Our Man In Canada
February 2nd, 2009

By Chris Chin

Here in Quebec, fly fishing is still a bit on the fringe compared to spin casting. That's too bad. I mean, fishing is a BIG activity here.

If we could convince just a small portion of spin casters to convert over to fly fishing … the sport would just sky rocket!

In my never ending quest to initiate folks to the sport, the same question often comes up: "What is the #1 part about fly fishing which thrills me the most?"

Oh, tough one…could it be the simple act of casting? Or maybe it's the preparation to visit far off lands? The peace and quiet or the spectacular beauty ? (As Betty says – Trout don't live in ugly places!)

If I had to choose one thing, I guess it would be the anticipation! The anticipation between the moment that the fly disappears from the surface of the water and the moment that I can actually feel the weight of the fish and know that it is hooked.

Fishing dries to Atlantic salmon is a tad different than for trout. It would take too long to explain the mechanics of how the two differ in the way they take the fly. None the less, Atlantics usually don't seem to take a dry fly with the same angle of attack as trout.

This means, if you strike the instant you see the take, you'll often pull the fly right away from the salmon. A truly difficult reflex to overcome for anyone who has fished and even worse for experienced trout fly fishers! When I have visitors up for a very first experience, they are often intimidated by the thought of having to WAIT a few seconds BEFORE striking. This only holds true for dry flies; when fishing wets on a downstream swing, the salmon will hook itself quite nicely.

Actually, looking back over my journal to get an idea for this article, my mind is just whirling thinking back to some memorable dry fly takes over the years!

My favourite is on the #48 here on my home waters, the Ste-Marguerite River in Central Quebec. A long open and slow moving pool, it is a holding pool for sea run trout, as well as adult and juvenile salmon. The trout like to hold on the far side under the big spruce; the Grisles hold at the tail out. The adults hold in 4 different places: mid stream current, the tail out and a small spot up and across. The fourth spot they hold is straight upstream from the pool almost 100 feet up!

View from the far side– The #48 opens up into an immense pool

Salmon holding high in the column on the #48

The most exciting aspect of casting to this fourth lie is that we try for it at the very end of the day. The sun sets directly over the river there and we cast into the setting sun. A quality pair of polarized glasses is a must!

I set up to cast to the pod of salmon holding on a late July day. The water level had been dropping all week and I could finally wade out far enough to be able to cast back upstream to the salmon we had found there.

The evening is a postcard perfect ending to a long day chasing salmon and trout. The river is a field of liquid light and I can barely see my fly as it lands 90 feet upstream. I'm casting almost straight upstream ‚ only about 6 feet over to the right.

There are over 10 salmon holding there and I had noticed earlier that at least 4 or 5 of them were holding high in the water column. My first casts are short and I'm working hard at remembering everything Deanna (LF) told me so that I can squeeze a few more feet out of my cast.

THERE! The stars align! The rod loads an 1/10th of an ounce more and I know the line will shoot the last 5 feet. I drop the fly over 2-3 more feet and it starts the drift right up from the pod. It only drifts for about 3 seconds‚ the disappears in a small and subtle boil!

Now classic Atlantic salmon doctrine says we are supposed to wait 3 seconds, or you can say out loud "God Save The Queen" ‚Me, in the time I say to myself "Holy crap, it took the fly!!!" it's time to set the hook.

Then the thrill!

I lift the rod tip and strike with my stripping hand. The line comes taught then is ripped off of the water's surface. In the setting sun, the line drops a rainbow of mist and the weight of the salmon settles deep in to the butt of the rod. The salmon pulls straight upstream and out too. The 3-4 feet of loose line slides cleanly out the guides. The water is over 62 degrees so this will be done quickly. I don't let her pull out much more line and she only gets into about 10 feet of backing.

In a quick ten minute fight, I never let her get downstream into the current. I pull hard to get her to come across to me. Within 20 minutes, she is at my feet and the barbless #4 bomber easily slides out. In a flash she's gone!

I love dry flies! I truly believe that it is the thrill of the anticipation when fishing dries to salmon that really hooked me!

Boris showing us the patience born of 25 years of experience!

…and the reward!

How do You get your thrills? ~ 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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