Our Man In Canada
July 3rd, 2006

Myth Busted
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec

There is a myth about Atlantic salmon fishing that one must endure true hardship, bugs, ornery Guides, long sweat soaked days and thousands and thousands of casts (sometimes spread over several seasons) before connecting to that first salmon. Hmm...

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with a fellow angler from the Quebec City region.

Michel G is an active member the Catshalac fishing club. (http://www.catshalac.com). After some serious reflection and an even more serious winter preparation, he decided to come up and explore our home waters for a day.

I met up with Michel Saturday evening at the cottage he had rented, because he wanted to talk flies. When he opened up his fly cases, I was simply amazed by the variety and quality of Atlantic salmon flies he had prepared over the winter. A couple HUNDRED flies!

After an hour chatting and we parted company for the evening, arranging to meet up again the next morning, bright and early around 05h45.

This year, the spring break-up has so far been the only influx of water we have had up here. The salmon arrived fairly early, but the low and relatively clear water have convinced many salmon to switch into summer lurking mode already. We need to find some 'fresh from the salt' salmon.

I arrive back outside his cottage at about 05h30 to make myself some breakfast. Michel has been up for an hour already. I have a coffee and a couple Western sandwiches*.

We sign in and head straight up to the run leading into Glass Pool.

Glass pool

To get a feeling for how Michel can cast and control his line, we start slowly down the run which leads into the pool with a classic downstream swing (with a White Muddler Minnow of all things).

Ten to twelve casts into the run, edging his way down patiently, we get a sharp rise from a salmon, but no take on the fly. Good news normally. I am worried though that the salmon will act as they have been for three weeks, rising to any fly, but not taking one.

Slowly we work our way down the run in the rising morning sun. There is no breeze (no bugs either). I want to arrive in the "V" formed by the current and the pool just as the sun light will swing around the bluff and strike the pool.

After working our way about two thirds of the way down the run, we see a nice rise out in the "V". Just like a seasoned Vet, Michel calmly continues to work his way down the run. When we arrive at the end of the run, we turn right and wade out into the pool to set up for dries.

We tie on a nicely tied (by Michel) #2 White Bird and set up about thirty feet from the "Bottom" of the inverted "V" formed by the current and the pool.

(This is getting nerve wracking.)

Michel casts once far upstream to get used to the oversized dry and to make sure the leader will turn over the fly. The next cast lays out perfectly ten degrees upstream in the current and begins its fateful drift towards destiny.

Ten seconds into the drift and a splashy rise envelopes the fly...It IS GONE!

Michel had been apprehensive all evening (as well as all spring) that his reactions would be too quick, too used to trout fishing. The salmon took the fly so quickly and smoothly that it set the hook all by itself as it turned left to return to its lair.

The battle begins.

Even on the #8 salt water rod, in a heart beat the salmon has Michel several yards into the backing. Something our newest adept at the sport has not often seen (the backing that is.)

Seeing the splash (and hearing the shouts), the Warden, his wife and grandson set up on the gallery to watch the show.

It is 8h20, Sunday June 25th 2006. Exactly eighty minutes into his pursuit of Salmo salar and Michel Gauvin is set up in Glass Pool, sun beaming almost as clearly as the smile in his eyes, ninety feet of line and ten yards of backing on a tight line connected to 14-15 lbs of very unhappy salmon.

As the water is already 64 degrees, the salmon doesn't do battle for more than about twenty minutes. Jumping only two or three times, the air show is none the less very spectacular. On the second leap I am convinced that it has shaken loose the hook.

We "walk" the salmon up to the shoal and it comes to hand shortly. A quick photo and the barbless hook slides free.

As the salmon eases back into the pool to recuperate, there is a spattering of applause from the gallery; the warden and his family congratulating Michel on his success.

Congratulations Michel on a superb first Atlantic salmon. May there be many more in the rivers you shall visit.

~ Chris Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

* Western Sandwiches are a fine substitute for breakfast when the client is chomping at the bit. Three or four eggs scrabbled over bacon and onions between a couple slices of whole wheat bread.

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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