Our Man In Canada
January 9th, 2006

Role models - Some ramblings and a Rant
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

When I was growing up in the Canadian Rockies, the Chief Forester was more than just "The Brass." He was also sort of a pillar of the community. The "Go To" person when you were in a jam, no matter what. In my honest opinion, all communities have them, no matter what the principal activity out there is. They are the Head Wardens, the Lead Guides, the Team Leaders, the Lead Rope and the Mountain Guides.

They are also on many occasions those who don't stand out so quickly in a crowd. Point leads a group, but "Six" is the Leader.

When I started my career as a forester, we'd look up to these guys (and Gals). They had the experience to speak with humility and respect, and the wisdom to know when not to speak at all. After all, actions do speak more clearly than words.

I always wondered if these guys and gals knew what was about and that they were role models for me?

I also wondered if they chose that role or if it was handed off to them?

Well, when the River Association here asked me to Guide for them, I found out the answer to this last question. You get what Life gives you. You work at keeping it (or losing it).

I didn't go into this blindly. After working for quite a few years managing public forest lands out here, I knew that simple "knowledge" isn't the same thing as "wisdom." As a sort of sign for the love of the resource and passion for the sport, I accepted. Not that I really had to change anything I didn't already do.

At about the same time, I found myself with an instant family, including an eleven year old son. Funny how there is no manual to Guiding Salmon fishing, just as there is no instruction sheet for Parenting. I figured the only thing to do was as I'd always seen and done. Teach by example.

The "examples" turned out to be more than simply choosing the right fly, mending the line the right way or keeping a tight line. As Junior will usually be by my side on the river, even sometimes when I Guide, "examples" means, up an hour before the clients (or Mom) to make sure everything is ship shape, respect and appreciation always for nature, courteous respect towards others (usually).

Camp is always tidy (and the coffee always hot)

I've also learned that the smallest gesture can get burned into the brain of another. Simple acts could incite another to share in our passion while other acts could portray us as elitist snobs. You just never know who will be watching.

Marie-Frederique and Grandma look on as I prepare a commemorative fly for her mom's very first trout

I just wish that some of the rabble that pass themselves off as "Rap" singers, professional athletes or movie actors would realise that many people (young and old) look up to them as role models.

Just before Christmas, I was labouring through a joint meeting between the Ministry of Forests and a few other forest companies, trying to iron out some details on the fire salvage plans. As the rep from the government was droning on, I looked around the table and came to a stunning realisation,...10 of the 12 other foresters around the table were younger than me!

Not just younger, but probably born after I could legally drink!

I zapped a text message across the table to Peter, a fellow forester over at Bowater.

"From CHINC 2 Pete - U thnkng wat I am??"

Peter replied: "Yup! We R the OLD GUYS here!"

Well, I guess I'll just have to watch what I say. ~ 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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