Rock(s)'n Roll - A Primer for the '06 Fish-In
The Mill Manager here asked about coming out for a few
days on the river this summer. As we were going over some
of the possibilities, he also asked if I could give him
some pointers on casting.
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec
"Sure, no problem. We can get in some casting lessons at
the Mill on lunch breaks and fishing lessons this summer
on the river."
"Huh? What's the difference?"
I explained that casting is what we do to get the fly out
there onto the water, fishing is a culmination of all
Case in point. The #24 pool here on my home waters. (actually
it's a slow run, but the French doesn't translate well). This
run is bordered by trees with a steep near bank...and a slurry
of sunken boulders which create wonderful holding lies for salmon.
The view upstream from the #23 up into the #24 - Ste-Marguerite River Quebec
Getting to the #24 isn't difficult. One has only to follow the
trail out of the parking lot on the #23, follow the trail up to
the #25, then wade back downstream to the #24. The trails here
are (pretty well) all maintained and clear.
Now comes the "tricky part". The #24 runs right to left when
casting from the near side. A down stream presentation is
PERFECT to try for the salmon holding midstream amongst the
boulders. How to go about this?
Starting from the beach on the 125, one can easily use a normal
overhead cast to get down and across with a wet fly. Unfortunately,
the current here is even and slow. IMHO (and experience), the
swing is too short and not fast enough. A few down stream mends
are needed. I like to cast "out" more than "down" to get a faster
swing. A last ditch effort is to point the rod tip.
I started to work the run this way on an early morning somewhere
around 2000 (or was it 1999 ??), anyway, even with mid-summer low
flows, as I worked my way down into the #24, the river bottom just
dropped off too quickly and the trees on the bank just got too
close. Time to switch over to roll casting.
The roll cast is much more simple to do than to explain. Most
anglers are intimidated by it and just don't practice it enough.
Sure it's pleasant to cast overhead with no obstacles in the
way of a back cast, but so is casting into a rock garden where
no one else has probably fished for the past 3 - 4 weeks.
There are MILLIONS of anglers more able at explaining roll
casting than I, my only "pointers" are to keep the line OUT
IN FRONT of you when you want to execute and also to let a
"belly" form in the line when you rod is near vertical, pause
and hammer hard to cast. (sounds more difficult than it
actually is, you'll just have to come to the Fish-In to see).
I like roll casting into the #24 because I can cast straight
across the current, let a nice "J" form in the line and thus
get some speed into the swing.
Down stream streamer swinging is Classic Atlantic Salmon fair.
I've seen hard-core anglers practically sleeping while casting
and working their way methodically down a run. Early wake up
calls and late evening fishing make for some very long weeks
during Prime Time.
Casting, mending and fishing out each swing, I'm getting closer
and closer to presenting my #14 Green Highlander through the
first set of boulders. Inching my way a mere 6-12 inches
downstream between each cast. I just KNOW there are salmon
It's almost hypnotic...Cast, pause, downstream mend, swing, mend
again, rod tip left to "hurry" the fly to swing out,
pause...pickup...Half step left,...Cast...
I'm into the second set of boulders. Cast, pause, downstream
mend, swing, mend again. WHOA! The salmon has followed the
fly for 5 feet, trailing it. When I mend, the subtle pause
then acceleration of the fly has provoked the take.
This is the nice part about downstream swings, the line is
already taught, the salmon takes 'n turns, setting the hook
on his own AND DECIDES to CHANGE Zip CODES! He's deep into
the backing and half way to the #23 before I have the wits
to try palming the reel a tad.
Unfortunately, he turned left and out when he took, I know
the hook is set in his right jaw hinge. Going down stream
away from me any real pressure and the hook is coming ACROSS
his mouth and out!
The birch snag leaning out from the bank will keep me from
chasing this one down, and the water is still too chilly to
jump in after him.
Time for an old trick. I let off the pressure on the rod.
He stops (they'll do this sometimes). Slowly, I raise the
rod back up and start walking back towards the beach on the
#25, reeling in line as I go. This is called walking a Salmon,
and sometimes it works. 10 minutes of give and take and I'm
finally on solid ground on the sandy beach and the salmon is
65 feet down stream and across from me.
Now what to do? TEST! A short tug on the line and he's
tacking hard ACROSS the run,...I know what's next! A quick
turn UPSTREAM, he digs in his heels, he leaps, his first jump,
I see a magnificent fish, probably 14-16 lbs. of silver Glory.
A shake of the head in mid-air and the barbless hook is flung free.
I'm not disappointed. I was starting to really wonder how I'd
ever get him to come to hand. Anyway, I know where he lives,
and I know he is there with a few dozen of his friends.
Renée on the #24 - very low water in 2003 - swinging a Rabbit-strip
Muddler through the second set of boulders.
Sound interesting? Come on up for the 2006 Quebec Fish-In (August 7 - 13).
~ Christopher Chin, Jonquiere Quebec
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
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