Our Man In Canada
November 20th, 2006

Relax, It's not just about fishing
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada

I ran across a thread this week (or was it last week?) about fishing vacations; the excitement of that first day, fishing from sun-up until sundown. Just generally beating yourself to death the first few days until you realize you should relax a bit. After all, this is supposed to be fun and relaxing.

I didn't get a chance to follow the thread, but it got me thinking. I guess I don't act that way. I've always been sort of an observant type (the slightly analytical side of my brain usually dominating the emotional side I suppose). Then again, the river I fish lends itself well to contemplation.

River path

The simple act of ambling down the trail to one of my favourite haunts is enough to make me relax. After stringing up in the pull out, I load up my vest with a few fly boxes, a snack, smokes etc and head down for the short three minute walk to the run.

When I come up to a run, I like to pull up short and have a good look.

  • Are there any anglers already there?

  • Can I hear any trout or salmon rising?

  • How's the light coming into the valley?

  • Is the sun shining towards me?

  • Is my silhouette going to be hidden by the background forest?

  • What kind of casting positions and presentations are possible with the given the day's river level?

Finally, I'll see if I actually want to cast into the run just yet. About half of the time, I won't even start fishing right away. I'll prefer to drop down onto the beach and lounge around a bit, waiting. (It is amazing how comfortable one can be while taking a nap on the river worn round rocks on some of our beaches).

Run 43
The #43 run on my home waters

I may lay out my fly boxes in the morning sun so that they can dry out (after having waded a tad too deep the day before.)

Fly Boxes on beach

This summer I came down to a run and saw that there was already an angler there. After watching him cast for a while, I came to the conclusion that he was seriously under gunned for the big dries he was casting into the light breeze.

Once he backed out of the run to change flies, I approached to see what rod and line he was actually using. A medium weight trout rod with a level 6lb test leader just won't do against a #6 Brown Bird. I had him try a few casts with my rod so he could see and feel the difference.

Being new to salmon fishing, but quite determined to give it a go, he mentioned that he was actually starting to look for a new rod, rigged for Atlantic salmon. What else was there to do,...I trotted back to the truck and pulled out a few rods, strung them up and brought them back to the run.

Rods at rest

We waded out into some dead water at the tail of the run so our new found friend could feel the difference between 7, 8 and 9 wt rods, as well as the performance of DT and WF lines. In no time he was comfortable fully loading the rods; unrolling the line up and out.

I sat back on the beach and watched him casting for another 30 minutes. He worked his way up the run. A smooth rhythm was working its way into his muscle memory.

Cast, mend, drift, drift, mend, drift out. Pickup, 2 false cast and cast.

I must have sort of nodded off, because a while later, a shadow loomed across my eyes, our newest adept at the sport was about to hand one of my rods back to me. I said the wind was going only going to pick up even more during the day. He may as well use that one for the day if he was comfortable with it in hand.

We arranged for him to leave the rod behind the wood shed on another run when he was done. I'd pick it up some time over the weekend. Bidding him a quick farewell, I gathered up the extra rods and headed back to the truck.

Pulling onto the road, heading up river to another run, I realized with a chuckle, that I hadn't cast a single fly into the run.

Later that night, I stopped at the wood shed and retrieved the rod. There was a note clipped to the fighting butt:

"No salmon, but a wonderful day on the river anyway. Thanks. J"

~ Christopher Chin - Bay Comeau 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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