Our Man In Canada
October 30th, 2006

The Greatest Show On Earth
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada

A smooth repetitive sweeping sound is pulsing its way into my consciousness. Not the hard swiping rush of someone over powering a fly rod. More of a whispering "swoosh." In my mind's eye, I can image the medium weight fly line unrolling out into the river.

I'm lounging on the trail overlooking the #28 run on my home waters. It's already 6:15 in the morning. I guess that I must have kind of nodded off. I'd been perched over the run here for the past 45 minutes, waiting for the sun to swing over the lip of the valley. With the wide brim of my hat pulled down to block out some of the growing light, a good slathering of bug dope is keeping the morning's squadron of mosquitoes off of me. Yup,...I just dozed off.

I don't even look down into the run. I can tell from the rhythm of the casts that whoever is down there must be casting pretty far out and down. On each pause, (while the wet fly swings through the run) I can imaging the angler attentively watching the fly,...searching for movement, a flash or a boil.

I lift my head a few inches up off the sandy trail and I can just see the back cast as it snakes it's way up between the spruce and the birch (it does help to "keepeth thy back cast upeth"). One back cast and back into the run, no false cast. I can hear the soft "thunk" as several feet of line shoot out and the cast lays out solidly...tugging on the reel.

Judging from the position the angler has chosen to cast from, I can tell he's only going to work about ten feet of run. There's a "pot" 30 feet out and 50 feet downstream. That's exactly where the fly is swinging to. (The same pot I was going to drop a bug bushy dry into).

As the fly swings by, four feet upstream from the edge of the pot, a monstrous form detaches itself from the bottom and lunges forward towards the fly. A soft boil, a refusal and the salmon circles back downstream ten feet before repositioning himself in the pot.

Now that I've seen the salmon move, I can easily pick him out from amongst the rock strewn river bed. A wonderful sight. Liquid silver. A fresh from the salt buck, probably 15-18 lbs.

The angler too has seen the boil and has let the line swing into the beach. He's waiting. Thinking about strategy. He changes NOTHING. He strips OUT about two feet of line. One smooth back cast and out. This time, he mends a solid three feet of downstream belly into the line.

The fly swings towards the pot again. With the downstream mend, it is swinging faster and the extra line means that it will still be gliding past the same spot.

This time the salmon has less time to react. The rapidly trotting fly is just too much. A lunge, a flash and the hook is set.

The #28 is a beautiful rolling run with plenty of current. On the downstream swing on a tight line, the fish is instantly pulling the backing out through the guides. As the angler didn't even jump when the salmon struck, I figure he has things in hand and I decide not to disturb him.

As the salmon runs 80 feet out of the run, he soon turns into the back eddy off of the sandy point and comes back into the current. Rapidly reeling in the line as the salmon starts to make his way back, the angler is recovering line, but not tiring the fish. A smooth lift on the rod and the salmon remembers/realizes that something is still wrong, - He leaps!

I hear the angler utter almost under his breath "Wow."

The same pattern repeats itself 3-4 times. The salmon doesn't want to go down through the back eddy and keeps coming back to his "pot." He is only running about 100 feet before turning back but is still tiring slowly in the 60 degree water. Each time he wants to settle back into his lair, a smooth lean from the rod sends him leaping then running back downstream.

Finally the salmon tires enough to be muscled close to shore. The angler positions himself nicely in some calf deep water, tails the salmon (with some pretty nifty rod and line control) and works the fly free.

No pumping to rejuvenate the salmon, he's gone in a flash.

The angler spools up and trots up off the beach to the trail. As he comes by he finally notices me and says, "Life doesn't get much better than that, eh."

I reply, "Greatest show on earth, Thanks." ~ 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/.

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