Our Man In Canada
April 24th, 2006

Timing...Sometimes It Just (Doesn't) Come Together.
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec

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.

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, André Jordan.

"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 "borrowed").

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. (oh,...and friends).

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 else.

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

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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