Fishing On The

Natashquan River, Quebec

with Joseph P. Knapp

J. P. Knapp spent much of his free time duck hunting and fly fishing. He had three lodges for this. Two were in the States. His Big Place (2500 acres) on Mackey Island, NC. and a fish camp in Lew Beach in the Catskill's upstate NY. Both were remote but probably nothing compared to the fishing place he leased from the Canadian Government on the Natashquan River in Quebec. Leasing rivers to hunt and fish in goes back a long way with J. P. Knapp. He leased the Carmens River on Long Island from the Tangier Smiths from 1894 - 98.

He was in Canada on a fishing trip in 1922 when his second wife Elizabeth passed away suddenly in Southampton, Long Island and he could not be reached easily.

The photo below appeared in a book titled "Atlantic Salmon Fishing" by Charles Phair published in 1937. The photo was sent to me by a new "Knappster" Mr. Jim Blomquist in California. Jim tells me there are more photos that JP himself took of his Canadian retreat in the book. Needless to say I'm on the hunt for a copy. Jim who was with the Sierra Club for twenty five years has an interesting web site of his widely varied interests not unlike the Knapps that is all over the map.

Resplendent in his fly fishing outfit that would make the cover of Abercrombie & Fitch,(Complete with a bug protecting hooded bib) Old J. P. certainly looks to be in his element here. I heard he would sing to his Salmon!!! NOT A FISH STORY BUT A TRUE TALE !!!! I wonder what the tune was (Fishin' Blues?) that hooked this beauty and how many fish sticks you can get from him?


When Atlantic Salmon Fishing was published in 1937, J. P. Knapp was 73 years old. He was considered to be one of the worlds leading fly fishing anglers. On salmon alone which present some of the greatest challenges, he has caught 7,054 over 22 years on 7 different rivers. He most likely continued fishing for at least another decade or more. ( He passed away in 1951 at age 86 ) Today the famous Wulff Fly Fishing School sits on his fish camp land along the Beaverkill River in the NY. Catskill mountains. I offer these facts to help support what some might say is a fish story, but it's straight from the book and the anglers mouth.

An instance of the resourcefulness in salmon fishing is the way Mr. Joseph Knapp of NY takes fish in a certain pool on the Natashquan. He sings to them. He has discovered that the fish in a certain pool rise best when a fly is cast beyond them and dragged over them; and as he drags the fly over them, he sings to them. He once had two guests at his lodge who made a wager as to which of them would catch more fish the next day. Giving them two of his best pools the next morning, Mr. Knapp went on up river. When he came back down that evening, he found that the gentleman fishing the upper of the two pools had taken only two fish all day. Going on down to the other pool where the salmon must be sung to, he found his other guest, who also only caught two fish. Mr. Knapp asked him why he hadn't caught more. "There are lots of fish here," he replied, "but I can't raise them."

"Did you sing to them?" asked Mr. Knapp. "Sing hell. Don't be silly" "All right give me a rod." said Mr. Knapp. And taking it, he cast out beyond where the fish lay. As he dragged the fly in over them, he sang at the top of his lungs, and just as he was singing his loudest, a big salmon rose and took the fly. Mr. Knapp caught him and passed the rod back to his guest. "Now," he said, "you sing to them. I want you to catch one and win your bet." The gentleman took the rod, burst into song and caught a 23 pound salmon and won the bet.

pgs 60-61 "Atlantic Salmon Fishing " by Charles Phair pub Derrydale Press