Our Man In Canada
April 16th, 2007

Casting Practice
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada

Spring has finally really sprung (even though Montreal got plus six inches of snow this past week). A true sign of this is that a patch of grass at the local park has appeared from underneath the burden of snow. Not a big patch of grass, but a long one. 10 feet wide and 120 feet long...enough to practice casting.

I strolled over to the park, an 8 ft 5 wt in hand with an old but serviceable DT line. A level leader of 10 lb test and a fluff of wool completed today's rig.

The sun is high and there is no wind. I unlimber my arm slowly and work short casts along the grassy strip. I practice laying the line down slightly curved and tucked up against the (snow) bank, just as I would to drop an upstream dry tight into the bend on a favourite run. As I work my casts farther and farther up the "run," I'm concentrating on the big trout which are sheltered in the gentle current.

The trout like to move out of the #3 pool and spend the day amongst the cobbles and boulders at the foot of the rapids. They seem to feel more secure here as the broken surface of the water must provide more protection from overhead avarian predators. I have also found that in flowing water, the trout are more prone to taking a fly than when they are schooling in large pools.

I have left these trout alone all day, concentrating more on the long distance casts off of the grass and across the #3 pool. The moment has come. The sun has moved behind and under the trees lining the shore. I move up the trail than pick my way back to the river's edge. I have to wade deep out into the run to clamber up onto some sunken boulders.

With the sinking sun, the air temperature drops swiftly in the early September evening and a thin mist forms over the rapids 100 yards upstream of me.

I strip out only about 10 yards of line. This will be close in work. I have to false cast out over the water to get the long leader to unfurl properly, then quarter in and up to lay down my #14 Red Tag. From my perch, I have a perfect angle to present the dry fly back towards the bank and the deep seam where the trout are hiding.

My first few casts get no reactions. I know I'm landing the fly 2-3 feet behind the trout. I strip out another ten feet of line and cast farther up the seam. The dead drifting fly looks perfect (in my mind's eye), half sunken in the film.

I more imagine than see the dark shadow detaching itself from the bottom. It rises urgently up and forward. The big buck lunges the last 18 inches and takes the fly in a perfect nose, dorsal fin, tail, display. Before he can turn, I set the hook and he darts left into the current. The slack line I have accumulated in my left hand gets fed through the guides and in ten seconds he is onto the reel.

Now I have a serious problem. I'm perched on a sunken boulder and can't get back to shore in a hurry. Even if I could, I can't wade around the trees on the shore in order to get back to the small beach.

There is nothing else to do but put pressure on the rod. I believe that the hook is properly set into the hinge of the trout's jaw. My little 3 wt will be hard pressed to pull this trout out of the current. Then, of his own accord, the trout moves out and across, slowly unspooling thirty feet of backing (I love the sound of these click 'n pawl reels). He is straight across from me now and I know I can lean into the rod without pulling out.

Fighting the pressure from the line the trout moves farther up stream and I know the battle will be soon done. I let off pressure for an instant and the trout turns in the current and sails back towards me. I frantically strip in line, not bothering to reel.

I will rarely fight a fish until he goes belly over. As the trout drifts back into his lair, I lean the rod tip ver to the right again and grab the line. Cork handle between my teeth, I hand line the trout back towards me. I follow the line down to the leader with my right hand. Left hand under the trout which is still in the water, I quickly back the fly out with a pair of haemostats.

I spool up a bit of line and go back to presenting my fly to the pod of trout in the seam. I have a old habit of leaning forward while I concentrate on my short casts (just as LadyFisher takes a small step forward with each cast). The small of my back is getting a bit tensed up so I stand up straight to rest a second.

Looking for Rises on the #3, Ste-Marguerite River - Quebec

I look around and realize I'm still on my grassy strip in the park. The neighbours are all out on their balconies watching. ~ 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/.

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