Over the weekend Boston fly fishing legend Jack Gartside passed away at the age of 66. You can read the full Boston Globe obituary here.
A devotee of trout fishing, Mr. Gartside spent so much time fishing in and near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming that for a while his car was registered in Montana.
Then, he logged so many hours in the salt water around Boston that his writings about the best locations became indispensable to those who want to fish the harbor.
“I’ve fished with some of the greats, and Jack was as good, if not better, than anyone I’ve fished with,” said Dave Skok, a Winthrop neighbor and fly-fishing ambassador for the Patagonia clothing and gear company. “The same goes for his fly-tying. His flies were exquisite, and his casting and fishing style was precise and graceful. And he was tall and lanky, so he kind of looked like a heron. He didn’t just act like one.”
Gartside was well known throughout the fly fishing circles, and especially around Boston. He was known for having created one of the truly great striper flies, the Gartside Gurgler, which is a mainstay of every New Englander’s saltwater kit.
Here is Jack Gartside himself tying Gartside’s Secret Sand Eel as filmed by The Herald News of Fall River.
Check out the Reel-Time.com Forum for remembrances of Jack.
I first met and heard Jack when he spoke to Andover Fly Fishers sometime in the 1970s on trout fishing Montana. I didn’t see Jack again until one foggy morning my friend Don Harris and I were fishing Boston Harbor out of Quincy. As we came around one of the smaller islands, I hollared to Don to go out around the buoy at the tip of the gravel spit. Don suggested I look again, that it was a fisherman. Sure enough, as we drifted by, I could make him out and Jack asked how we were doing. We chatted till he suggested we land around the other side. We did and went ashore. After a long chat, Jack suggested several places we could fish in the area. I don’t remember how we did other than that we did catch Stripers that day.
After that, Jack’s tying spot at the Wilmington and Marlboro shows were magnets each winter and we enjoyed seeing and talking with him. I bought all of his books and have today a framed Gurgler under a picture of Boston Harbor Light that I bought from Jack.
In my 3 score and 14 years, I’ve met a number of New England Fishing Greats. Jack is certainly one of them, next to Coot Hall, Bob Pond and Paul Kukonen – folks who immortalized sports fishing in New England.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jack quite a few years ago when he agreed to my request to come to New Hampshire, and give a class on some of his saltwater patterns. I recall meeting him at a convenient park and ride, and loading his “stuff” into my vehicle to travel to Contoocook where the class was to be held.
Jack got right to work, and put an end to the typical banter between fishermen, and had us pay strict attention to his instructions. It was a great class, and a lot was learned by all along with some of Jack’s stories.
I recall him telling us of the promotional flight he won to New Zealand by showing up in dress to indicate his destination which was, of course, a renouned trout fishery . I believe he wore shorts and a “down under” hat as part of his garb. He said he borrowed from friends to make the trip, and returned with just change in his pocket. Jack certainly knew how to live.
Another story was about his education to be an English teacher, I believe. After a trial period he said he found it safer to drive cab in Boston than to teach school there.
Jack was a funny guy, an innovative tyer, and a credit to the fly fishing community. He will be missed.
God Bless Him. WE have so few men who live & die for our sport. Wait until the day of the death of the great Lefty Kreh. Is not the death of Jack Gartside equal as a human and fly fisherman?