Wading Staffs and Wading Safety
On our home waters, probably the most well known pool
is Glass Pool.
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada
Right on the regional highway, the Head Warden has his
camp there and an observatory perched out over the pool.
Tourists like to stop there on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Sometimes intimidating, the Gallery on Glass Pool
Newcomers also often start there because they can see
the salmon in the pool and over in the slick.
Unfortunately, the slick is also a rock strewn garden of
cobles and boulders. When I start pointing out salmon and
casting positions, quite a few visitors turn pasty pale in
the face and start wondering how they are ever going to
wade out into the current.
Michel on Glass Pool. We can appreciate the unstable
footing of the river bed.
Fortunately, hanging off of a nail on the porch of the
warden's cabin is an old broom stick with a length of
rope attached to it. This improvised wading staff is
usually all it takes to set up a wobbly legged angler
solidly in the current. I'll also usually wade out with
a client, standing off upstream to break the current.
A wading staff is a handy item for most of us to have
tucked into our bag of tricks.
I have several, mostly to lend to friends and visitors.
Since I know the river pretty well here, I use one only
on occasion when I'm not quite sure how deep the water
is getting. If I need it to steady myself against a
raging current, I'll stop and back out.
There are some really neat folding staffs on the market.
Most of mine are hand made from necessity. I'll usually
cut a breast height length of a Maple sapling, debark it
and wrap a length of rope to make a handle. A bungee
cord and a carabineer to attach it to your wading belt
Wading belts: A belt not only helps keep your waders in
place, it'll help support your back. More importantly
though, a belt keeps water from filling up you waders
if you do happen to take a spill and it gives your
companions something to GRAB as you're drifting by!
One last note in my little rant about safety is about
water levels. (On tail waters, this is an entirely
My home waters spill out of the Valin mountains. There
are neither lakes nor reservoirs in the head waters. I
believe the river actually takes its origins from a
spring. This all means that when it rains in the
mountains, the river will come up fast. Really fast.
In 4-6 hours, the river can creep up by several inches.
Not a real problem, except that the flow rate also
increases. If one had just barely made it across the
#8 to fish in the back eddy, coming back will be
If I have to wade across the river or around a sunken
point, I'll always put a stick in the sand on the beach
so I can gauge how fast the river is coming up (canoe
The rapids off of the #3 Zone 5B
Sometimes we just must wade deep or into the current.
Try to remember that you may be stomping around on
valuable habitat or worse...on fish!
If you must venture into difficult wading, try using
a staff. They are not just for "the Old Guys."
~ 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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