Our Man In Canada
August 25th, 2008

Coming Home
By Chris Chin

I have always loved and will always cherish the drive out to the river. Granted, the drive is much longer now that I'm based in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. Still the five hour drive is not stressful and helps me to unwind from the week's events (or in the case the past 9 months). It is strange though to make my way up the winding road which follows the river.

I decide to run up past the camp site and see if Romain Tremblay has hooked up with the clients who were looking to book a Guide for the weekend. It is getting close to six in the evening so I head right to the #43. Sure enough, his pickup is nosed in to the pullout. Another SUV is parked near by. I walk the 300 yards down to the pool and meet up with the group on the beach.

Gentleman that he is, Romain offers his condolences along with a firm and sincere hand shake. My Renee had passed away two weeks earlier after a short but valiant battle with cancer. I have come up this weekend to bring her home and to retire her rod.

We chat a while then move up to explore a few more pools. I'm signed if only for the next day so I just tag along to learn some pointers from Romain (who has been fishing this river since the early '80's.)

Back down to camp to settle in. I invite Romain to share the prospector's tent with me. Deep down, I am grateful that he accepts, not really wanting to be there alone after having spent the past seven seasons there with my Love. Wake-up for his clients is at 04h30, so we turn in early.

Bright and early the next morning, I find that one the Romain's 4 clients is laid up with a bad back. We decide to split up the group. The duo of beginners leave with Romain to explore some likely runs and I take Jean with me up into the #4 zone.

We pull into the far side of Glass Pool and string up to explore the #48. If I can connect to the salmon holding there, I'll retire Renee's rod (see - Happy New Year).

I'm not really his Guide, but I send Jean up to the head of the pool to explore for salmon. I'll content myself to the trout on the lower edge of the pool. I have tendonitis in my stripping arm and a beat up rotator cuff in my right shoulder, but it is still awfully nice to be casting a fly.

The trout seem uncooperative this morning. Just when we are wondering if there really are any fish in the pool, a magnificent specimen of Salmo salar leaps straight out of the morning stillness. (exactly where I had though she would be hiding). I can tell from the dark coloration of her flanks and the type of leap, this big hen will not be taking a fly this morning. I get this weird feeling she was just popping up to say Hi and see who was out and about at such an hour.

We head down to Glass Pool. I always like to start there around about 08h00 just as the sun starts to illuminate the pool. There had been some anglers there at 5 o'clock, but with the morning fog and cool water, there was not much to do there at such an early hour.

I set Jean up on the run and I move down to set up on dries. There is something stirring up the surface and rolling in the current occasionally. Now that's a much more likely prospect than the big hen which gave us the air show farther upstream.

I set up a big Bomber into the current and let it dead drift. A short cast. Only about 40 feet. The coils of stripped line are in a bit of a mess in my left hand. As I look down to try to undo the coils, a subtle "slurp" draws my attention back to my fly (which is now GONE!).

I throw an upstream mend so as to not pull the fly free, left hand goes left and the rod hand goes up. A rainbow of mist is ripped off of the surface as the line goes taught and the weight of the fish settles immediately deep into the butt of the rod.

I only have a 6 lb tippet and I think that it's a salmon, so I let it run (the loose coils miraculously stream through my left hand without tangling). The fish dives straight down deep into the current and soon has 10 feet of backing out of the guides. It turns slightly right, touches the edge of the back eddy and stops. Then I feel the head shakes. It's a TROUT!

Even on an 8 wt salmon rod, the trout is a beast to lift. I lean back on the rod straight to vertical. It won't budge. I decide to lean the rod right (farther towards the back eddy) and walk it back with me towards the gravel bar. Funny how one can't muscle a big fish upstream, but one can simply walk and they come slowly along).

It comes up to the surface and I see it roll. It's a female. Well, that settles one question. If she's not terribly badly hooked, she's going back. Now that I know she'll probably be released, I hurry a bit more. I walk her even farther upstream to get her out of the current.

A few minutes more and she is at hand. A quick photo from Jean and she's back into the pool.

A nice female sea run Brookie – Photo Jean Turcot.

We explore a few more pools together then head back to the camp for lunch.

After a short rest and a snack, I took Renee's ashes down into the #24. This is the pool where we used to always take our morning coffee.

I clambered down the steep trail into the pool. This is the same place where she first really seriously fished for salmon.

Renee – Sweeping for monsters – Pool #24 August 2004

Her ashes gently mingled with the current and washed away towards yonder pools and runs. This is what Renee had always wanted.

Now she's Home – Renee Jeanne Cote 1955 – 2008

I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank all of you who have offered your prayers, kind words and moral support during these past 9 months. Such a fine community of human beings is a rare thing today. The e-mails, phone calls and postings that we received were a true inspiration to Renee and she was always very touched. Thank you. ~ Christopher Chin, Three Rivers 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 44 years old as of this writing. He is of Chinese origin although his parents were born and raised in Jamaica.

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christopher's website. You can email Chis at: Flyfishing.christopher@gmail.com.

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