The Greatest Show On Earth
A smooth repetitive sweeping sound is pulsing its way
into my consciousness. Not the hard swiping rush of
someone over powering a fly rod. More of a whispering
"swoosh." In my mind's eye, I can image the medium
weight fly line unrolling out into the river.
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada
I'm lounging on the trail overlooking the #28 run on
my home waters. It's already 6:15 in the morning. I
guess that I must have kind of nodded off. I'd been
perched over the run here for the past 45 minutes,
waiting for the sun to swing over the lip of the valley.
With the wide brim of my hat pulled down to block out
some of the growing light, a good slathering of bug
dope is keeping the morning's squadron of mosquitoes
off of me. Yup,...I just dozed off.
I don't even look down into the run. I can tell from
the rhythm of the casts that whoever is down there
must be casting pretty far out and down. On each pause,
(while the wet fly swings through the run) I can imaging
the angler attentively watching the fly,...searching for
movement, a flash or a boil.
I lift my head a few inches up off the sandy trail and
I can just see the back cast as it snakes it's way up
between the spruce and the birch (it does help to
"keepeth thy back cast upeth"). One back cast and back
into the run, no false cast. I can hear the soft "thunk"
as several feet of line shoot out and the cast lays out
solidly...tugging on the reel.
Judging from the position the angler has chosen to cast
from, I can tell he's only going to work about ten feet
of run. There's a "pot" 30 feet out and 50 feet downstream.
That's exactly where the fly is swinging to. (The same
pot I was going to drop a bug bushy dry into).
As the fly swings by, four feet upstream from the edge
of the pot, a monstrous form detaches itself from the
bottom and lunges forward towards the fly. A soft boil,
a refusal and the salmon circles back downstream ten
feet before repositioning himself in the pot.
Now that I've seen the salmon move, I can easily pick him
out from amongst the rock strewn river bed. A wonderful
sight. Liquid silver. A fresh from the salt buck, probably
The angler too has seen the boil and has let the line
swing into the beach. He's waiting. Thinking about
strategy. He changes NOTHING. He strips OUT about two
feet of line. One smooth back cast and out. This time,
he mends a solid three feet of downstream belly into
The fly swings towards the pot again. With the downstream
mend, it is swinging faster and the extra line means that
it will still be gliding past the same spot.
This time the salmon has less time to react. The rapidly
trotting fly is just too much. A lunge, a flash and the
hook is set.
The #28 is a beautiful rolling run with plenty of current.
On the downstream swing on a tight line, the fish is
instantly pulling the backing out through the guides.
As the angler didn't even jump when the salmon struck,
I figure he has things in hand and I decide not to
As the salmon runs 80 feet out of the run, he soon turns
into the back eddy off of the sandy point and comes back
into the current. Rapidly reeling in the line as the
salmon starts to make his way back, the angler is recovering
line, but not tiring the fish. A smooth lift on the rod
and the salmon remembers/realizes that something is still
wrong, - He leaps!
I hear the angler utter almost under his breath "Wow."
The same pattern repeats itself 3-4 times. The salmon
doesn't want to go down through the back eddy and keeps
coming back to his "pot." He is only running about
100 feet before turning back but is still tiring slowly
in the 60 degree water. Each time he wants to settle
back into his lair, a smooth lean from the rod sends
him leaping then running back downstream.
Finally the salmon tires enough to be muscled close to
shore. The angler positions himself nicely in some calf
deep water, tails the salmon (with some pretty nifty
rod and line control) and works the fly free.
No pumping to rejuvenate the salmon, he's gone in a flash.
The angler spools up and trots up off the beach to the
trail. As he comes by he finally notices me and says,
"Life doesn't get much better than that, eh."
I reply, "Greatest show on earth, Thanks." ~ Christopher 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