Our Man In Canada
June 2nd, 2008

Strategy and Tactics

By Christopher Chin

I changed day jobs last week. The transition for me was pretty easy, even though it was a major shift in thinking. I'm not working in operations any more. My new job is pretty well involved in strategy and tactics. While doing the rounds to pre-wire my place in the new position, I was getting some pretty weird looks from the executive committee because I kept using fly fishing analogies to explain my vision for the future.

(Now this is just my opinion, so if you don't think it makes any sense, drop me a line)

Over the past while, I've run into some very proficient fly casters. Tournament casters, precision casters, highly technical casters and some real magicians who are able to reach, mend and just plain lay down a presentation as if they were spiriting the fly out onto the pool and placing it as if on Angel's breath.

In my humble opinion, the cast and presentation is the logical conclusion of a well thought out strategy. Sure, practicing and honing our casting and fishing skills is an essential and pleasant part of our passion, but honestly, it is a heck of a lot of fun now and again to be connected to 20-25 lbs of quick silver.

After a morning of ironing out technique and casting skills, we re-evaluated our strategy, changed zones and promptly connected Andre to a first ever Atlantic.

Salmo salar has a bad reputation for being the fish of 10,000 casts (and we don't count the false casts). On many occasions, this is simply not true. Why do you think that so many anglers and guides alike wake up hours before dawn, just to be on the river at the crack of dawn?

Well, (again, IMHO) it isn't because the salmon are necessarily more prone to taking a fly in the early light. Often, it's a case of "startling" a salmon into reacting to the fly. To do this, you only get one shot! This also goes for the sea run Brook Trout that we are blessed with up here.

So take your time. The day will be plenty long and plenty tiring without wildly double hauling over a pod of fish that aren't even oriented to react to your fly.

We like to approach the morning at a slow and measured pace:
  • Where would the salmon be holding given the day's water levels and temperatures?
  • What type of fishing are WE looking for (dries, wets, streamers etc)
  • Are we tired or anxious? Do we really want to double haul #2 dries all morning long into a breeze? Would we rather swing wets on a short tight line off of the bar?

Once we get some of this strategy set out, we start looking for possible targets. If we are on wets, we might just look for a nice run to explore on a methodical down stream swing. If we really want to go to dries, we'll usually try to actually spot salmon and trout which really appear to be interested in taking a fly.

If it's deeply overcast, long stripping mice might be a nice option.

Then again, we might just decide to stick to dries, settle down with a nice breakfast and wait for the sky to lift.

Renee has decided that she doesn't want to go hauling off to the bay. The "V" sitting between the point and the run is a much more pleasant presentation to lie down.

On occasion, a good tactic is to rest the pool as well as the angler!

As the sun starts swinging into the river valley, some of the very best quality time we can have together is while we're sipping a steaming cup of coffee on the gallery over looking a pool or lounging around on a beach. We also take the time to talk strategy and possible tactics. ~ Christopher Chin – St-Severin 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, René. "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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