The Brook Trout - Dumb trout?
I was born and raised in the Southern Interior of
British Columbia, Specifically Kamloops; home of
the world famous Kamloops Rainbow. (For a century,
believed to be a genetically separate variety of
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada
Charles Jardine once named the Kamloops region as
one of his all time favourite fly fishing destinations.
For more on Kamloops lakes, see some of the articles
The Bill Nation
Kamloops Area Lakes, Part 3 by Art Lingren..
Naturally, this meant that the only species we fished
for in my youth were Rainbows. I can remember in college,
when friends would find summer jobs in the Far East
(well...Saskatchewan), we would shrug our shoulders
and then console them. The money would be good, even
if there would only be Pike, Char and Walleyes.
I can also remember stories of friends coming back from
Northern Quebec. They went there for the Caribou, but
got in lots of fishing for Brook Trout. Salvelinus
fontinalis. Speckled Trout, Brookies, Square
tails...Call them what you will, they were Monsters. 8,
9 even 10 lbs. The most intriguing part of their stories
was the ease at which they were catching these "trout"
(actually, a Brook Trout is a Char).
It seems that many fly fishers find that brookies are a
bit dumb and will jump at any offering. Further, the
flies that could be used were often big and ugly, lacking
all the finesse of those used in "match the hatch" fly
fishing for "real" trout. This "myth" has led to some
severe disappointment and hours of frustration for many
an angler here on our home waters.
You see, the Ste-Marguerite River in Central Quebec has
a magnificent run of sea run Brook Trout. Unfortunately,
many folks don't realize that the anadromous variety of
this population is quite a bit different from their "put
'n take" brethrens.
Sea run Brook Trout don't eat while in the river; at least
not very often.
First off, the adult trout which return to the river to
spawn didn't get to be +5 lbs by being dumb! They have
spent a few years in the very hostile marine environment.
They are easily frightened and put down. They are curious
but skittish. They won't flee from a holding pool, but
will slowly drift away from an angler who may be shuffling
around too much on the beach.
In my experience, the sea run trout here act very much
like their Salmo salar cousins. No one knows why they
eventually move and rise to a fly. All the classic bets
are valid: Curiosity, aggression, hard wiring to eat,
low fat reserves...
For whatever the reason, fly fishing for these monsters
is a joy. Far from being the "dumb trout" of childhood
legends, we use a variety of strategies; fly selections,
presentations and tactics.
After almost two years of learning the ropes, my (then new)
girlfriend, Renée was getting antsy to connect to her first
trout. Instead of whipping up a storm and thrashing the pool
to death, I had her slow down and rest the pool.
After showing some friends how to fish the #49 for a couple
hours, they moved off to another run. Renée and I strolled
back to camp for a long lunch and a nap. After letting the
run rest for a while, we slowly made our way up the trail
to try again.
As we are walking the 500 yards back to the beach, we can
both feel that this was going to work.
Back then, a yellow birch had been uprooted during spring
run off and was lodged in the run, mid stream. Trout were
holding all around it, finding shelter in the shadows as
well as in the deep water where hydraulic effects had
scoured out the gravel bottom around this obstacle.
All morning we had been practicing different stripping
retrieves, so this afternoon we will be going the dead
I had Renée set up straight across from the yellow birch
and cast straight up and out. The rabbit strip muddler
laid in the film, drifting towards the pod of trout.
On the first pass, a small female charged up from the
bottom in a flash of silver and refused at the last
instant. Like a seasoned pro, Renée let the fly continue
its drift. Five seconds later and the trout is back, this
time taking the fly hard from the surface in a boil and
plunging back towards the deep.
The line is instantly tight and Renée is almost into the
backing before the trout turns again and pulls hard in
the slow current. Her very first trout on a fly rod and
Renée is amazed by the power of the animal, which is now
using the current to its advantage.
Sailing in the current, the trout is sitting midstream,
hovering off the bottom...doing its best imitation of
a cinder block. Luckily, we have set up Renée's line
with a medium weight tippet and she is able to muscle
the trout off of the bottom and in towards the beach.
Once out of the current, the big female Brookie soon comes to hand.
After countless days spread over a couple seasons,
enduring rain, wind, sleet, snow, attack beavers and
ornery Wardens, Renée has finally her first sea run
Brook Trout. A far cry from the childhood legends of
"onion rows" of Brook Trout, one is enough and a well
merited fish at hand.
Renée has since become quite proficient at catching
sea run Brookies. Somehow, the First is often the
most memorable though. ~ Christopher Chin - Bay Comeau, 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