Our Man In Canada
December 8th, 2008

The Pressure Is On!
By Chris Chin

A few years ago, I was having coffee on the gallery of the #38, enjoying the show. An angler was drifting wets to some salmon on a postcard perfect June morning. As luck would have it, he quickly set into a nice 18-20 lb salmon!

Back then, we still kept salmon on occasion and it wasn't long before the angler called out that he'd like to keep it if he could get it to hand. I jogged back to the pickup to get a net, then scrambled huffing and puffing down the rocks to the river's edge.

I slide downstream twenty feet from the angler to figure out how we were going to do this. At the same time, a group arrived on the gallery to watch the show.

Of course, the usual encouragements and cheers started raining down. The poor angler, new to the river (and Salmo salar fishing) called back saying that he really had no idea what he was doing!

One of the local's replied:

"That's OK son, … you don't have the problem, … It's that fellow with the net who's got the real job now!"

How right he was! … You see, hooking a salmon on a down stream swing is actually child's play. Once the salmon decides that it wants the fly, it'll usually hook itself! The take and turn will often set the hook perfectly into the hinge. All the angler does is keep the line taught.

On a nice even run, the battle was long and drawn out. With no place to run down the salmon, the angler let him unspool 200 ft of backing on several occasions. Eventually, the salmon started to meander back towards us. Strategy time.

I have seen more salmon and big trout lost at the net than anywhere else. I have come to realize that it's because of the tendency of people to try and scoop up a big fish with the net like some Chalie Chaplin scenario!

News flash people …The fish is longer than the net is wide!

This means one thing, … If you try to scoop up a fish, when the head of the fish slides along the edge of the net frame, the first thing that'll get caught up is the FLY! Then … more than half of the time, the fish'll wriggle and squirm and NOT fall into the net! Gone!

So how does one get a 39 inch fish into a net that's only 30 inches across?

It's actually much more simple than one would guess.

Once the salmon was wearing down a bit, it was holding just three feet off of the bank. I positioned myself fifteen feet downstream from the angler. I had him lean the rod towards me (and towards the bank). The salmon was tight into the bank. I submerged the net half way into the water three feet BEHIND the salmon. On my command, the angler simply bows the rod, unloading the line.

The salmon, feeling the pressure come off, turned on a dime and headed down stream … right into the net.

This is one of the most spectacular moments in salmon fishing. While the fish is in the water, it always LOOKS smaller and shorter than in reality. As the mass of liquid silver slides headlong into the net, one gets a real appreciation of just how LONG the fish really is.

Once at least ¾ of the fish is into the net, I grab the FRAME of the net and lift. Voila…Fish in hand!

The gallery erupted into applause. Back on the trail, … one of the locals mentioned that he had never seen such a smooth netting of a big salmon. I replied,… "It just takes patience and Think like a Salmon".

We use the same tactic to net big 18-20 inch trout with small hand nets. (if we intend to keep the fish) ~ 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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