Re: Old film of Lee Wulff
Lee Wulff, 86, an Outdoorsman Who Transformed Sport Fishing
By NELSON BRYANT
Published: April 30, 1991
Lee Wulff, one of the world's best known and most respected sports fishermen, as well as an author, lecturer, artist and film maker, died Sunday when the light plane he was flying crashed into a wooded hillside near Hancock, N.Y. He was 86 years old.
When the plane crashed, Mr. Wulff was engaged in a routine renewal of his pilot's license, flying a 1953 Piper Super Club near the Pennsylvania-New York border. Ricky Charles, chief investigator of the crash for the New York State Police, said that the cause of the crash was not known and that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating it.
Mr. Charles said Mr. Wulff died of massive head injuries. The plane's other passenger, Max Francisco of Hancock, manager of the White Birch Airport and a flight instructor, suffered head and facial injuries. He was taken by helicopter to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City, N.Y., and was reported in critical condition yesterday. Diverse Innovator
Mr. Wulff's contributions to American fly fishing were fundamental and diverse. He probably did more than any other angler to popularize dry fly fishing for salmon, and his Wulff series of hair-wing dry flies were among those of that genre that, according to Paul Schullery in the book "American Fly Fishing," revolutionized salmon fishing on this side of the Atlantic.
He was also a champion of the welfare of Atlantic salmon, and Mr. Wulff often reiterated his conviction that it should be declared a game fish, thereby freeing it from commercial exploitation.
A master fly caster and fly fisherman, Mr. Wulff convinced a generation of American anglers that small fly rods -- rather than the huge, two-handed affairs favored by the British -- could be used to take Atlantic salmon. He was a restless innovator, and the short wading vest for fly fishermen that he designed in the early 1930's was the prototype for this now-ubiquitous item of angling equipage.
Mr. Wulff was born in Valdez, Alaska, Feb. 10, 1905. "Apparently I started fishing as soon as I could crawl," Mr. Wulff said a few years ago. "There was a little trout creek in back of our house in Alaska and my mother got me going with a bent pin for a hook that was baited with a piece of bacon." Move to Brooklyn
After Mr. Wulff's father failed to strike it rich in the Alaska gold rush, the family moved in 1915 to Brooklyn, the base from which Lee began his summer angling explorations of New York State.
He went off to Stanford University and studied engineering, but showed no enthusiasm for that field as a profession and abandoned it after three months' work. "I decided that I'd be an artist," he said, "something that would allow me to talk with people of all ages and all countries."
After attending art classes in various academies in Paris for a year, Mr. Wulff returned to this country, where his endeavors included being an art director for a New York City advertising agency and working for the designer Norman Bel Geddes. But even as he was laboring at what he believed would be his life's work, Mr. Wulff was fishing the trout streams of New Jersey and the Catskills. He once observed that he could fish the Catskills for $3.50 a week, "gas to get there, cheese, bread and milk and a tent to sleep in."
It was not long before Mr. Wulff decided to end his career in commercial art and devote himself to freelance art work, writing, film making and lecturing.
He went on to establish a fishing camp in Newfoundland and -- flying his own float plane -- to explore the rivers and lakes of Labrador, which is a part of Newfoundland. Set World Records
Mr. Wulff pioneered sport fishing for giant bluefin tuna off Newfoundland, and twice, in the waters of that province, set world records for the species. He was an accomplished and avid hunter and was the first known to have taken both a stag caribou and a bull moose with bow and arrow in Newfoundland. Tall and raw-boned, he made no concession to age; in his late 70's, he once caught a 960-pound bluefin tuna.
In recent years, Mr. Wulff and his wife, Joan, conducted a fly-fishing and fly-casting school hard by the upper Beaverkill River in Lew Beach, N.Y., where they lived.
In addition to producing award-winning films on fishing and hunting, Mr. Wulff was the author of eight books, including "Leaping Silver." He was also a director of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center.
Mr. Wulff is survived by his wife; two sons, Allan Lee Wulff of Reston, Va., and Barry Lee Wulff of Willimantic, Conn.; a sister, Audrey McGowan of San Diego; two stepsons, Douglas Cummings of Lew Beach and Stuart Cummings of San Jose, Calif., and two granddaughters, Sabrina Louise and Tasha Leeann.
In his will, according to Joan Wulff, Mr. Wulff made a bequest of an unnanounced sum to the Anglers Club, of which he was a member, so that the organization might "throw a happy party celebrating my long and pleasant stay on earth."