Our Man In Canada
April 17th, 2006

Dumb Luck - (or Divine Intervention)
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec

A few years ago I had the golden opportunity to travel to the Pyrenees Region in the South of France to meet up with some fellow foresters. Unfortunately, as I had swung the trip by dead heading with a group of college students, I couldn't get a chance to try any of the alpine lakes we saw. I did however get the opportunity to meet a few superb managing foresters.

A few years later, one of these foresters in France did the same deal and came to visit me. Of course, after having chatted with him over a couple bottles of wine back in France, one of his dreams was to try fly fishing in Canada.

Jacques was to arrive on the Sunday, so I went out Friday evening to scope out a nice area on a local river.

Big Bear Falls is the last major obstacle on the Ashuapmushuan River for land locked Atlantic salmon which are making their way up the river from Lake St-Jean in mid June. After coming up through 10 miles of runs, rapids and 3 minor falls, they lager several days at the foot of the falls, resting and waiting for flow levels to calm down.

Tying on a #14 Royal Wulff, I explored the seam along the outer edge of a giant back eddy to see where the salmon were holding. The pool is literally infested with salmon! All of them hungry to get in a last snack before summering over in the spawning beds!

Sunday evening, after we got our visitors settled into their accommodations, I was wondering if Jacques would be up for some fishing. Severely jet lagged after the Toulouse, Paris, Gatwick, Heathrow, Montreal, and Roberval flight plan, my colleague was nearing his 28th hour of the day. When I suggested we could wait for a few days, he would have nothing of the sort.

A quick 10 minute drive and we were stringing up rods. By the time we stepped out onto the point, the sun was sitting four fingers over the falls. A postcard perfect summer evening. Too early in the season for black flies, the reddening horizon framed the falls perfectly.

Jacque asked how to present a fly into the pool. I put on my best Guide's face and start to explain (all the while praying to the Lord that this will work).

I shadow cast: "All you have to do is false cast 2-3 times to get out 40 feet of line, lay it down, take in the slack, give 'er a 6 inch tug, Wait, then set the hook".

I start false casting to show him. On each false cast I'm chanting in my head, "Lord, Please don't make me a liar!", "Lord, Please don't make me a liar!", "Lord, Please don't make me a liar!"

As I'm doing this, I'm not even looking at my line, nor the pool, nor my fly. I'm looking over my left shoulder at Jacques, re-explaining the tactic. Without even watching my fly, I lay down the line, take in the slack, skate the dry fly 6 inches towards me, wait, (I feel the take). And set the hook on a nice 5 lb salmon.

Now, when the line goes tight and the salmon immediately jumps, Jacques has eyes as big as pie planes.

"Mon dieu!, That is FANTASTIC!" (you have to imagine the French accent).

We go about catching and releasing several salmon over the next 45 minutes. In the fading light, I switch him over to an ST line and we slide out of the seam and grab a couple Walleyes for a late night snack.

Back at the hostel where he is settled in, after SEVERAL plate full's of Walleye filets, he asked if the fishing for land locked salmon was ALWAYS like that up here.

I explained, "Well, I guess you need good timing, the right conditions and some luck."

(and in my case, maybe a bit of Divine intervention). ~ Christopher Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

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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