Timing...Sometimes It Just (Doesn't) Come Together.
Thinking about the Fish-In coming up, I'm haunted by
the memories of one of the first times I arranged to
meet with a group on my home waters.
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec
Back a while ago I had been fishing on the Ste-Marguerite
for several years already. Co-workers from the various
offices around the province thought it would be a fine
place to do a little Team Building and get in some R&R
from a massive soft project.
As we wanted to relax more than go hard core for salmon,
we arranged to meet in the late season in early October.
For the previous seasons, the juvenile sea run brook trout
had been coming up the river in droves. I had recounted to
my co-workers about many a wonderful day on the river,
basking in the autumn sunshine, enjoying the colors and
taking trout after trout on dry flies. (error!)
As the fateful long weekend in October rolled around, our
little project group had grown into an extended family and
we arranged to camp out on the #23 with some IT consultants,
team members from three offices, the mill manager, the mill
foreman and their wives.
As I wanted to scout out the river in advance and check out
the flows, I drove down Friday morning. A beautiful sun filled
sky and low even flows greeted me as I ambled down the trail
to the #27. Out on the shoal, I met up with the (then) Guide,
"Testing" flies on the #27 - October 1998
We played a few trout in the pool and took one from the run
for lunch. Things were looking mighty good for our visitors.
Around 16h00, our friends started arriving. The two couples
set up "Winnebago's" in the parking lot and the others
settled into tents and the Warden's camp (which we had
A crisp cool (Canadian) Thanksgiving evening around the fire,
a starry sky, dreams of trout filled pools, what more could
one ask for?
Well, around 06h00 I crawled out of my bunk to get the
wood stove started and the coffee going. I pulled on
some slacks and a sweater and stepped out of the cabin
to see if the water level had dropped much during the night.
A BLAST of frigid air assaulted my senses as the doorknob
was literally ripped from my hand. The sun would rise at
6h45, but the sky was ashen grey. A twenty knot "breeze"
was howling down the valley from the Northwest! The air
temperature was hovering just under the freezing point!
I put on a cheerful face and went about stoking up the
fires and getting breakfast going. Now I never knew that
Foresters and IT specialists were so religious, but almost
every single one of 'em said the same thing as they got
their first breath of morning air:
"[name a religious figure here]!! It's COLD!!"
Well, they were all pretty hyped up anyway, especially since
I had been fishing the day before and caught a few. Quick
breakfast, some orientation about the river, some casting
pointers and we were off for a day of adventure.
If I look back on this day and calculate properly (didn't
have a journal back then), I figure there were over twelve
of us fishing the river that day. Out of the ENTIRE bunch,
only Max got one trout. (and lost it while trying to grab
for it as he didn't have a net).
Seems (according to the Wardens), that the cold front that
moved in overnight had put down the trout and was also
keeping fresh ones from coming up from the estuary (hey,
'ya learn something every day).
A lack of fish sure didn't keep us from having a fine
relaxing weekend though. Maybe it was this outing that
set the tone for many to come. Good food, a camp fire,
a case of thirty-year-old Port and some aged cheddar.
The "House" speciality: Quebec Fondue of Caribou flanks,
snow geese and moose roast
Our friends gave it a good try. They braved a pretty
stiff breeze and chilly air for two days. Dennis finally
connected to a trout, a resident 'bout two inches longer
than the Muddler Minnow he was swinging.
None of them actually admitted it, but they were a tad
discouraged. They packed up early Monday morning and
settled down to battle the long weekend traffic as they
returned to the four corners of the province.
As I had paid my rod fees for all four days, I was suited
up, rod in hand, as the last motor home lumbered off. As
it was disappearing 'round the bend, the sun started to
poke it's face over the bluff. (oh Oh!)
As the sunshine spread out across the pool on the #23, a
light midge hatch erupted. I look over to Boris, who has
just finished signing in, smile, grab my lightest rod, my
ONLY box of #22 midges and scramble across the Arm over
to the pool.
For the next 90 minutes, we had some of the most exciting
dry fly fishing one could ever hope for. Long long fine
leaders, tiny (for here) dries and voracious trout! The
hatch slowed down so we scooted down to the #9 and got
in another two hours of fast and furious action.
The #9 (Le Chateau)
Back at the office the following week, I never once told
my co-workers about the fishing AFTER they left.
I guess sometimes, timing is just as important as anything
P.S.: In the subsequent seasons, every single one of that
original group have come back to the river. They have all
connected with some very spectacular fish.
~ 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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