Our Man In Canada
May 16th, 2005

Why We Fish II – Sharing our passion
By Christopher Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

I once read somewhere (David Hughes I think) that a fly fisher goes through several phases or stages in their evolution.

    1. Angler wants to catch A fish,...any fish,... doesn't matter if it's small or big,...just a fish.

    2. Angler wants to catch many fish,...lots and lots of fish,...size doesn't matter, just lots of action (like Bows on the Blackwater).

    3. Angler wants to catch a big fish, trophy stuff, bruisers and monsters.

    4. Angler wants to catch lots of big fish.

    5. Angler wants to catch the difficult fish, Salmo salar, Bones, hike in stuff,...challenging stuff.

One can progress through all the stages and come to the 5th "level." Go there if you like, but be prepared to be humbled.

IMHO, we can add a further phase to this list: Angler wants to transmit their passion to another.

I may have skipped some steps along the way, but I now have the opportunity to pass on my passion for this sport to my new family. After fishing then guiding for several years here on the Ste-Marguerite River (Saguenay) in Central Quebec, I met my new girlfriend and her son.

A turning point in my life, for the very first time, I wanted to be with someone else on the river bank besides the 'ole Red Fox that had been hanging around for years. The Ste-Marguerite is an Atlantic Salmon river, so it is a rare day that an angler connects to more than a couple fish. We do have a nice sea run Brook Trout fishery, so that helps a tad in the success rate.

Unfortunately for my girlfriend Renée, Atlantics and sea run trout are a bit notorious for being difficult fish. So this means, in the evolution of this new comer to the sport, she'd be doing three phases at the same time, that is:

Going to try to get one very big and difficult fish.

Her expectations weren't high, she just wanted that one fish. We fished for a couple dozen days on the lower reaches, teaching her the basics and just all around loving the time together.

A typical pool on the lower reaches of the Ste-Marguerite (Pool #9)

Eventually, we got around to visiting the upper reaches of the river. Not a good idea... You see, on the Big Pool in the 5A zone of my homewaters, you can sit up on the observatory and actually see the salmon and trout lazing around in the current. These trout in the upper reaches run between 3 and 8 lbs. The salmon (small compared to other rivers) range from 12 to 30 lbs. Not bad "targets" for a newbie.

Renée declares: "We have to try for those fish!" I try to explain that these fish have been there for over 6 weeks and that they didn't get so big by being dumb,...but to no avail. The following weekend we reserved our rods and set up camp next to the Game Warden's cottage.

5:30 Saturday morning and Renée is roaring to go. Even though it's part of the upper reaches of the river, Big Pool didn't get its name because you could jump across it. Using the 9ft 8weight rods, we set out to casting to pods and pods of lunkers (most casts being from 30-60 ft).

The trout and salmon are pretty well mixed together. I figure, as the water flows go down in pools, the fish tolerate schooling more and more.

The fish are there, Renée just can't figure out why they don't bite. Setting up to watch me from the observatory, she sees the trout and an occasional salmon moving to come inspect an offering. For then next 12 hours, Renée casts to these beasts. Nothing. I connect to two, but it's more luck than skill.

Trying for a pod of bruisers on the upper reaches – Zone 5A Ste-Marguerite Rv

As evening falls, we move up to the rapids as the bruisers sometimes come out to play. I set up Renée in the dying light. Putting my feet up on a stump and settle in hoping Renée can connect. Just as I'm starting to think we'll be skunked, she starts getting a kind of panic stricken look. Backing up and out of the current she's quietly asking: "Christopher,...What's that?...What's that? It's a monster!!"

She takes the final two strides to clear the water and scrambles up onto the rocky beach. Just as she does, we see the head of a Beaver poke through the surface. Seems he has come out to do the rounds. This is no ordinary beaver. I can't guess at its weight, but it must get its vitamin supplements from a drug store. Big, fat and not afraid of some poor woman standing in his way.

This was in 2003, incidentally, Renée has never returned to Big Pool to fish. She has found other pools and runs that she prefers. Not because we catch more fish, but because she prefers sharing the moment over the actual catching of fish. (although she does catch fish)

After the episode with the beaver, Renée is done for the day. Over 13 hours of non-stop casting big flies is enough. She has tried to skip a few levels of the game and has been humbled.

Renée with her very first ever trout on a fly – Pool #49 Ste-MargueriteRv 2003. ~ Christopher Chin

About Chris:

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 Christophers website, www3.sympatico.ca/chris_chin/

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