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