Our Man In Canada
January 2nd, 2006

Weather, Whether or Not
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

According to Environment Canada, up here, Canadians buy more Weather Trivia Calendars than PlayBoy Calendars.

I wonder if this is a reflection of the "politically correct" nature of us Canuks, or just a simple fact of living in a place where local weather has a profound impact on our day to day activities.

I mean, I'll change plans depending on the weather. I much prefer driving to Quebec City during a snow storm at night. I know that I'll have the road all to myself and that the white outs occur after the snow has stopped falling and the cold front moves in.

We also like to time our trout fishing so we can be on the river just before a trough moves in. It seems as if the change in weather can make a difference. This does mean that our outing will always end cold, windy and usually rainy weather though.

Of course, there's nothing better (imho) than a day on the river in a constant drizzle following several days of dry hot weather. (Boris brought 18 salmon to hand this past season jumping opportunities like that). The water cools off some, the level rises and the salmon will often start to move.

Does this mean that we are Full Contact Fly Fishers? Well, in a sense, probably. We certainly don't chase after misery though.

As in the pursuit of any outdoor activity, a bit of planning and the proper equipment can mean the difference between enduring an outing versus really enjoying your time. How do we go about this? Here's my top 10 list:

    1. Keep dry! In all seasons, this means we use "Gore-Tex" or breathable fabrics in all our stuff from waders to jackets to hats. These materials help us to keep cool in the summer and more importantly, in cool or cold weather, the insulating layers underneath will stay dry.

    2. Wear layers of clothing. In warm weather, you can peel off layers to better regulate temperature and wick moisture away. In cold weather, the layers will trap more air, insulating you better from the elements.

    3. Get a good night's rest. The night before your trip of a Lifetime, forget it, you will not sleep well. That's not really a problem. Just try to relax anyway. Even if you don't really sleep, you will gain energy (except at extreme altitudes).

    4. Drink lots (of water). In hot weather, this is an obvious recommendation. In cold weather, it's just as important so that your body can function properly. We often use sports drinks that have been diluted 50% to keep up electrolytes.

    5. Cotton is not always the best material for clothing. A cotton t-shirt under a shirt can help to wick moisture away in warm weather. Unfortunately, cotton takes a heck of a long time to dry. In cool weather, I have never worn cotton next to my skin. Further, I have never found a useful application for jeans while out of doors.

    6. Eat well. This means before and during an activity. A standard logger's breakfast is good as it has fat, complex carbs and very little sugar. Eating well usually means a good breakfast, especially in hot weather. During the day, if it's hot, snack on easily digestible stuff like bagels, soups, pasta. In cold weather, eat often.

    Preparing lunch for friends on the beach

    7. Wear a hat. A good hat will keep the sun off your head, face and the back of your neck in warm weather and keep heat in during cold weather outings. We use wide brimmed cracked wax hats in all seasons.

    Dressed for the weather - We rotated on the #8 on a cold October morning (and made a small camp fire on the beach too)

    8. Bring spare clothes. In hot humid weather, it is an utter pleasure to put on a clean fresh shirt at noon or at the end of the day. In cold weather, a change of clothes can mean the difference between a quick change or a miserable trip home after a quick "dip" in the river.

    9. In all weather, stay away from alcohol and caffeine. They will both dehydrate you. In cold weather, they will also lead to core temperature cooling.

    10. Finally, go slow. This is supposed to be fun and relaxing. So have fun. Take time out to snap a few pictures or explore the trail up behind the lake. Make a (small) camp fire to warm up and let the pool rest. Relax and prepare a real meal instead of cold sandwiches.

Caroline and Peter - Taking a break waiting for the wind to die off

Over the off season, when we look back over the past summer's journal, those days which were less than postcard perfect seem like rites of passage. How many times have you sat back with fellow anglers and looked back on those "extreme" days? Were you miserable? Or were you prepared and had a blast getting regular hits in less than perfect conditions?

We don't all have the chance to pick and choose the time and date of our fishing. Some of you will plan trips months, even years in advance. Once you get there, no matter what the conditions, a bit of preparation can help to make the most of any time on the water. (and any time on the water is better than time at work). ~ Chris

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, Renée. "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/. ~ Christopher Chin

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