Our Man In Canada
February 26th, 2007

Wading Staffs and Wading Safety
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada

On our home waters, probably the most well known pool is Glass Pool.

Right on the regional highway, the Head Warden has his camp there and an observatory perched out over the pool. Tourists like to stop there on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes intimidating, the Gallery on Glass Pool

Newcomers also often start there because they can see the salmon in the pool and over in the slick.

Unfortunately, the slick is also a rock strewn garden of cobles and boulders. When I start pointing out salmon and casting positions, quite a few visitors turn pasty pale in the face and start wondering how they are ever going to wade out into the current.

Michel on Glass Pool. We can appreciate the unstable footing of the river bed.

Fortunately, hanging off of a nail on the porch of the warden's cabin is an old broom stick with a length of rope attached to it. This improvised wading staff is usually all it takes to set up a wobbly legged angler solidly in the current. I'll also usually wade out with a client, standing off upstream to break the current.

A wading staff is a handy item for most of us to have tucked into our bag of tricks.

I have several, mostly to lend to friends and visitors. Since I know the river pretty well here, I use one only on occasion when I'm not quite sure how deep the water is getting. If I need it to steady myself against a raging current, I'll stop and back out.

There are some really neat folding staffs on the market. Most of mine are hand made from necessity. I'll usually cut a breast height length of a Maple sapling, debark it and wrap a length of rope to make a handle. A bungee cord and a carabineer to attach it to your wading belt and Voilà!

Wading belts: A belt not only helps keep your waders in place, it'll help support your back. More importantly though, a belt keeps water from filling up you waders if you do happen to take a spill and it gives your companions something to GRAB as you're drifting by!

One last note in my little rant about safety is about water levels. (On tail waters, this is an entirely different story.)

My home waters spill out of the Valin mountains. There are neither lakes nor reservoirs in the head waters. I believe the river actually takes its origins from a spring. This all means that when it rains in the mountains, the river will come up fast. Really fast.

In 4-6 hours, the river can creep up by several inches. Not a real problem, except that the flow rate also increases. If one had just barely made it across the #8 to fish in the back eddy, coming back will be rendered impossible.

If I have to wade across the river or around a sunken point, I'll always put a stick in the sand on the beach so I can gauge how fast the river is coming up (canoe camper's trick).

The rapids off of the #3 Zone 5B

Sometimes we just must wade deep or into the current. Try to remember that you may be stomping around on valuable habitat or worse...on fish!

If you must venture into difficult wading, try using a staff. They are not just for "the Old Guys." ~ Christopher Chin - Bay Comeau, 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/.

Our Man In Canada Archives

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice