I have the opportunity to meet anglers from all over
the world. I guess it's one of the real perks when your
home water is a world class salmon river. The variety
of people who I meet always astounds me. There are
the usual stereotypical anglers, lone alpha males gunning
for Atlantic salmon; seasoned and experienced, they really
know their stuff and really only need a Guide to put them
over fish. There are also those anglers who are new to fly
fishing all together and would like pointers on casting,
presentation, line control, bug science,
you name it.
By Chris Chin
Another group of anglers who call up are a surprising
bunch. These are the beginner to intermediate anglers
who would like to give salmon fishing a try, but really
don't know where to start. Whenever folks contact me,
I like to give out as much information as possible. This
helps them to better plan a trip as well as to get them
prepared properly. Lots of questions and answers get
sent back and forth:
Then the usual question comes up River etiquette.
If you Google "Fishing River Etiquette", unfortunately, many
information sources are a bit vague. They say to be courteous
and not crowd other anglers if possible. Well, what to do if
there are 3-4 or more anglers on the same run?
- When is prime time?
- Rod weights, lengths and actions;
- Dry or wets, types of flies, sizes;
- Lodging, camping, other activities;
- Rod fees, licenses and guide fees;
River etiquette on an Atlantic salmon river is exactly
the same as on any other river (in North America). So
here you go:
Rotation rules: (or Everyone gets their chance)
On longer runs, we will often fish 2 or more anglers at
the same time. First off, decide if the run is being fished
with dries or wets. If you come up to a run where anglers
are already fishing, this'll be obvious.
In line rotation:
When fishing wets for Atlantic's, one simply casts down
and across and lets the fly swing back towards the near
bank. After each cast, you side step a foot or so down
stream then repeat. This is the classical presentation for
Atlantic's and has led to the (unfounded) myth of casting
10,000 time to get that first salmon.
After the first angler has moved far enough downstream,
you can simply start upstream of him and do the same
down stream casts. Question: How far downstream should
they be before starting to cast? Easy one, you don't want
your fly swinging down in front of them! So if you're going
to be casting 65 feet of line and leader, simply wait until the
first person is at least 65-70 feet downstream before starting
Here's where it gets a tad complicated. If you get a rise
to your fly, you can wait a moment to cast AGAIN this
presentation. Usually a few minutes in case you want to
change the fly, trot or run your swing. After 2-3 more
cast, move on.
Rotating along a run on dries is exactly the same except
that you'll all be working your way upstream instead of down.
Rotating from a fixed position:
On many occasion, there is only one place to cast from
to get to salmon. On these lies, we usually cast for 20
to 30 minutes then leave the spot to the next angler. Hint:
If you've been casting for 45 minutes alone and another
angler comes up, you really should give him the spot
shortly and not after ANOTHER 30 minutes of casting.
The 20-30 minute rule gives one plenty of time to try 2
flies properly or 3 flies in a hurry.
IMHO, these occasions are some of the very best
opportunities to meet anglers, share some tales and
coffee. Also, it is from these vantage points that we
learn a whole lot about salmon fishing. This is where
we spend literally hours and hours watching salmon
and how they react (or not) to anglers and presentations.
Some DO NOT DO's in terms of stream etiquette.
1. NEVER, and I mean NEVER move downstream of
an angler who has already started working his way downstream.
You'll be jumping him. If you really wanted to fish there before
them, well, you should have woken up earlier Sport. Jumping a
run is an excellent way to get cussed out. I'll probably just
accidentally snag your line, apologize, and retrieve your fly
for you (after giving it a nice slathering of bug dope).
Lastly, stream side etiquette isn't just for visiting anglers.
When you are on your home waters, you are also a
"spokesperson" for your town or county or river association
or country. Respect is hard won and easily lost, so make
sure that visitors and newcomers can learn from your actions. ~ Christopher Chin, Three Rivers Quebec.
2. Once an angler signals to you that he would like to move
in upstream of you and work the run as you do, you should
move downstream at a constant pace. This means one cast,
short downstream step, one cast etc.
3. The usual etiquette for any outdoor activity also holds true
on a river. If you can pack it in, you can pack it out. On MANY
occasions, I have even taken the time to pickup trash, bundle it
up and MAIL it back to the anglers who left it there (because
on our home waters, I can always get a copy of the registration
4. A little hint too: Advice is only good advice if it is wanted.
Before "offering" wisdom to someone, simply ask first if it's
wanted. It is surprising to find out how many folks really DON'T
want advice from strangers.
5. If you don't know or aren't sure Ask a local. It is quite
amazing to see how much the locals really will go out of their
way to help a visitor or newcomer just "fit right in".
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 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,
website. You can email Chis at: Flyfishing.email@example.com.
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