A New Beginning
Funny things can wake you up in the middle
of the night...the snow plow lumbering down
the street at 4 AM, the dog wandering about
downstairs,...Wait a minute, I'm on the river,
...how come I'm awake at 3 o'clock in the
By Christopher Chin, Jonquiere Quebec
Oh, it's cold. Not freezing,...
just a chill coming through the layers of
blankets. Fire in the wood stove must be out.
Still dark as its mid September, I quietly
roll out of bed to stoke up the fire. As the
embers lick into the slats of spruce and the
flames start to dance to the music of the
crackling softwood, I look around the tent
to make sure things are still in shape for
the day's fishing ahead.
The rods are strung up and ready in the rack
outside the tent flap. Kenny (the dawg) is
curled up on my bunk. The breakfast dishes
are laid out. My favorite "clients" are still
(Renee and Vince ... Dreaming of fishing?)
Instead of crawling back into bed, I decide
to take a stroll to see if the water level
has dropped a lot during the night.
Out in the night air, the stars are winking
a hello to me and the waning half moon illuminates
the ground. Ample light for a walk around... No
Northern Lights this morning,...maybe in three
weeks. I pull on some hipsters as there is a
heavy dew. No frost yet. That too should be
along in a couple more weeks.
I light up the camp stove to get the coffee
going then head over to have a look at the
river and say hi to the 10 or so Salmon who've
been stationed there for the past 6 weeks.
Still there, the big bull seems to hear me
arrive and lays over on his side for an instant,
flash of silver reflecting back at me in the
moonlight, winking a salutation as if to say,
"season is closed...maybe next year."
I trot back to the camp before the percolator
can boil over. This is the moment I've come to
cherish. The smell of coffee starting to wisp
about the camp, no other anglers are coming by
yet. It isn't the solitude that I now look for.
I'm anticipating the moment when the family will
start waking up for another day on the river,
Usually, with clients, I'll start making a tad
more noise about now, sort of like a breakfast
call. Instead, when Renee and Vincent are here,
I'll keep things quiet and prepare breakfast
almost in silence. The smell of bacon and onions
will wake them up any way in a bit.
(Preparing breakfast for my favorite "clients")
A half pound of bacon and an onion are already
prepared and they go into the skillet. As the
first slices of toast go into the grill, a new
friend arrives. The Old Red Fox wasn't here
last season and a young male seems to have taken
his place. I think he knows that Kenny will chase
after him, so he always comes early, grabs a toast
and leaves for the day.
Things get rolling a bit faster now. I bring into
the tent the regular fair for breakfast. Bacon 'n
onion omelet, toast, coffee, juice and baked beans.
The family is sitting up in bed,...they too
anticipating the day as much as I.
Over breakfast we work out the game plan for the
day. Slow leisurely start, down to the #8 before
anyone else arrives. If that doesn't pan out, we'll
come back here to the 23, lunch, nap then finish
the day depending on the direction of the wind.
(Renee and Vincent have only been fly fishing for
3 seasons, so we usually chose pools and runs where
they are sheltered from the wind).
Vincent has been following Renee and I ever since
I met her 3 years ago. What's a good way to break
the ice with the 11 year old son of your new girlfriend?
...Bring them fishing of course. That was almost
three years ago and we've never looked back.
After almost three full seasons later, slogging
through black flies, mosquitoes, rain, sleet,
wind and snow squalls, it WOULD be nice if Vincent
would catch a trout. I promise myself that today
will be the day. A cold front will be moving in
this afternoon, so its got to be this morning.
We arrive on the #8 pool an hour or so later.
The sun is just starting to warm the air and
the breeze is holding off. I pull out the canoe
from its hiding place in the alders and we ferry
across to the back eddy on the far side.
Vince knows where to cast to, he gingerly wades
out on the point and starts laying out a "pumpkin."
I cozy up to Renee on the beach and we watch
our son casting 55 ft out to the seam. An instant
later we hear those famous words (cried out in
utter excitement) "I got one!"
Not a typical teenager, more calm and collected
than most, he has set the hook on reflex action.
Now however, he's looking at me with a "what do
I do now" look. I tell him to let it run. The
trout bolts downstream past me and I see that
the #8 wooly is set firmly in the hinge (good,
... the barb is pinched down, but not completely).
I come up beside Vincent and help him guide
the trout back up into the pool. (Usually,
we'd high tail it downstream to stay across
from it, but I don't feel like spending the
rest of the day drying clothes over the fire.)
After a few (short) minutes, the trout comes
to hand. Being his first EVER trout, it's a
keeper. Taking his picture, Vince's hands are
The experience is burned into his memory,...
another step forward on his own journey...
a new beginning for him. ~ 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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