Our Man In Canada
May 21st, 2007

The Camp Fire
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada

For those of us who are lucky enough to have access to wilderness fishing, the camp fire is a tradition. What shore lunch would be complete without a bushel of Walleye fillets deep fried along side some skillet potatoes?

On Canadian rivers, a lone camp fire perched on a rocky point is a beacon to neighbouring anglers to paddle over for a cup of java; an opportunity to share some time, some stories and perhaps exchange some river reports. Morning coffee perked over an open fire just seems to smell and taste better.

A batch of Snags over an open fire

Unfortunately, as with most any privilege, there is a fair share of responsibility. In 1983, two European tourists were camping and fishing on Parrott Lake, South West of Houston in British Columbia. They had built a make shift smoker to cure some of their catch. A few moments of inattention and flames (according to witnesses) burst out of the small structure.

Long story short, the Swiss Fire eventually burned over 45,000 acres of forested lands and is still considered one BC's most serious wild fires. Fifty families were evacuated during the blaze. Some 800+ firefighters were implicated in the battle. Over 70 bulldozers, skidders and other various machines were trucked in and three camps were set up to house the personnel.

On a lighter side, an evacuated young couple was actually married in camp and helicoptered out for their honeymoon. A few moments of inattention.

Before heading out, check with the local authorities as to the fire danger rating. One can start at:
If you decide to build a camp fire, there are some very basic rules to follow:


    * choose your site carefully.

    * prepare your campfire by removing all leaves, twigs and other flammable material from the area.

    * use a designated fire pit or build a ring of rocks at least three metres from shrubs, structures and debris.

    * keep your fire under control and prevent it from sparking into surrounding bushes and tress.

    * never leave your campfire unattended

Further, in backwoods setting, if possible, use established fire pits where others have already (safely) built fires. Keep a water source at hand in case a wayward ember starts a spot fire.

To extinguish the fire, coals, rocks and bits of un-burnt wood should be cool to the touch. Yes, you WILL have to get your hands dirty to make sure you fire is truly out.

You can enjoy a camp fire in the outdoors. Just remember that the privilege has its share of responsibility. Wild fires are a terrifying event. Do you wish to be the cause of one?

The photo on the right is the Chibougamau fire in July 2005. Many thanks to our Southern cousins from Maine and New York who were dispatched up here to lend a hand. ~ Christopher Chin - St-Severin de Prouxville (Quebec)

Credits: Campfire photo from the Yukon Government web site: http://www.community.gov.yk.ca/firemanagement/cmp.php

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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