Our Man In Canada
April 30th, 2007

Home waters. Do you know yours?
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada

Back a long while ago; I announced to my (then new) girlfriend Reneé that we were going fishing that weekend. She was a bit nervous, saying that she didn't want to meet a whole bunch of new people and that she would rather just spend quiet time together. I explained that we would be pretty well all to ourselves. There really aren't that many people on the river. A REALLY busy day here on the Ste-Marguerite will see MAYBE 50 anglers on the 100+ kilometres of runs, rapids and pools.

While we were loading all my junk into the pickup, she asked me what I had in the attaché case. I replied that it was all the usual stuff just in case visitors or friends needed any information.

Huh?

I keep in the truck the field guides for birds, plants and trees. Also, I have the updated tourist guides for the region and road maps for the province. There are topographic maps of the river valley as well as flyers for the river. I also keep under the seat multiple copies of the provincial fishing regulations as well as contact information for other regions such as over Malbaie River Outfitters. Some fishing books, fly tying references as well as catalogues from a dozen or so manufacturers rounds out the pile.

When the Wardens on the river noticed how I would chat up visitors and tourists, they'd kind of wonder if I was "giving away" the very best secrets of the river. Actually no. I would point folks to some of the easiest fishing. Not necessarily the "best". I mean, I will send an inquiring newcomer to spots where they are sure to have an easy time of sight casting over pods of salmon. I WON'T counsel them to some of the "sweet spots" where they'll have to bushwhack a mile then roll cast 60 feet (even though there are some nice salmon hidden in the pots.

Maybe the context here is different than on other rivers around the world, but I figure courteous and polite replies to questions is a sure fire way to leave a lasting impression on visitors to our piece of Paradise.

A year after our first excursion to the river together, I was in the canoe casting to some prospects in the #49. Renée was by herself, warming up with a cup of soup on the tailgate of the pickup. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a rental car pull up (Tilden seems to have a lot of Ford Taurus').

I'm wondering if the tourists will need any information, but I don't want to spook the salmon by pulling up anchor (it had taken me 30 minutes to drift down to the casting position). As I strip in to change flies, I look over to shore and I see that Renée has the briefcase out and that there are guides and maps spread out all over the picnic table. She is animated and pointing up and down the valley, explaining something.

By the time I decide to pull anchor and come in for supper, Renée is waving goodbye to some new found friends. I pull in to shore and ask her who they were.

Renée replies (grinning): "Oh, just some Spanish tourists. I sent them up to the B&B and they'll probably call the River Association tonight to schedule an Introduction to Fly Fishing course tomorrow with the summer student."

Apparently, these visitors couldn't speak French and none of the folks they had met so far that day could speak English. With a minimum of effort, Renée had managed to pull out her High School English and have a wonderful conversation.

How about you? Think back to those occasions when you have had the opportunity to strike up a conversation with a newcomer to your home waters. Were you indifferent? Were you down right hostile? (thinking, Ha! This new guy isn't getting any of the skinny from me).

Or maybe you politely replied to inquiries, exchanged a few flies and lies. You shared a glass of wine and left a pleasant and lasting impression on a visitor.

We are all ambassadors for our Sport, our Region and even our Countries. Try it … Maybe you'll like it ?
~ 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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