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