Our Man In Canada
July 16th, 2007

Point of Observation
By Chris Chin, Proulxville Quebec, Canada

We have it good here. On my home waters, there are galleries and observation points scattered up and down the river. Over the years (well, decades), the Wardens and Guides have cut back the underbrush and cleared trails. Finding lookouts is pretty easy. Folks have been leaning out over the pools in the same places since before the 1870's.

The old ladders propped or nailed to trees have however been removed. Apparently, they were a bit too much of a liability risk.

Visitors here are often amazed at the amount of time that we spend watching salmon and trout. While rotating in and out of pools, we'll sometimes spend hours chatting amongst ourselves and observing the fish. (photo – Luc watching over Boris on Glass Pool).

These hours and hours of observation have given us some insight into how fish react to our presentations. Where and how do we want to land dries? How fast do we want to swing wets?

We also get the opportunity to watch salmon and trout taking the fly (or at least move to one and refuse our offering). The sight of a salmon taking a dry fly will never cease to amaze me.

Further, the different manner in which salmon take a dry can vary enormously depending on conditions and of course, the salmon.

One of my favourite casting positions is on the far side of Glass Pool. In low water, we can wade out off of the gravel bar and right into the pool. The salmon holding in the gentle current don't "seem" to be disturbed by our presence. (wading slowly and quietly does helps some).

In the morning sun, I can see the pods of salmon lazing in the current. As the salmon are holding high in the water column, I can actually see them easily. The pools turn slowly in a clock wise direction, so my presentation of a #6 White Bird is right to left on a dead drift.

Not too far off, I only have to strip out about 30 feet of fly line to get a nice presentation. A couple of false casts and the big bushy fly is perched high on its hackles in the morning sun. I like to drop the first presentation a bit far out; just inside the peripheral vision of the salmon.

Hmm,...a bit too far. This gets absolutely no reaction from the 4-5 salmon holding there. Another cast, this time shortening up three feet and left two feet over. The fly drop lightly but solidly in the "window" over top the lead salmon. No movement from her, but the second salmon in the line drifts ever so gently upwards to have a leisurely look.

No take. I let the cast drift out.

Third cast and I aim one to two feet farther to the left again. Maybe the second one in line will take a look at this. The fly drops. The second salmon in line again starts drifting its behemoth like form upwards. In a flash, the fourth salmon in the line, a small male rockets out of the queue and breaks the surface.

I love fishing this drop. As I've waded out into waist deep water, my perspective is closer to the water's surface. In the adrenaline charged moment, everything is running in super slow motion. I see the bulge in the surface as the nose then mouth of the small salmon break the surface.

The next instant and the fly is gone! I wait. Did he really take the fly or has he simply sunken it in the boil? I watch the end of the fly line as it drifts on, and then dives under the surface. He HAS taken the fly. (1)

Left hand going left and rod coming up off of the horizontal, the salmon knows that something is wrong at the same instant that I know something is right. That magical moment. The fly line lifts out of the water in a sparkling rainbow pointing directly towards the running salmon.

In Glass pool, the battles are not to long. Since we've gone to 100% C&R, we're using lighter tippets and leaning harder into the rod. The leader will break or the salmon will come in. As the water was pretty warm, already over 62 degrees, I leaned back really hard. The salmon didn't want to turn at first and got into about 30 feet of backing. I walked him backwards towards the gravel bar.

Once out of the current, the fight was over. A quick flick of the fly and he was released without even touching him. I reeled up to inspect my fly and make a coffee. Christopher Chin – Proulxville Quebec

(1)Note: Many Guides will tell clients to count to three before setting the hook on a dry fly take. I prefer to watch the tip of the fly line for movement. As an experienced Guide once said on a Gaspé River, "You will rarely set the hook too late on a dry." ~ Christopher – Proulxville Quebec, Canada

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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