Our Man In Canada
June 23rd, 2008

How to Effectively "Not" Fish a Pool (Summer Rerun)
By Chris Chin

Friends called Thursday and asked about coming up late in the season for trout 'n salmon. They wanted to know if early September would have both adult and juvenile sea run brookies in the river.

As my memory is starting to get skewed by age, I dug out my old journals to compare dates etc with "success" rates.

As I browsed through 10 years of notes for the same period on the same river, I came to the shocking realization that I was actually connecting with less and less trout. (not a very good revelation for a part-time Guide, but then again, that's one of the reasons to keep a Journal).

So what's the "problem?" No swear, global warming! Aha! Not my fault after all! Or, in the grand scheme of things, Mars just isn't lining up with Jupiter in the right configuration, so it really is out of my control eh?

With a slow sinking feeling of regret, I started to think that I was doing something different. To add oil to the fire, I thought back to the previous week. Fishing had been slow up and down the river. Absolutely no one was connecting to trout nor salmon (so I thought).

While relaxing and working on strategy with a client (we were working on connecting to a salmon), we ran into Serge Vincent, a long time Guide on the river.

Me: "Hi 'ya Serge, not much action today eh? I figure the low water and brilliant sunshine have put down the trout pretty well for the rest of the day."

Serge: (in his typical calm manner) "Yup, really slow, I only kept two trout and released two others."

Me: "We saw your pickup over on the #43, you must have been there at the crack of dawn."

Serge: "Actually, I got a slow start out of the house and only started at 10h00."

My ego deflated by a few PSI, I could image Serge fishing alone on the #43. A methodical angler, he would have started at the head of the run and worked his way down, dead drifting a Juliet Hopper out in the current with progressively longer and longer casts (starting a mere 4-5 feet from the gravel bar).

He'd probably only cast 1-2 times to each lane, figuring that if the trout was there, it would take the fly on the very first presentation (as he'd shown me years before). If the trout (which ARE there we know) don't take to that offering, he'll settle in on the beach in the shade, leisurely select another fly (a sparsely tied Mickey Finn?) listen to the river for a while, then slowly start up again at the head of the run.

Picturing this in my mind, I look back to the way we've been fishing for the past three seasons.

I don't fish alone anymore. Since meeting my girlfriend and her son, we always spend time on the water as a family. Being new to the passion, the two of them find as much pleasure in the act of casting as actually catching fish, and therein lies perhaps the problem.

Sea run brook trout (and I imagine, their resident cousins elsewhere in Eastern North America) are shy things. When a herd of anglers comes stomping down the trail and starts whipping up a pool or run, the results are pretty well pre-determined. The trout hunker down in lies or drift away to get away from the commotion.

Vince & Pascal whippin' up a storm on the #47, I wonder if the trout haven't sought refuge elsewhere?

I guess it all comes down to balance. We fish for fun, to spend time on the water together, not so much to fill the freezer with trout.

"Crowded" for my home waters

The gang is learning to relax and "rest a run"

That said, fly fishers want to catch fish. Sure we can say we are there for the experience, but deep down inside, a connection now and then is the ultimate goal.

So take your time. Even in a group, try rotating on a pool or run. If the trout are refusing, take a break (or a nap). I call this, 'Letting the trout reflect on IT'S errors.'

Jack Crawford working the run on #48 - and taking his time and subsequently landing a nice Grisle

I look back on how I used to fish runs. I'd often only actually cast a few times every 10-15 minutes. Ever take your time changing flies (maybe untangling some wind knots) the BANG, splashy take on the very first cast?

Was it the new fly that did it? Or maybe just the fact that the pool had "gotten a rest?"

René with her very first trout. First cast after we had "rested" the slick for about 45 minutes.

I guess the old saying, "Slow down to get there faster" is appropriate. Or as my old Gunney would say, "You may only get one shot, do it right." ~ Christopher Chin – Three Rivers, 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, 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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