Our Man In Canada
October 16th, 2006

That One Fish
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada

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.

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 take.

He does!

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 block.

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 fish.

"Christopher? Christopher,...what type of fly should we use here"? Both clients are looking at me with a questioning expression.

"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

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/.

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