New Found Respect for the Pirates
The river here closes on October 15th each year. As
fly fishing is our passion, a sinking depressing mode
settles over the household around this time.
By Chris Chin, Québec
For years we've been looking for water we can fish up
until the ice moves in. A chance meeting with another
forester during a conference gave me that opportunity.
For years I've heard of folks who fly fish for sea run
brookies in the estuary of the Ste-Marguerite River here
in the Saguenay region of Quebec. Being the creature of
habit that I am, I'd never really given it any thought
as I'm still trying to de-mystify the main branch of the
river (and learning something every day, even after 15
years on it). My fellow forester gave me detailed
instructions of where to fish so I decided to give it
As I was going to explore the bay from low tide to high tide,
the family decided to stay home. I packed up the truck Friday
night and headed out early the next morning.
I'm used to following the tide tables in the Bay as it's
a good indicator for when new trout and salmon will be
coming in. However, I wasn't used to actually living and
breathing the twice daily transformation of the estuary.
The 120 km drive passed quickly in the darkness and I
arrived at the park gate an hour before low tide. I quickly
oriented myself with the map that Adrian had drawn for me
and strung up a salmon rod. The forecast was for 10 knots
out of the NW, so I assumed (rightly) that the breeze would
be worse in the Bay.
Exploring the area from low 'til high tide was a blast.
Tides this day were running at about 18 ft, so the rapids
on the last stretch of the river became a deep run as the
morning wore on.
Starting from the boundary of non-tidal waters in the river,
I moved downstream along the banks and out onto the sand bars.
I've rescued enough folks from Lon Beach on the West coast of
Vancouver Island to back check my "escape" routes and way
points should the tide come up too fast.
Casting from shore with a variety of streamers I got a few
nice trout. It was pretty easy to spot lies with the tide
still out or just starting to come in. As the tide turned,
the water level started to move up, pushed in by a wind.
The bay is oriented directly towards the prevailing wind
and forms a funnel. The slight breeze out in the fjord soon
started screaming into the bay, ...right into my face.
On a few casts, I'd double haul "just like on TV" and the
fly would land right next to my feet! While this is all
going on, I can't help but think of the Pirates who fish
in this every time out. I wasn't frustrated. More like
awestruck at the thought of Dave et al fishing in such
conditions every day (and night).
I packed up in the mid afternoon as I'd seen enough of
the bay to know I'd be back.
The Ste-Marguerite Bay is part of the Saguenay Fjord National
Marine Park. The restaurant and interpretation centre is part
of the Provincial Park. 130 km from Chicoutimi or 145 km from
Part of the bay at high tide - Credit: Jean-Sebastien Perron © Sépaq
"Starting in the 1970s, the Québec government began to acquire
land in view of protecting the fjord. However, it was not until
the fall of 1982 that the government held public hearings on
the vocation, boundaries, zonage, and design concept for the
new park. Following the hearings, it continued to acquire sites
of significant public interest in order to bring them together
and protect them in the form of a park. The park was officially
created on June 8, 1983, and designated a conservation park,
the fourth of its kind in the provincial network. It represents
an important part of Québec's natural heritage and is recognized
for the exceptional presence of a fjord at this latitude.
In 1984, the governments of Québec and France signed an agreement
twinning the park with Cévennes National Park in France's central
mountains. The agreement reflected a mutual interest on the part
of park administrators and local residents in both jurisdictions
to join forces to protect the natural and cultural heritage of
The first visitor facilities for park users were completed at
Baie Éternité at the time of the park's creation. Additional
facilities were added at Baie du Moulin à Baude in 1991, then
at Baie-Sainte-Marguerite in 2000."
Source: Ministry of Wildlife and Parks http://www.sepaq.com/En/index.cfm
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 10 years now and started guiding
about 5 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
Chris is 42 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 in October 2002."
To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River,
~ Christopher Chin
Our Man In Canada Archives