Our Man In Canada
August 6th, 2007

Fishing alone – Maybe you're missing something
By Chris Chin, Proulxville Quebec, Canada

The solitude of fishing alone can be a wonderful experience. On the other hand, on occasion, a fishing partner can lend a real helping hand. While river fishing, especially for Atlantics, a fishing partner can help out by setting up in a spot to over look the run or pool. Why?

Well, first off, he or she can help to spot fish. Once they are sighted, your partner can also confirm that the fish are still there and not spooked away by your first cast.

In my honest opinion, the most valuable aspect of a partner is when the salmon move to, but don't take the fly. Quite often, in their refusal, the fish will turn and give us a "flash." For an unsuspecting angler, or just one who isn't paying proper attention to the drift, the spotter can feed back some important details.

A couple weeks ago I was lunching on a favourite pool when I ran into Yvon who was guiding a visitor, Stéphane Gosselin(1). We chatted for a bit and then I sent them across the pool. Earlier that morning, my group and I had run into some salmon holding several yards farther upstream than the "usual spot." With a grin, Yvon shepherded Stéphane out onto the point while I set up on the gallery to watch the show.

Instead of setting off of his partner's shoulder, Yvon waded upstream then forded the river. Moving gingerly downstream through the underbrush, he was able to take up an observation post right next to the salmon (all the while making sure as to not create a silhouette and spook the salmon).

As I had already spotted the salmon earlier in the day, Yvon sort of cheated and set up Stéphane directly onto the salmon on a downstream wet (instead of carefully working the slick from the top). On the second swing, I saw a flash under the fly as did Yvon. From his vantage point, Stéphane saw nothing. Breaking all the rules, Yvon directed Stéphane downstream a couple yards just in case there were more salmon holding in the current.

After a few fruitless swings, Yvon calls over to me and we agree that a change in tactics is in order. The water is already 68 degrees and the sun is high. There is no wind and Stéphane seems to be pretty able with a fly rod. Anyway, we'll only have him cast about 25 feet with the big bushy dry fly.

Stéphane starts a dead drift of a big #4 dry. From Yvon's vantage point, he can see that the fly just isn't quite dropping "in the Zone." We like to land a dry just on the edge of the salmon's cone of vision. The salmon just aren't reacting to the fly.

A couple more casts; a few words to get the communication sorted out between spotter and angler then Stéphane drops the dry right where we want. An urgent boil but no take! I'm not sure who was more surprised, Stéphane or the cameraman who scrabbled to get his camera.

We urge Stéphane to wait about 1 minute. On the next cast the fly is instantly submerged in a boil. The interminable 2-3 second wait. The hook set and the salmon is soon pulling out line. The salmon decides on her own accord to circle back through the pool as Stéphane furiously recuperates line. After several minutes of light play and 2-3 spectacular leaps, Stéphane starts to "walk the salmon" back up towards the gravel bar.

One more leap from the 10-12 lb salmon and the fly pulls out.

A sportsman, Stéphane is truly content with the action and leaves the slick so that others can come in later in the day.


Chris spotting for clients on Glass Pool - By setting up where the fly is drifting, a fishing partner can often see things the angler cannot.

If Yvon hadn't have been spotting for our friend this day, it is unlikely that Stéphane would have seen the initial flash for his wet fly. As the salmon were holding in a peculiar lie he wouldn't have had the reflex to try a dry so far upstream either.

On some occasions, while fishing alone, we never know what we're missing. ~ Christopher Chin – Proulxville Quebec

(1) Stéphane Gosselin is well known in Quebec for the French language fishing show which he hosts every Saturday morning.

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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