It's a Small World
Over the past couple of decades, I've met lots of folks.
Meetings with loggers, First Nations, other foresters,
public consultations, they all add up. Unfortunately,
I'm not very good at remembering names.
and a river runs through most of it
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada
I recently changed "day" jobs, so I've been running
around a bit doing the public consultations for the
management plans I've been handed. This morning I was
doing the meet 'n greet outside the conference room
as delegates filed in for an information session.
As often happens, about a third of the folks (whom I
assumed I didn't know), greeted me by name. I guess
being a Chinese, French speaking, commercial forester
in Eastern Canada makes me a novelty or a stand out.
Anyhow, for better or for worse, folks seem to remember
me (and all too often, I can't remember their name). At
least I don't fake it (anymore) and I'll just out right
say "I know we've met, but that I can't remember when,
nor your name." (It shows in your eyes anyway).
While I'm doing the "reception" line of a half a dozen
people, I can see a stranger in the back looking at me
with that very look. I can tell he knows me, but can't
remember when or where we've met. Me neither.
Then as he steps forward, I see a slight limp and a pull
in his left leg. Aha!...five or six years ago. A cool
It's late June. Prime time on my home waters for salmon.
I had "arranged" for some meetings in the Capital to finish
up Thursday so I got to hit the river on the Friday before
the long weekend. Bright and early and I've gotten a couple
rises, but no connections just down from the observatory
on the #37 (Bardsville).
I decide to take a stop for breakfast. As I climb back over
the berm, I notice another angler walking up from the cabins.
In the chilly morning air I detected right off the bat a
slight limp in his left leg.
Funny how we can't remember faces sometimes, but we can
remember a casting stroke or a profile in motion. Anyhow,
I know I've never seen this fellow walking the river before.
As he approaches, he asks if there are any salmon in the slick.
I reply that some anglers got a couple the night before.
Go ahead and do a drop, I'm going to make some coffee.
Being new to salmon fishing, he seems shy to try the pool
I'm coming out of.
"Hey" I reply,..."My name's not written on any of these
salmon. If you get a hit, just holler, I'll bring a net."
I show him my fly so he can decide if he wants to try
something similar or something different. He decides
to try the same fly,...but I suggest he go one smaller.
Up at the pickup, I haven't even got the stove out and
I can hear "Ah, Hello,...HELLO,...HEY...HELP PLEASE!
I jog over the berm and see our newcomer leaning back
on the rod, over fifty feet of backing already streaming
East! I visually track the backing and line straight
downstream just in time to see a beauty of a salmon
leap then run even harder.
Precariously perched on the ballast rock, our newly "hooked"
Salmo salar enthusiast is seriously wishing he had more
backing. Unable to chase down the salmon I have him bang
on the butt of his rod. The salmon stops. REEL! I yell,
too late, the salmon turns, and drags the line under the
ONLY SUNKEN SNAG in the entire slick. Luckily, he stops
just on the other side of the twenty-foot log.
The line is truly hung up on a stub of a root this side
of the snag. I look up and over to the angler and suggest:
"Well, all you can try is bailing line."
"You think it will work?"
"It'll work or I'll have to cut your line. You can't leave
the salmon hung up on the snag like that."
He strips out thirty to fourty feet of backing and dumps
it into the river. The current unrolls the line downstream
from the sunken log in a long "U." As the current tugs at
the line, the fly line PULLS OFF THE ROOT STUB. Probably
a 1:100 chance...but it works.
The salmon feels the light tug from the current on the
LONG line and bolts downstream. (OK, now we're running
Frantically, the angler spools up line, getting tight
onto the reel just as the salmon starts to pull. The
battle is back on.
Well rested after his five minute reprieve near the snag,
the salmon does another three to four runs, several heart
stopping leaps, then finally lets himself get muscled to
the near side of the slick.
It takes me several minutes to explain how we can net
this beast, then three or four attempts to get it right.
A quick handshake, some sincere congratulations, and I
head back to the truck to finish getting my breakfast ready.
. . .
My long forgotten stranger has made it to the head of the
line. He's still looking at me trying to remember why my
face is familiar.
I extend my hand and get a firm handshake back. To his inquiring
eyes I say: "June 23rd, 2001 ... a 21 lb male on a #12 Black
Bear - Green Butt. I had the honour of netting your first ever
salmon. I never did get to know your name though."
We do formal introductions this time.
It's a small world. What kind of lasting impressing will
you leave on someone today? ~ Christopher Chin - Bay Comeau 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,
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