Art Burton [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Art Burton

02-27-2008, 07:37 AM
Captain Ray is having some technical difficulties getting onto the site. He asked me to post the following:

If I could save Time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'til Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

“Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce

Time is so precious …. What’s it really worth?
Depends on each individual.
An adolescent enjoys life to the fullest. They expect to see tomorrow and beyond.
Adults know about the passage of time.
They understand the complexities of life.
Relish the good times, feel the pain and suffering.
Adults know that tomorrow is promised to no one.
As you get older, you understand the odds better than anyone.

It is with deep regret that one of our fly fishing friends has not been feeling well and doesn’t expect to recover. Please keep Art Burton in your thoughts and prayers. We visited Art today at his home in North Smithfield. My son, wife, and I heard about the news late last week.

Art has always been a source of inspiration to us. His wealth of knowledge and his generosity has touched so many here on this site. He’s in good spirits considering all that he’s been through lately. Spent six days in the hospital. He has the love of his family all around him. Now it’s our turn as his friends to show him our appreciation.

Art cannot hear well so calling him by phone frustrates him. Art actively uses the Internet each day and communicates best that way. Visitors are welcome but he does get tired. He’s not one to sit still at home either. He still has projects to complete. If anyone wants to send a cheerful card or letter, I can provide his address.

Please keep Art in your thoughts.

02-27-2008, 07:57 AM
Sean, thanks very much for that. I had no idea he was not well or that it was not looking positive. I will send an e-mail to him. :(

02-27-2008, 08:17 PM
Thanks to Juro and his tweaking of the right buttons, I'm able to communicate on the Forum again.

Most of the newer members on the Fly Fishing Forum probably have no idea who Art Burton really is. And that's OK. He has been inactive here for some time.

Just as you may be new here, Art goes way back to the very beginning of this site. Matter of fact, he's the reason I post here. He was the one who told me about this site years ago when the Internet was at its infancy.

Art asked me if I would volunteer my expertise of RI and aid in helping out at the first Rhody Clave. That I did, but Art was the first to step forward and get this big fling off the ground.

You have to remember that saltwater fly fishing was just getting popular among the novices. Art was our mentor to so many newbies. Now it seems that everyone is caught up to speed on the knowledge and technology of the sport.

He took great pride in the fact that his name and picture appeared on this web site as a legend of the sport and a source of information. He was admired by all.

So I ask some of you old timers for your help. If you have story, moment, or a quip about Art that you could publicly share here on this thread..... please do so.

It would do a lot of us some good who cherrish his friendship. I think Art would be greatly appreciated your kindness too. I know Striblue interview him awhile ago about some history in fly fishing.

Thanks guys

Capt. Ray

02-27-2008, 08:45 PM
Thanks Ray and nice speaking with you this evening.... If Art will allow it I would love to post his interview on this site.... It's fun to read and some great history...with the likes of H. Gibbs and Al Brewster, etc. and other Rhoddy Fly guys going back years ago...PS. Maybe we can do a special section as has been done with other stories and include Art's History and stories. He can add to it as he wants since it is not edited and was written up by him and sent to me.

02-27-2008, 10:16 PM
I met Art in 2001, a few weeks after I retired and only a few days after the terrible 9-11 we all remember. Ray and others know well his generosity and open sharing of all he knows of flyfishing, I was one of many I'm sure who were at te receiving end of this wonderfull story teller. We agreed to meet somewhere on the beach in R.I. (if I recall correctly), at a local fishing shop/bait house et al. I got there and having never met Art, I inquired if any one knew him and that I was to meet him. "Oh, said one fellow, he's been riding up & down the strip in his truck for awhile". I went outside and Art saw me, turned into the parking lot and gently asked if I had told these folks where we were going. No, I said, since I had no idea where I was going. We then proceeded to a breach way, Quonnie I think, where Art told me that the spot we were going to was a "club members" only area but the he would vouch for me if anyone bothered us and that we would go to his favourite secret spot. We stopped about 100 yards into this sandy beach road and Art took the air out of the tires and explained why. Then he started telling me about his early days as a flyfisherman. I guess he was one of the original "fly fishers" in the salt and I was mesmorized with his stories, all the names of every person he had fished with and the rods they used, the flies and every secret he had for catching fish on the fly. He made sure that I did not venture to the lower rocks, at low tide, since they were extermely slippery, a few casts later, I had hooked a nice Striper, so here goes Art, at somewhere around 75 years of age, climbing down slippery rocks, to the waters edge with a boca grip, because, as he said, he really wanted me to hold this fish before we released him. Later on we spoke about trout fishing and he told me more stories. The next day, we went out with his son Art Jr. and that day I caught my first FA, I still remember Art Sr. coaching me about how to play this fish and get it to the boat. Then, in a somewhat uncerimonious but also somewhat official manner, Art Sr. presented me with one of his trout flies, complete with the name tag you see in the picture, and told me all about how & why he had created this pattern. I've only fished this fly once and immediatly caught a very large Brown trout back home. Since then, I've kept this fly as part of my "collectibles" so here it is, my way of sharing back for Art.
Art, if you get to read this, I hope these memories give you a bit of a sense of how much I appreciated your presence and all the gifts that come with meeting a great fly fisherman!
Or maybe one of the guys can print this note and bring it to you.

02-28-2008, 07:34 AM
Wow, this news comes as a shock to me this morning. Art has given tons and asked for nothing in return. A mentor to many is correct; he certainly helped shepard me into this sport. Whethere fishing from his truck or from his inflatable boat, he certainly is a master of this sport.

My thoughts are with him and his loved ones.

02-28-2008, 07:57 AM
No specific stories from me, just great memories of times on the beach and in the boat with this very kind, very generous man. Art's about as classy as they come.

Tried uploading a picture of Art with a Watch Hill albie when he and I were guests on his son's boat--no joy. I'll try again later.

Art, you're in my thoughts and prayers. Get well soon, my friend.


02-28-2008, 08:12 AM
No specific stories from me either, having only fished with Art once and that was one of the ice breakers. We did talk for quite awhile while hiking up to the dam on the Seekonk R. Hope you get well soon, you're too young to go just yet, Art.

02-28-2008, 09:44 AM
I'm so sorry to hear this.

It's been a couple of years since I last met Art. It was a week-day evening at Quonny in mid summer.

The crowds were almost gone for the day and the sun was settling into a hazy Western horizon.

Only fishermen remained. Oh, and the fish were there too :smokin:

02-28-2008, 01:06 PM
Here is a copy of what wrote up for me a couple years ago: The discusion was to be primarily on flies used. Art was going to add to this and revise it where he saw fit. Ray PM'd me saying it was ok to post. I wonder whether I should separate this on a stand alone thread with a title?

"1 ) I was born in Fall River Ma. 1/19/29 . I moved to Rehoboth Ma. in 1936. Started fishing with my dad in the Coles, and Palmer Rivers. The palmer River was about one half mile from my house. My dad bought me my first fly rod when I was 10. When I was about 12 I caught my first trout. which was on a bivisible. Wreaked three flies that day at .35 cents ea. About 1943 or 1944 I met Al Brewster while fishing the Palmer. He took me in, literally into his family. During the summer we met most nights and fished together. He started me into fly tying and saltwater fly fishing. We both joined and belonged to South Seekonk Gun Club where the fly fishers around the area all belonged. Harold Gibbs, Rube Cross, Rube Richmond, Ed Materne, Milt Hall, Jim Seiford, Joe Shultz, Bill Swartz, and others who’s names escape me. I t was located in South Rehoboth right next to the herring run on the Palmer River below Shad Factory Pond. One of the first places I learned about conservation as the club helped the State of Mass. rebuild the herring run. Must have done a good job as it is still working today. The last time I visited it, about 4 years ago there were herring ascending the run. For tying flies Al and I bought from Herter’s. In fact I have one of their catalogs that I have kept over the years. They also had an excellent Fly tying book with a chapter on What fish feed on.

2) At every possible time I fished fresh and salt-water probably about 60 % fresh, and 40% salt. Salt water was mostly around eastern Narragansett Bay, Warren, Barrington, There was many places that one could fish that had a tide rip which even back then thought that a rip is necessary to give the fly good action, and the fish would lie in the rip ambushing the bait that drifted by. Many of the places are off limits today for a lot of different reasons, no parking, private property, and too many boats. One place we had fun was among the moorings of The Barrington Yacht Club. Many a night took lots of stripers on Al’s Shrimp fly, just like catching trout on a dry fly. I would say we fished from shore 99% of the time.

3) Primarily I fished with Al Brewster for stripers, but I had also fished with Harold Gibbs, Joe Shultz, Bill Swartz, Jim Seiford, for stripers fished with “Gibbs Striper Fly” and “Al’s Shrimp Fly”. I also fished quite a bit for the American Shad in the lower part of the Palmer River using “The Shad Fly” with three plastic beads ahead of it, red white red.

4) When I first started fishing for stripers I used Harold’s “Gibbs Striper Fly” or a blue and white streamer. A little later fished a lot with “Al’s Shrimp Fly” I know quite a few of the traditional salmon flies were used but didn’t work out that well.

5) I think that at least in our area quickly figured that flies were going to have to be developed to imitate the saltwater baitfish, or something to attracted them. I know I fished with Harold, and Al many before I caught my first striper on a fly rod. I used their rods, and flies after they caught a fish they would hand me their rod and use my rod, they would catch another bass and I would still get skunked. It taught me to be persistent. I could be wrong, but back then the basics was to imitate the silverside. Back then a legal striper was sixteen inches to the fork in the tail.

6) With a fly rod I fished for stripers, shad, white perch, salmon, one period 1953 and 1954 I fished for tarpon from one of the seaplane ramps at the Naval Station in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Caught a couple of small tarpon, and had one hit that scared the crap out of me. It was a huge fish. Fishing saltwater with a fly rod in Massachusetts and RI. Fresh water I have fished all the New England states, NY, and Pa. And Canada. Used Blue and white streamers, “Al’s Shrimp Fly”, and Harold’s “Gibbs Striper.” I had very good luck catching salmon, and several other kinds of fish on my glorified “Mickey Finn.” I had given the pattern to several friends who also had good luck fishing it, in fact one friend Harry Cary from East Providence told me it saved one of his salmon fishing trips to Quebec, the only fly that caught any fish on a fishing trip. I wrote about this fly in the eighties for UFT “ Roundtable” magazine.

7) I seem to remember tying most flies on the shortest hooks available, back then it was a Mustard 1/0. I haven’t seen any lately. I think I have a couple left from them days. The hooks were so short the buck tail couldn’t wrap around the shank. That was one of the problems back then. Even today I see that happening on lots of the synthetics.

8) I don’t have any flies that I can say is mine, especially salt-water. Fresh-water yes. See #6 Which I had caught Atlantic Salmon, Coho Salmon, stripers, bluefish, I just added flashabou to the Mickey Finn.

9) Al Brewster and I have had a lot of discussions on flies. One of Al’s patterns, “the shrimp fly” he came up with after the night before we fished all night over stripers without taking one fish, having them run against our waders. We always were trying to come up with a bait matching color. We even did some dying trying to get the right color. Harold was always talking about matching colors of the bait whether dry, wet, streamers, fresh or salt he felt that color was the most important.

10) Harold Gibbs was a person who was very scientific, in fact, he had a lab right on the bank of the Palmer River, up above the bridge on the Warren River which changes to be named the Palmer. He was artificially inseminating quahogs for Luther Blount of Blount’s Seafood. He was working also on breeding chickens for their hackles, trying to develop a natural blue-dun. He also carved miniature birds. He always had the time to talk fly tying or fly fishing, Harold use to like to go to Canada to fish for the Atlantic Salmon, which was impossible during the second world war. He and his brother, Frank who I didn’t know, started fishing for, and catching stripers on flies with a fly rod and flies. He never claimed to start it, in fact he always maintained that there was many others.

11) Fishing philosophy back then was to take the time to show others the art of fly fishing, and tying without the thought of turning a profit. Today the so called masters are looking for big bucks on showing how to cast or tie. Lots of the young folks today find it difficult to get started. I am not really an expert as far as casting, or fly tying, but I am always ready and willing to try and help anyone that wants to start. Places to fish here in the RI area..

12) I belonged to the South Seekonk Gun Club, which had quite a few salt-water fly fishers all who were willing to have a youngster tagging along, whether it was fresh, salt fishing or hunting. I am always available to help anyone who needs it. I can and do offer advice on where to go and what to do. I don’t hid nothing I am always giving advice about where to fish in RI, and if I can I will even take them. I have run or helped on some of the claves. One of which I had about six well known so called experts from the area, but it was cancelled because of the weather. I sure would like to fish at Monomoy once before I die."

02-28-2008, 01:29 PM
I fished an Icebreaker and a Fall Fling with Art and other Forum members. I remember Art coming up to my truck window to give me a peek at his flybox in the pouring rain. The rain did not bother him one bit. He truly loves to share his knowledge and ideas.

02-28-2008, 04:33 PM
I only met Art once he's a true gentleman. My prayers go out to him. FishHawk

02-28-2008, 07:49 PM
I had the pleasure of fishing with Art a few times. One time, before I was even into flyfishing, I was fishing from the rocks at the end of Napatree Point and the stripers were feasting on anchovies right around the rocks. People were hooking up on almost every cast and it lasted for hours. When I got chased off of my rock by the rising tide, I started to head back towards the beach and found Art sitting on a boulder, taking a break from the action. I had only met him once before at one of the Rhody claves but he recognized me and waved me over to say hi. Later, we ended up walking back to the parking lot together, and during the mile or so walk, Art gave me pointers about fishing Napatree and other places in western RI. He also talked about how much fun it was to catch fish on a flyrod, especially albies.

Art -- Thanks for your generosity and enthusiasm. I'll be thinking of you.


Dble Haul
02-29-2008, 10:32 AM
This is sad news. I've only interacted with Art once years ago at our flyfishingforum booth in Marlborough, but I could sense his energy and passion for everything fishing related at that time. Since then, I have been the benefactor of PMs from him here and there with timely advice about where the fishing has been hot in RI.

I wish him comfort and peace.

03-03-2008, 10:49 AM
I met Art a number of years ago at a spring gathering in RI. My brother and I got paired up with him and he spent the day driving us all over what seemed the whole state showing us his favorite spots giving us advice and watching us fish. He didn't pick up a rod the whole time and seemed more than content to simply share with us. I will always remember that day and not for the fish but for the time spent with a legend who gave so generously.

03-03-2008, 11:14 AM
Was very sorry to see this.

I had the pleasure of meeting Art at an Ice Breaker a few years back. We had a tough day fishing but it was great to see Art jump in the truck and refuse to pack it in. We ran from spot to spot all morning with Art and Ray as our guides trying to track down fish.

Once on the water it was a joy to hear Art's stories and see the experience of his years translate into his fishing.

Our thoughts and prayers are with him

03-03-2008, 06:23 PM
After several Pm's to me, Art and I found some time in our schedules to meet and fish together. I asked him to take me to his favorite spot in South County. Little did I know what I was in for. Having acquired a brand new Nissan XTerra, Art started a run down the sand trail from Fire District Beach to the Quonny Breachway. His back was bothering him but did not slow him down in the least. He was very excited to out and about doing what he loves the most. Upon reaching the breachway he offered a sandwich and drinks as he had planned a full day outing. Nothing was going on as the tide flooded so lucky for me.......I sat and listened to a wealth of salt and sweet water flyfishing history as the tide rushed in past the granite that is the breachway. An occasional reminder to be patient and wait was something many of us in this busy world have long since forgotten. Art retaught me this age old rule and it paid BIG dividends. Just after the tide slacked and began to turn, a HUGE flock of Cormorants flew over us into the channel and we ensued. Bass after bass were caught as the tide moved out. It was a day I long to repeat. I will never forget the generosity and patience of Art Burton.

Art.......if you are reading this, hat's off to you my friend and THANK YOU! Please do your best to get well and we'll see you when the weather co-operates and the bass are biting again.


03-06-2008, 07:31 AM
I remember being introduced to Art at the 1st Rhody Clave I attended. Art was the local unofficial organizer, the man with a pulse on the migration. I had fun and learned a lot even though I did not fish with Art that year I benefited from his willingness to share his knowledge and time.

Art has been at most of the Rhody events, and shared so much with so many. One year he got his son to take a few of us out on his boat to chase albies.

I vividly recall one trip to Rhody that started out great for me on Friday in a little pre clave fishing with bass decent blues and several shots at albies out in the yak. It was that off the hook pre frontal fishing we get into now and then. With night came the front, it blew in and it howled out of the NE into Sunday. The fishing was totally shut down for the weekend, maybe a few fish in the salt ponds but the blitzes were nowhere to be found. Sunday afternoon, I had packed it in and was heading for home when I got a call - Art had found the fish. Almost on queue as soon as we had hit the highway things went full tilt and Art was in the middle of it. I met up with Art out on the OSV side of Miquamicut beach and with Watch hill light in the background the sea still unsettled from the blow and low clouds starting to part the late afternoon sun shone down on us, bait and blues as far as you could see down the beach.

Art, Thank you for what you have shared with me and most of all for the most precious gift of your time.

With Respect and Admiration,

Jim Whalen

03-06-2008, 10:00 AM
Art -

In the world of flyfishing there are those who toot their horns and those who don't, and too often the noise level does not relate to knowledge or experience.

Not in your case... though you may not get involved with glossy catalogs and media you are a genuine unsung hero to us with your sage wisdom, depth of experience and generosity with it all.

I'm proud to call you friend.

03-10-2008, 06:01 PM
Art I had the pleasure of meeting you at the first Rhody Clave, I was honored that you took me to fish some of your favorite spots.

Art you are a gentleman and one of the true pioneers of our sport.


03-13-2008, 09:16 PM
The wife and I visited with Art today for several hours. He was resting comfortable in his recliner with his home made afghan and Cabala’s slippers. He seems cold even though the room was above seventy.

He hasn't been alert much and he is in and out of restless sleep. The patch he wears controls the pain. He has lost more hearing. Writing him messages helps him smile, so he can understand what you are trying to say. He still has his sense of humor.

This afternoon was a joy for him. His son, Art Jr. was around sorting thru memorabilia. Art Sr. lived on the next block from me for some 28 years before moving to North Smithfield.

We talked about our fishing trips and boating experiences we shared together. He watched my son, Scott grow from infancy to 21. The three of us had a blast together. The stories we could tell are too many!

I was hoping Art would be capable of sitting down with a keyboard and maybe communicating with us. That doesn't seem possible now. So I'll try to convey as much information as possible from my side. Keep you posted. He still can view the Internet at times, but dozes quickly.

It's most important that all of you know how truly he has appreciated your kindness and thoughtfulness thru stories written on his behalf. He has even made copies of them from the Internist and has given them to his two sons. He's damn proud and humble that he could help so many in so many different ways.

The bottom line Art, we are the lucky ones to have you in our lives.

03-14-2008, 08:35 AM
Capt. Ray. Thanks for the heads up on your latest visit. Out of curiosity I clicked on the search engine above and typed in ArtB. There is a wealth of information there and for those of you that have not had the pleasure of meeting Art Burton, you can get to know a little bit about him from his posts. Enjoy!


03-14-2008, 11:00 AM
Out of curiosity I clicked on the search engine above and typed in ArtB. There is a wealth of information there and for those of you that have not had the pleasure of meeting Art Burton, you can get to know a little bit about him from his posts. Enjoy!

Thanks Phil.... That's a good idea and great thought!

03-15-2008, 07:47 AM
I have been so out of touch with the forum lately and am very saddened to here the Art is doing poorly. I don't like the feeling of speaking in the past tense as he is still with us but all I have is a couple of stories and AWE.

I have been amazed by his memory. I am terrible when it comes to remembering things- he can recount everything that he's experienced. My second year as a forum member, probably 2002. I had only been to the Orleans Spring 'Clave as a group gathering and my striper experience was limited to what I had taught myself up to then. My brother Andrew and I drove down for a Rhody Early Bird gathering meeting at a church parking lot. He had been reluctant but I urged him to come. We fished in the cold and dank weather at a state park near the Newport Bridge and then went up into Providence and fished the tide under a bridge there, Nick was one of the only ones to catch anything that day- a dink scoolie.

We visited at length with Art that day. He regaled us with his fishing tales and showed us piles of flies. A few years later at the Marlboro show, the last year we had a booth I think, Art was there. He remembered our names, where we were from and shared his fishing journals which went back probably decades. He then gave us pictures he had taken of us back at that first early bird 'clave. Drew and I still speak of it in amazement.

All I can say is I wish we were closer to Rhode Island so we could have shared his wisdom, stories and generous heart more.

03-24-2008, 09:08 AM
We stopped to see Art yesterday on Easter Sunday. He's not able to get out of bed much any more. Poor guy hasn't eaten anything solid for a month now. He has a few spoons of apple sauce now and than. His mouth is always dry. They have increased his meds now. He feels a lot more pain and stomach discomfort.
Still has his sense of humor. He quoted: Why is it that we can make the decisions to put down animals but not people? Then he shows me his stomach and said, "Hard..... just like yours!"

03-24-2008, 04:59 PM
Here's an e-mail I received today. Art still uses the computer, but can only read now. He will feel good after reading this message and the way he has conducted himself through life. I removed the senders name not knowing his intent. Hopefully Art will see it.


Just wanted to say thanks for keeping folks updated on how Art is doing -- and a special
thank you for taking the time to visit him.

When you next make it over to see him, please give him my best. Have good memories of seeing
him fishing the opposite side of Weekapaug from me, driving around the beaches and then shooting the
breeze when our paths would cross on the roads someplace.

Sadly, we never had the opportunity to fish together, but I'm honored to have been splashed by the some of the
same waves, slipped on some of the same rocks, and seen some (albeit a much smaller number) of the same sights
of those special Rhode Island as he has.

I believe that one of the best measures of ones life is the number of friends you make along the way -- he has made
more friends than anyone can ever know. Truly a life well-lived.


04-01-2008, 02:25 PM
Just an update:

Art is unable to get out of bed anymore. Just to frail and weak. :frown: