That One Fish
I don't know if you're like me, but I can remember
vividly certain fish that I've caught. Actually, I
don't catch lots and lots of fish, so this is easier
than you may think.
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada
This past Saturday, I was out on the river with visitors.
It was a typical mid-October day in Central Quebec. The
river was a bit high because of the rain that we got this
week. The morning was sunny and cool (about 32 degrees F.)
but a cold front was to move through before noon.
Strung up and looking over the #8 run, I looked across the
water to the beach on the far side and had a vivid flashback
to the first BIG brook trout I had ever caught. I was momentarily
whisked back over a decade and a half to that beach.
Back then, I fished alone. Actually, I didn't really know
anyone on the river, except for the biologist who would take
samples of all the sea run brook trout anglers caught. I
was trying out my new baby, a medium-weight salmon rod.
I get a bit of a chuckle now, because back then, my (now
ex) wife said to friends that the new rod was a waste of money
as my "new found" hobby of fly fishing was just some sort of
passing phase. Anyway...I digress...
The day was exactly the same. Cool sunny and no wind. Down
the valley I can see a front coming in from the Atlantic.
The water is COLD, about 35 degrees and as I wade into the
pool, the icy throb in my knees reminds me that I'm not 20
any more, and that if I was, I'd probably go a bit easier
on the chassis.
I have been quite happy over the last few seasons with the
medium sized trout that I've been catching here. Ten to fourteen
inches for a juvenile sea run brook trout is quite respectable.
With my heavier rod I'm feeling more confident to cast a
mouse out into the wide pool. I shorten up the leader,
chopping it back to an 8 lb tippet. I snug up the knot on
#6 deer hair mouse and start stripping out line.
There are no rises on the pool, but I'm confident there
are still trout there. They'll winter over in this deep
pool, taking an occasional sortie up to the salmon spawning
beds to gorge themselves on roe.
Casting straight out into the pool, the "fly" lands with a
PLOP. I keep the rod tip almost in the water and start
stripping the mouse back in a popping and gurgling retrieve.
I do the same presentation several times, quartering my casts
up towards the head of the pool. Mid way through a false
cast, I hear more than see a slow gentle rise out and down
to the left about 50 feet.
I quickly shift the cast and drop the fly a few feet
farther out than where I had seen the rise.
A pop and a burp of the fly and I see the nose of a trout
peek out from the surface and start following the fly. I
keep stripping back in, praying the trout will decide to
The fly disappears and I lift the rod tip. The weight of
the trout leans into the rod in a flash. This is no juvenile
trout! He doesn't run, instead he simply pulls out into mid
stream and starts to do a pretty good impression of a cinder
I try to reel him in and the rod just bends over. I try to
lift the rod back, but decide it isn't a good idea to break
a rod on the first day.
Praying that the hook is set on my side of the fish, I
scrabble downstream several yards to try to get him to
turn with me. He does and I gain a few yards of line.
After 10 or 15 minutes of playing cat and mouse like this,
he starts to tire a bit and I finally bring him to hand.
A gorgeous adult male in full autumn colours, about 25
inches. The barbless hook slides out easily and he is
back in the pool. I watch him disappear into the deep, a
big smile on my face slowly gives way to laughter.
I sit back on the sandy beach for a few moments, talking
out loud to myself, congratulating myself on a splendid
"Christopher? Christopher,...what type of fly should we
use here"? Both clients are looking at me with a questioning
"Huh? Oh,...I think we'll start out with some mice. One
just never knows if the cats will come out and play."
~ Chris Chin, Jonquiere Quebec
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
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,
Our Man In Canada Archives