Our Man In Canada
June 11th, 2007

Morning Time - Don't Miss It
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada

I guess I've been a morning person for quite some time. Even at the office, I'm usually the first to arrive (and the last to leave, but that's another story).

I'm not sure what the allure of the early morning holds for me. Is it the start of the new day; the thrill of searching out salmon which have arrived during the night or just the quality of the light streaming into the river valley.

Whatever the reason, it is a magical part of the day.

I left home well before dawn and drove the 40 miles to the turn off. All alone this September morning I wanted to get in a last day on the upper reaches before the season closed. A light rain was sprinkling down, but in the predawn light, it was difficult to say if it was rain or just the morning mist.

I pulled into the grassy lot next to the Warden's cabin and started stringing up by flashlight. I kept the noise to a minimum, not wanting to wake up Martin, the Warden who was keeping camp this week. I'd be coming back to the truck for breakfast in an hour or two, so gear this morning is simple fair: a spool of tippet material, rod, a box of dries and my hat.

It takes five minutes to walk the trail back down the river to the #3 pool and by flashlight the going is slow on the dew covered trail. Stopping every few steps, I listen for the telltale slurp of a rise out on the water.

Morning mist on the #3 pool – Ste Marguerite River (Saguenay - Quebec)
When I arrive at the #3 I allow myself the luxury of climbing out and taking a seat on the big rock which reaches into the pool. The sun will be coming up from the far side and my silhouette will not be outlined in the back ground clutter of the forest this side of the river. Even in the dim light I can see pods and pods of trout high in the water column.

The current is slow and the water is extremely low, so I add on another five feet of tippet and then a #16 Red Tag.

As I wait for the sun to rise I can hear Martin starting to clank around camp preparing the wood stove. The early morning air is laden with humidity and the mountain breeze is drifting down the valley. Sounds carry a long way in the early morning.

As I start to get to my feet, a Blue Heron lumbers by. He is heading upstream to the shallows where unsuspecting trout may be unwarily coming to the surface. Just some of the sights and sounds of the early morning on a river.

I spot some movement half way out in the pool. A pod of trout is starting to stir. A few awkward false casts (it is still only 06h15) and my fly lands fifteen upstream from the pod.

As my fly dead drifts by the pod I see a few head shakes, but no real movement. I realize that the water is much deeper than I had estimated. Even though my fly "appears" to drift over the trout, I know it is actually a good five to eight feet short of them.

I let the cast drift out and then strip out another ten feet of line. Another cast. The drift is nice, but I forget to mend upstream a bit. Just as the fly gets into the thick of things, a big buck from the middle of the pod bolts upwards. My heart is going into over drive.

A mere second before the trout strikes the line goes taught in the current and the fly drags. The trout refuses in a flash of white underbelly. I again let the cast drift out and strip out yet another five feet of line. (Rookie error on my part in the first place).

I wait two minutes before casting. This time I cast a tad farther upstream and mend upstream right away. The fly drifts once again down the same lane. As the fly gets into the pod, there is no movement from the trout and I'm thinking that I've spooked them.

I let the fly drift and finally as it drifts over the last two trout which are strung out behind the school, one of them peels up, takes and dives for cover.

As the fly had almost completed its drift, the line was almost straight out and he is instantly on the reel. A few feet of line pull off of the reel as he starts zigging and zagging about the pool. A chain reaction of movement ensues as other trout (and one big salmon) lunge out of his way. On my little 3 wt rod, I have to really lean into it to pull the trout in from the far side.

A few minutes into the fight and I realize I really can't pull any harder on the rod. The trout is well and seriously dug in on the bottom just off of the far side bank. As the water is really quite warm I don't want to exhaust the trout, so I pull one last time. I figure the fly will pull out, the trout will come off of the bottom, or the tippet will break.

The tippet broke.

As I spool up to head in for breakfast and to change leaders, I can see the trout still shaking his head. He will soon dislodge the barbless fly.

Ambling back into camp, I meet the Warden who is walking up the road.

"Mornin' to you Martin" I hail.

"Morning. Anyone else up the road?" he asks.

"Nope, pretty quiet morning. C'mon, I'll fix you a real coffee."

It is only seven o'clock in the morning and I already have a souvenir for a life time. Don't miss out on yours.

Dave – Roaring to go on the mist covered Caney Fork
(Photo Donna Hudnall)
~ 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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