Our Man In Canada
March 25th, 2005

A New Beginning
By Christopher Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

Funny things can wake you up in the middle of the night...the snow plow lumbering down the street at 4 AM, the dog wandering about downstairs,...Wait a minute, I'm on the river, ...how come I'm awake at 3 o'clock in the morning...?

Oh, it's cold. Not freezing,... just a chill coming through the layers of blankets. Fire in the wood stove must be out. Still dark as its mid September, I quietly roll out of bed to stoke up the fire. As the embers lick into the slats of spruce and the flames start to dance to the music of the crackling softwood, I look around the tent to make sure things are still in shape for the day's fishing ahead.

The rods are strung up and ready in the rack outside the tent flap. Kenny (the dawg) is curled up on my bunk. The breakfast dishes are laid out. My favorite "clients" are still tucked in.

(Renee and Vince ... Dreaming of fishing?)

Instead of crawling back into bed, I decide to take a stroll to see if the water level has dropped a lot during the night.

Out in the night air, the stars are winking a hello to me and the waning half moon illuminates the ground. Ample light for a walk around... No Northern Lights this morning,...maybe in three weeks. I pull on some hipsters as there is a heavy dew. No frost yet. That too should be along in a couple more weeks.

I light up the camp stove to get the coffee going then head over to have a look at the river and say hi to the 10 or so Salmon who've been stationed there for the past 6 weeks.

Still there, the big bull seems to hear me arrive and lays over on his side for an instant, flash of silver reflecting back at me in the moonlight, winking a salutation as if to say, "season is closed...maybe next year."

I trot back to the camp before the percolator can boil over. This is the moment I've come to cherish. The smell of coffee starting to wisp about the camp, no other anglers are coming by yet. It isn't the solitude that I now look for. I'm anticipating the moment when the family will start waking up for another day on the river, together.

Usually, with clients, I'll start making a tad more noise about now, sort of like a breakfast call. Instead, when Renee and Vincent are here, I'll keep things quiet and prepare breakfast almost in silence. The smell of bacon and onions will wake them up any way in a bit.

(Preparing breakfast for my favorite "clients")

A half pound of bacon and an onion are already prepared and they go into the skillet. As the first slices of toast go into the grill, a new friend arrives. The Old Red Fox wasn't here last season and a young male seems to have taken his place. I think he knows that Kenny will chase after him, so he always comes early, grabs a toast and leaves for the day.

Things get rolling a bit faster now. I bring into the tent the regular fair for breakfast. Bacon 'n onion omelet, toast, coffee, juice and baked beans. The family is sitting up in bed,...they too anticipating the day as much as I.

Over breakfast we work out the game plan for the day. Slow leisurely start, down to the #8 before anyone else arrives. If that doesn't pan out, we'll come back here to the 23, lunch, nap then finish the day depending on the direction of the wind. (Renee and Vincent have only been fly fishing for 3 seasons, so we usually chose pools and runs where they are sheltered from the wind).

Vincent has been following Renee and I ever since I met her 3 years ago. What's a good way to break the ice with the 11 year old son of your new girlfriend? ...Bring them fishing of course. That was almost three years ago and we've never looked back.

After almost three full seasons later, slogging through black flies, mosquitoes, rain, sleet, wind and snow squalls, it WOULD be nice if Vincent would catch a trout. I promise myself that today will be the day. A cold front will be moving in this afternoon, so its got to be this morning.

We arrive on the #8 pool an hour or so later. The sun is just starting to warm the air and the breeze is holding off. I pull out the canoe from its hiding place in the alders and we ferry across to the back eddy on the far side.

Vince knows where to cast to, he gingerly wades out on the point and starts laying out a "pumpkin."

I cozy up to Renee on the beach and we watch our son casting 55 ft out to the seam. An instant later we hear those famous words (cried out in utter excitement) "I got one!"

Not a typical teenager, more calm and collected than most, he has set the hook on reflex action. Now however, he's looking at me with a "what do I do now" look. I tell him to let it run. The trout bolts downstream past me and I see that the #8 wooly is set firmly in the hinge (good, ... the barb is pinched down, but not completely).

I come up beside Vincent and help him guide the trout back up into the pool. (Usually, we'd high tail it downstream to stay across from it, but I don't feel like spending the rest of the day drying clothes over the fire.) After a few (short) minutes, the trout comes to hand. Being his first EVER trout, it's a keeper. Taking his picture, Vince's hands are shaking.

The experience is burned into his memory,...

another step forward on his own journey...

a new beginning for him. ~ Christopher Chin

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 8 years now and started guiding about 3 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 40 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 last October."

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christophers website, www3.sympatico.ca/chris_chin/

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