Our Man In Canada
December 5th, 2005

New Found Respect for the Pirates
By Chris Chin, Québec

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.

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 a shot.

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.

Background:

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 Quebec City.


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 both parks.

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

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 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 Daniel's."

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, visit Christopher's website http://pages.videotron.com/fcch/. ~ Christopher Chin

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