Fishing alone – Maybe you're missing something
The solitude of fishing alone can be a wonderful experience.
On the other hand, on occasion, a fishing partner can lend a
real helping hand. While river fishing, especially for Atlantics,
a fishing partner can help out by setting up in a spot to over
look the run or pool. Why?
By Chris Chin, Proulxville Quebec, Canada
Well, first off, he or she can help to spot fish. Once they
are sighted, your partner can also confirm that the fish are
still there and not spooked away by your first cast.
In my honest opinion, the most valuable aspect of a partner
is when the salmon move to, but don't take the fly. Quite
often, in their refusal, the fish will turn and give us a "flash."
For an unsuspecting angler, or just one who isn't paying proper
attention to the drift, the spotter can feed back some important
A couple weeks ago I was lunching on a favourite pool when I
ran into Yvon who was guiding a visitor, Stéphane Gosselin(1).
We chatted for a bit and then I sent them across the pool.
Earlier that morning, my group and I had run into some
salmon holding several yards farther upstream than the "usual
spot." With a grin, Yvon shepherded Stéphane out onto the point
while I set up on the gallery to watch the show.
Instead of setting off of his partner's shoulder, Yvon
waded upstream then forded the river. Moving gingerly
downstream through the underbrush, he was able to take
up an observation post right next to the salmon (all
the while making sure as to not create a silhouette
and spook the salmon).
As I had already spotted the salmon earlier in the day,
Yvon sort of cheated and set up Stéphane directly onto
the salmon on a downstream wet (instead of carefully
working the slick from the top). On the second swing, I
saw a flash under the fly as did Yvon. From his vantage
point, Stéphane saw nothing. Breaking all the rules, Yvon
directed Stéphane downstream a couple yards just in case
there were more salmon holding in the current.
After a few fruitless swings, Yvon calls over to me and
we agree that a change in tactics is in order. The water
is already 68 degrees and the sun is high. There is no
wind and Stéphane seems to be pretty able with a fly rod.
Anyway, we'll only have him cast about 25 feet with the
big bushy dry fly.
Stéphane starts a dead drift of a big #4 dry. From Yvon's
vantage point, he can see that the fly just isn't quite
dropping "in the Zone." We like to land a dry just on
the edge of the salmon's cone of vision. The salmon just
aren't reacting to the fly.
A couple more casts; a few words to get the communication sorted
out between spotter and angler then Stéphane drops the dry right
where we want. An urgent boil but no take! I'm not sure who was
more surprised, Stéphane or the cameraman who scrabbled to get
We urge Stéphane to wait about 1 minute. On the next cast the
fly is instantly submerged in a boil. The interminable 2-3 second
wait. The hook set and the salmon is soon pulling out line. The
salmon decides on her own accord to circle back through the pool
as Stéphane furiously recuperates line. After several minutes
of light play and 2-3 spectacular leaps, Stéphane starts to "walk
the salmon" back up towards the gravel bar.
One more leap from the 10-12 lb salmon and the fly pulls out.
A sportsman, Stéphane is truly content with the action and
leaves the slick so that others can come in later in the day.
Chris spotting for clients on Glass Pool - By setting up where the fly is
drifting, a fishing partner can often see things the angler cannot.
If Yvon hadn't have been spotting for our friend this day, it is
unlikely that Stéphane would have seen the initial flash for his
wet fly. As the salmon were holding in a peculiar lie he wouldn't
have had the reflex to try a dry so far upstream either.
On some occasions, while fishing alone, we never know what
we're missing. ~ Christopher Chin – Proulxville Quebec
(1) Stéphane Gosselin is well known in Quebec for the French language
fishing show which he hosts every Saturday morning.
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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