Salvelinus fontinalis. Lots of anglers have the
impression that Brookies are just dumb. A Brook Trout will
often chase after flies which have no resemblance to natural food
prey. They also have a reputation for a feeding frenzy behaviour,
coming back to flies again and again (much to the delight of novice
and experienced anglers alike).
By Chris Chin
IMHO, Brookies get their ill earned reputation because of where
we often find them: Remote mountain streams and brooks. (well,
South of 60 anyway). (Right: David on the Tellico). In these areas,
fishing pressure is low and food sources are even lower. In this type
of habitat, the Brook Trout is at the top of the aquatic food chain. If
it's in the water and it moves, it should be food! The bigger the better.
This myth is also a minor source of frustration for visitors to my home
waters. You see, on the Ste-Marguerite River here in Central, Quebec,
the Brook Trout are of the anadromous variety. That is to say, they are
sea run trout (well, Char, but who really cares). The adults come into
the river at about the same time as the Atlantics and for the very same
reason. They come here to spawn. In a logical quark of evolution, they
also don't eat (very much) over the summer. After all, if they DID, they
would be preying on their very own young.
Having survived in the maritime environment for several years, these
adults are also very wary. Gone is the blatant urge to chase anything
in sight regardless of cover. After all, in the salt water, a 6 lb trout is
little match for a seal or Beluga. Luckily for us, we still do get a shot
at these trout. Sometime only one shot at that.
I got stuck in the office until well past supper, so didn't get to the river
until well past midnight. Since I didn't want to wake up the Warden at
nearly 02h30 in the morning, I simply unrolled my sleeping bag on the
little porch of the guard shack on the #49 and sacked out. Lounging
under the stars, I was occasionally woken up by the sounds of rises
and boils out on the pool. The characteristic urgency of the attacks
typical of adult brook trout hunting for mice and voles in the darkness.
Needless to say, at 04h30, the coffee was perking and I was stringing
up a 6 wt by the dim light of my headlamp.
The walk down to the run is short, but it gives me time to clear the
cobwebs and have a good listen. I can hear the run babbling out
down to the #47, so I know that the water level must be really low.
The night time air temperature never got below 50, so the water must
be well over 58. This is going to be tough!
I gingerly slide down from the trail to the gravel beach and dump
my kit bag on a log. I wait. There! A splashy rise resounds across
the pool. In the mist shrouded darkness, the sound is diffused and
I can't get a bearing. I'll wait. Five minutes later, another rise. I still
didn't see it (heck, I can barely see my feet). It's 05h10 and legally,
I can start casting (1 hour before sunup), but I don't want to blow
this. (I have absolutely no idea why one calls this civil twilight: No
civilian in their right mind should be out and about at this hour!).
There is a big adult taking prey off of the surface. It's probably been
active all night and is getting in a last few licks before daylight streams
into the valley. By lamplight, I stiffen up the leader and tie on a nice
big #4 mouse. Well, it used to look like a mouse. Now it's simply an
unruly "blob" of deer hair on a debarded bomber hook.
Another boil and this time I get a good bearing to the source. It's
hiding just down stream of the big spruce which was uprooted this
spring. The tree is leaning out 15 feet into the current; its branches
reaching down to within two feet of the water's surface. I wait and
watch some more. This should interesting.
Once it's light enough to see the island 800 feet upstream, I rise and
slowly wade into the water. Breaking ALL the rules, I decide to cast
to this one trout. To get my meagre offering into the proper lane, I'll
have to cast, dump some line and mend several times, effectively
blowing any chances to fish the rest of the pool.
The cast isn't long, and the mouse lands tight up to the far bank. I
draw out another 10-15 feet of line and throw two hard upstream
mends to keep the fly out and away (I love 10 foot rods). As the
fly drifts straight down stream, I'm still not fishing it; I just want it to
slide under the tree branches.
Once it gets right under the base of the uprooted tree, I start to fish.
One short draw and the line is straight. I strip the line in short 6 inch
movements and I can see the mouse gently burping and gurgling its
way through the surface. Just as the fly gets to the trout's lair, I pause.
The take is spectacular!
The trout inhales the fly and turns back towards the far bank in a
heartbeat. I lift the rod at the same time that I set the hook with my
stripping hand. The few short feet of loose line easily slides up and
out the guides. I gingerly back up towards the beach to get some stable
footing and to get the trout out of the current.
There is barely any current anyway so the trout has no choice but to
follow me. It zigs and zags around the pool a bit, but keeps on coming
in. The water is actually over 62, so this will be done pretty fast.
The trout is on the reel and the 60 feet of line is quickly recuperated.
A short 5-10 minutes later and I'm kneeling in the shallow water. I slide
my hand down the leader, grab the fly and hold it firmly. In the growing
light I can see that it's a big female, well over 24 inches and that she is
cleanly hooked. The trout gives one last head shake and she's away in
Big Brook Trout don't get this big 'cause they're Dumb.
I spool up the rest of the line and leader and head back towards
the pickup just as a rain shower starts. I'll be meeting friends in the
afternoon and I would like to let the pool rest for the remainder of
the day. In the meanwhile, there are salmon in the #47 and the cool
rain might just be the ticket!
It's shaping up to be a fine September day on the River.
Nicole going after bruisers on the #48. With a tight loop, she is
able to drop the dry straight out and under the overhanging branches
to the lair. ~ Christopher Chin, Three Rivers Quebec.
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 44 years old as of this writing. He
is of Chinese origin although his parents were
born and raised in Jamaica.
To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River,
website. You can email Chis at: Flyfishing.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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