and was torn off by the strong current. Wilfred
and his sport were lucky to make it to shore. For the last couple of yards
they waded in water to their chest, while the canoe sank to the bottom of the
river. That’s where Wilfred left it.
Wilfred’s father set
up a guiding outfit and Wilfred played a major part in helping guide the
sports that came there. He remembers the time in May in the 1970’s when a big
Greyhound bus landed at the camp with a fishing party. The bus was from
Nashville, Tennessee, and aboard it were Ray Price, Grandpa Jones, Stoney
Cooper, Wilma Lee, and a fiddler named Stoney. Frank Ward, Wilfred, Albert
Ward, and Leonard Tennass guided the party. That party had some of the
greatest fishing that ever happened on the Little Southwest Miramichi, and the
boys from Red Bank had the best entertainment they ever had in their lives.
Wilfred says he felt guilty for taking their money, and felt the guides should
have paid the entertainer instead. What a week she was on the Little Sou’west.
In 1984, Wilfred built
his own fishing lodge and named it the “The Broken Arrow.” Since he opened
the lodge Wilfred and his wife Shirley are kept busy all year hosting and
guiding the many guest who still come from around the world to fish and hunt.
Among his guest have been Wayne Jutras, Gaza Balante, and Paul Schmookler.
Wilfred fishes and
guides extensively on the Little Southwest and Northwest Miramichi Rivers.
His favourite salmon pool is the Boulder Pool, at the Oxbow on the Little
Southwest. However, it was at the Mitchell Pool, above Wilfred’s Lodge, in
the fall of 1976, where he caught his largest salmon on the Little Southwest
Miramichi River. The 28-pounder made the fatal mistake of latching onto
Wilfred’s #10 “Green Butt Black Bear.” It took a mile-long tug down the
river, and an hour-long bout between Wilfred and the salmon, before the fish
was finally beached. The “Green Butt Black Bear” has been Wilfred’s favourite
fly ever since.
Over the years Wilfred
has seen a lot of great fishing. He has also been witness to years when the
salmon stocks were low. The past couple of years have been like this. Years
ago you couldn’t buy meat so most people hunted and fished to provide for
their families. Today fishing and hunting is mostly for recreation. There
are so many people out there now that go after the animal just for the sport,
just to kill something, whether they intend to use it or not. He supports
those who intend to harvest and use the fish and animals, but every hunter and
fisherman must understand the process of management. Good management
practices will ensure a safe and healthy future for all living things.
Wilfred hears people
laying blame on countless reasons for the decline in the number of salmon
returning to the Miramichi. People accuse everything from native over-fishing,
to the seals that recently migrated into the Miramichi Bay. But, Wilfred
believes that there are other more serious factors that should be considered.
He believes the salmon will come back, but only if there is closer monitoring
and efforts to prevent pollution by ships out at sea. It is common practice
for large commercial vessels to empty their oils and pollutants into the sea
without ever being detected for doing it. This unlawful and reckless behaviour
is killing our environment and the creatures that inhabit it. The
continuation of such disregard for our earth may lead to the eventual
destruction of mankind. It is only through education of the people that we
might be able to stop the problem, but the probability of success appears to
be pretty low.
All the clear cutting
of the forest creates another problem. The rains and melting snow have
nothing to hold the water in the earth, and as quickly as the rains fall and
the snows melt the water runs quickly into the rivers washing with it
everything in its path. This has caused healthy brooks and salmon pools
become destroyed because of the build-up of silt and debris adding to other
problems for the salmon’s spawning beds.
children, and instilling in them a responsible attitude toward the environment
seems the only sensible thing to do. Education must be a continuous process.
Not long ago Wilfred wrote a proposal for the Red Bank Band to include in the
school curriculum, classes on conservation, especially for the methods of
preserving the Atlantic salmon. Teach the children to respect the fish, and
help them understand the practice of releasing salmon.
Contrary to the belief
of many, most of his people take only the fish they want for consumption.
Those who abuse the right are the true culprits who must be dealt with through
enforcement and the legal process, a duty that everyone has.
Green Butt Black
Tag: Oval silver tinsel
Tail: Black Bear hair
Butt: Green wool
Body: Black wool
Rib: Oval, or flat silver tinsel
Throat: Black hackle
Wing: Black Bear hair
Fly Photo to Follow