Why We Fish
At 14h36 on a Friday afternoon, all I see
blinking on the screen of the workstation is:
By Christopher Chin, Jonquiere Quebec
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It's late July. I'm in another era from today.
My job seems to have more deadlines than
there are hours in a day. Time for a reality check.
Just as I'm leaving, a light spring already
accentuating my step, the secretary asks,
"Can you be reached on the weekend, you know,...
just in case something comes up?"
I reply, "Sorry, no, there's no cell phone
It takes about 30 minutes to load up the pickup,
lash down the canoe and I'm off. A two hour drive
but even the Friday afternoon traffic becomes
insignificant in my mind. I let the portable boom
boxes (Honda Civics) pass as I'm on another mission.
Round a curve, over the knoll and there we are.
A sweeping curve in the road opens to a vista
of peace and tranquility. The highway plunges
into the river valley and I am Home.
The view from the west as the regional
highway drops into the Ste-Marguerite River valley.
Happens every time...I feel my breathing
deepen and relax,...I'm positive that the blood
pressure settles back to normal.
I stop at the Head Warden's camp to leave
a note on the table with a hunk of aged
cheddar and a small bottle of Port.
Twenty minutes later I pull into one of my
favorite haunts and shut down the motor.
Silence. No phones, no photocopiers chugging,
no low level background noise from air
Well, not nothing really. Instead of noise,
there's sounds. A brook babbling as it merges
into the 24 pool. The breeze on the other side
of the valley swirling through to Firs and
Spruces. A few gusts rustling the Aspens overhead.
I set up camp slowly, not like a robot, just
automatically as I'd done it many years ago. I
like to get setup early and settle in with a
campfire and a mug of JD to listen to the river
settle in for the night.
Moon rise on the #24 Ste-Marguerite River
As dusk sets the pool awakens. Trout looking
for forage move into the seams. They (try
to) displace the Salmon. The ensuing shoulder
rubbing leads to some spectacular air shows
as big mature bulls (Salmon) circle wildly
the pool and leap out of the water on each
half circuit. The medium sized trout just
try to keep out of the way and the consequent
movement sets off a chain reaction of whirls
and splashy rises.
An old friend smells the birch wood smoke and
has come by for a meal. I break out a small
snack of smoked trout, biscuits and cheddar.
While I'm cutting the cheese, I ask him if
there are were many anglers on the river during
the week, how's his family, where are the best
pools. He doesn't reply really. He just seems
as content as me to be there sharing a meal.
The trout is a tad dry,...more like jerky, but
that's the way I like to prepare it. My visitor
doesn't seem to mind and gobbles up almost a
quarter pound of it. Then again, I can't
remember the old Red Fox EVER refusing
anything from me.
It's dark now,...my diner guest has gone back
to do his rounds. I string up two rods. A 5
wt for trout and a 9 wt for salmon. I secure
them to the rod rack and hit the sack.
5 a.m. and a light rain has been falling since
about 03h00. The rain hitting the tent was
reassuring to me. I know the water temperatures
will go down a bit and the river will rise
later in the day a tad. Morning ritual is as
innate as setting up camp.
Coffee, bacon 'n eggs, some baked beans and
toast. The Fox is there waiting for some
scraps. For the past 4 years he's been there
for breakfast. Funny, he won't be there on
the second evening. He just shows up the first
evening to make sure it's me I guess.
I see another Guide looking over the 25 so
I leave a note on the tent to tell him I'm gone
for the day and how the trout are holding
(strangely) on the near side of the 49. I'm off
to another beach.
Back up to the upper section of the river, I
pull into the #3 as I know I'll be alone. I leave
another note on the Section Warden's table so he
doesn't have to come down just to see who's there.
The #3 is a slow pool about 120 ft wide with 40
feet cut into the trees for a back cast. I'll try
a Woolly to see what'll move first.
This isn't swinging, not enough current. I
quarter the pool on short, medium and long
casts. Finally, out at 2 o'clock, a swirl
under the fly and a flash 3 feet behind that.
I roll and recuperate then quickly spool up
and change rods. A 5 lb trout on a #9 10ft XP isn't
my idea of fun.
The movement from the hen that wanted the Woolly
has stirred up the pool pretty good, so I settle
in with a coffin nail to let things calm down.
Nice time for a nap too.
30 minutes later, #14 Red Tag (dry) on a REALLY
long lead. I lay out the line WAY upstream.
Mending twice, the fly drifts for almost 2 minutes
to get to the lair. The hen accelerates from in
front of the lair so I roll and recuperate my fly.
I'm looking for the bull that's lurking IN the
lair, behind the hen. The quick pickup of the fly
on the hen's nose has driven her inshore. I quickly
cast again, this time 10 ft upstream from the lair.
Quickly mending to get some free drift, heart
RACING, the fly passes directly over the nose
of the Bull. Nothing. Another cast, same
presentation. Nothing. Maybe he's plastic,
placed there by the Warden to get me riled up,
...No, there was a flash there 30 minutes ago.
I strip in and cut off the hackles. Same cast,
same mend,...the fly is 1 inch under the surface.
I see the trout dig in his heels, the pool is
over 10 ft deep there and it takes almost 3 full
seconds for him to accelerate and charge to the
The fly disappears and the leader plunges. I
wait for him to turn back and I lift the rod tip
to 11 o'clock. The fly line lifts out of the water
tracing a ripping rainbow of water from the trout
towards me as the line goes tight. Not a happy
camper, the trout zigs and zags about the pool.
He has lots of room and the surface erupts here
and there where smaller fish and an occasional
salmon scurry out of the way.
The water is still fairly warm so I don't play
him to exhaustion. I fight him from the reel
but he still gets into the backing by about 20
ft. Brookies don't run like a Bow and the
current is not strong here so he soon comes
to hand. I trace down the leader with my
right hand and hold the fly solidly for an
instant. Flick of the wrist and he's gone.
No pictures, no witnesses.
I like it that way.
No one will ever know.
I do this for me.
This is where I belong.
Looking for Rises on the #3A Ste-Marguerite
River, Saguenay, Quebec ~ Christopher Chin
Chris Chin is originally from Kamloops,
British Columbia. He has been fly fishing
on and off ever since he was 10 years old.
Chris became serious about the sport within
the last 10 years.
"I'm a forest engineer by day and part time
guide on the Ste-Marguerite River here in
central Quebec. I've been fishing this river
for about 8 years now and started guiding about
3 years ago when the local guide's association
sort of stopped functioning."
Chris guides mostly for sea run brook trout and
about 30% of the time for Atlantic Salmon. "I
often don't even charge service fees, as I'm more
interested in promoting the river than making
cash. I like to get new comers to realize that
salmon fishing is REALLY for anyone who cares
to try it. Tradition around here makes some of
the old clan see Salmon fishing as a sport for
the rich. Today our shore lunches are less on
the cucumber sandwich side and more toward
chicken pot pie and Jack Daniel's."
Chris is 40 years old as of this writing. He
is of Chinese origin although his parents were
born and raised in Jamaica. He has a girlfriend,
Renée. "She and her 12 year old son Vincent
started fly fishing with me last October."
To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit
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