Our Man In Canada
June 9th, 2008

Community. - (yes a rant, but the Publisher lets me get away with this twice per year)

By Christopher Chin - Canada

com•mu•ni•ty – noun, plural -ties.
3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists … (1).

Well that sounds pretty dull when we look up in the dictionary. The again, mere words are sometimes inadequate to express "a feeling". (especially when it's me trying to express it).

I had a chat with our publisher Deanna a short time ago and we noticed that the Community of fly fishers was quite a pleasant lot. Not just those of us who lurk around here on FAOL, but the whole group in general. Deanna, like I, has been in several communities over past few decades. For her, they have been tennis, archery, hunting, music and many others. For me they've been alpine and Nordic skiing, ski patrol, cycling and S&R. We were in agreement that the folks who gravitate towards fly fishing are in general a fine bunch.

I mean, where else can one wander down to a run, by chance meet another angler on the beach and he offers to let you do a drop while he changes flies. That would sort of be like coming up behind a hunter, seeing a nice four point and he says, "Oh, you go ahead 'n shoot".

Actually, I have come up to a similar esprit de corps in the paddling community. Maybe it has something to do with the non-competitive nature of most fly fishing (and paddling).

So why is being a community so important that I have to write about it? Well, as the definition points out, a Community is defined in part by the way we are perceived by others.

I had an unpleasant run in with a group of 12 fly anglers from another region several years ago. They were visiting for a three day stint on my home waters. I and the rest of the locals just "assumed" that they were with one of Eastern North America's oldest fly fishing organisations. (they were not).

After two days of putting up with scattered beer cans 'n bottles on the beaches, Powerbar wrappers on the trails and fish guts on the rocks, I finally packed up and left (as did several other anglers as soon as we had cleaned up the garbage and hauled it back to the pull-outs). Then I sent a few (dozen) letters to the editors in the metropolis (in English as well as in French) asking the general population not to bother coming up 'cause we didn't need that sort of visitor. For two years afterwards, I refused clients from that region, saying that we were booked.

Imagine how this group was perceived by the families of canoe campers who were on the river that same Labour Day weekend.

As you can see, I built up my perception of "city slicker" fly fishers based on my observations of this group. How do you think YOU are perceived by the locals when you travel? (or by the paddlers, "bait chuckers", visiting anglers and private land owner in your back yard).

A few of my personal guidelines for staying off of the brown-list on any river:

    - Even on your home waters, you are a visitor;

    - If you can pack it in, you can pack it out;

    - Leave closed gates closed and open gates open after you pass;

    - You WILL be treated in the same fashion as you have treated others;

In counterpoint to the group of drunks that I ran into in 1998 (so you know who YOU are), I ran into a smaller group a few years later.

I was napping on a picnic table waiting for the wind to die down when two SUV's with NY plates pulled up to the auto-registration kiosk. Not wanting to impose, I let them read through the registration instructions. They seemed to have everything in order, even policing a bit of litter up off of the counter. Then they went to string up. Classic conversation:

- One of the group "OK, where are the rods and reels?"

- Another "Billy packed them in the back."

- Billy "Oh-oh, no I didn't."

- Fourth angler "You mean …"

- First angler "Yup, … we got no gear."

They didn't cuss, nor swear nor jump up and down. They calmly cracked open some sodas and started looking for a solution.

At this point I just knew I couldn't let them waste a weekend. The salmon season was closed, so the office was closed. No rentals available there. Further, this late in the season, the nearby hardware store was packing more birdshot than 5wt rigs.

I introduced myself and asked if they needed any help. They readily accepted. It took me 15 minutes to find two spare trout rigs in the pickup. A friend pulled up about then and we had two more extra rigs quickly laid out on the picnic table along with an assortment of "local" flies.

A wonderful weekend of fishing ensued. I made four new friends and got an invite to explore the Lake Placid region. Our new found friends salvaged a weekend out of possible disaster and got to try out some new rods (as well as a fine caribou steak BBQ).

So remember that we are ambassadors of our community where ever we are. You never know when it may come in handy. We represent our sport, our home waters and our regions while we travel. The same is true when we are at home.
~ Christopher Chin – Three Rivers, Quebec, Canada

(1) American Psychological Association (APA):
Community. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved May 31, 2008, from Dictionary.com website

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, René. "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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