Why We Fish II – Sharing our passion
I once read somewhere (David Hughes I think)
that a fly fisher goes through several phases
or stages in their evolution.
By Christopher Chin, Jonquiere Quebec
1. Angler wants to catch A fish,...any fish,...
doesn't matter if it's small or big,...just a fish.
One can progress through all the stages and come
to the 5th "level." Go there if you like, but be
prepared to be humbled.
2. Angler wants to catch many fish,...lots and
lots of fish,...size doesn't matter, just lots
of action (like Bows on the Blackwater).
3. Angler wants to catch a big fish, trophy
stuff, bruisers and monsters.
4. Angler wants to catch lots of big fish.
5. Angler wants to catch the difficult fish,
Salmo salar, Bones, hike in stuff,...challenging
IMHO, we can add a further phase to this list:
Angler wants to transmit their passion to another.
I may have skipped some steps along the way, but
I now have the opportunity to pass on my passion
for this sport to my new family. After fishing
then guiding for several years here on the
Ste-Marguerite River (Saguenay) in Central
Quebec, I met my new girlfriend and her son.
A turning point in my life, for the very first
time, I wanted to be with someone else on the
river bank besides the 'ole Red Fox that had
been hanging around for years. The Ste-Marguerite
is an Atlantic Salmon river, so it is a rare day
that an angler connects to more than a couple
fish. We do have a nice sea run Brook Trout fishery,
so that helps a tad in the success rate.
Unfortunately for my girlfriend Renée, Atlantics
and sea run trout are a bit notorious for being
difficult fish. So this means, in the evolution
of this new comer to the sport, she'd be doing three
phases at the same time, that is:
Going to try to get one very big and difficult fish.
Her expectations weren't high, she just wanted
that one fish. We fished for a couple dozen days
on the lower reaches, teaching her the basics
and just all around loving the time together.
A typical pool on the lower reaches of the Ste-Marguerite (Pool #9)
Eventually, we got around to visiting the upper
reaches of the river. Not a good idea...
You see, on the Big Pool in the 5A zone of my
homewaters, you can sit up on the observatory
and actually see the salmon and trout lazing
around in the current. These trout in the upper
reaches run between 3 and 8 lbs. The salmon
(small compared to other rivers) range from
12 to 30 lbs. Not bad "targets" for a newbie.
Renée declares: "We have to try for those fish!"
I try to explain that these fish have been there
for over 6 weeks and that they didn't get so big
by being dumb,...but to no avail. The following
weekend we reserved our rods and set up camp next
to the Game Warden's cottage.
5:30 Saturday morning and Renée is roaring to go.
Even though it's part of the upper reaches of the
river, Big Pool didn't get its name because you
could jump across it. Using the 9ft 8weight rods,
we set out to casting to pods and pods of lunkers
(most casts being from 30-60 ft).
The trout and salmon are pretty well mixed together.
I figure, as the water flows go down in pools,
the fish tolerate schooling more and more.
The fish are there, Renée just can't figure out
why they don't bite. Setting up to watch me from
the observatory, she sees the trout and an
occasional salmon moving to come inspect an
offering. For then next 12 hours, Renée casts
to these beasts. Nothing. I connect to two, but
it's more luck than skill.
Trying for a pod of bruisers on the upper reaches – Zone 5A
As evening falls, we move up to the rapids as
the bruisers sometimes come out to play. I set
up Renée in the dying light. Putting my feet
up on a stump and settle in hoping Renée can
connect. Just as I'm starting to think we'll
be skunked, she starts getting a kind of panic
stricken look. Backing up and out of the current
she's quietly asking: "Christopher,...What's
that?...What's that? It's a monster!!"
She takes the final two strides to clear the
water and scrambles up onto the rocky beach.
Just as she does, we see the head of a Beaver
poke through the surface. Seems he has come
out to do the rounds. This is no ordinary
beaver. I can't guess at its weight, but it
must get its vitamin supplements from a drug
store. Big, fat and not afraid of some poor
woman standing in his way.
This was in 2003, incidentally, Renée has never
returned to Big Pool to fish. She has found
other pools and runs that she prefers. Not
because we catch more fish, but because she
prefers sharing the moment over the actual
catching of fish. (although she does catch fish)
After the episode with the beaver, Renée is
done for the day. Over 13 hours of non-stop
casting big flies is enough. She has tried
to skip a few levels of the game and has
Renée with her very first ever trout on a fly – Pool
#49 Ste-MargueriteRv 2003. ~ Christopher Chin
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
Our Man In Canada Archives