I was very definitely assembled somewhere in Europe, or perhaps North America, but either way, my design was intended for climes closer to the arctic circle than the equator. I do not suffer heat gladly. Neither do the trout of course, and I see this as a significant parallel far beyond mere co-incidence.
This neat alignment; this poetic symphony of affairs, is shattered every summer however, here in my South African home town.
Pietermaritzburg, and even the village of Hilton, can turn into a cauldron of thick hot air, day after day at the height of summer. Right now it is February and my general demeanour is at its least palatable point in the annual cycle.
A hot day on the Bushmans
Today I was unable to escape the heat. It invaded our home, and occupied every nook and cranny of the house. It was an unwelcome visitor to say the least. Right now I am trying to extract this alien with one of those big noisy oscillating fans. Such heavy noisy machinery is only partially effective, at blowing the heat out into the night sky, but what else can I do?
Trout of course dislike such intense heat, and fishing for them on really hot days is not usually very successful. Well not in theory anyway.
There is however a paradox associated with the height of summer, and that is the fact that there is no better time for massive hatches of insects on the water. The most spectacular long warm evenings, complete with rising trout, are the very preserve of summer. It is those long summer evenings with shadows lengthening across the water, and midges getting stuck under your collar while the trout go positively mad, that remain stuck in the memory of most of us fly-fishermen.
Massive hatches of insects
And of course to be honest, there is a log book full of successful summer days stashed in my memory. Days beneath the harsh African sun, when it all came together anyway.
And so it is that I have to keep reminding myself that summer is a time for trout. That the hot sticky days with grass seeds stuck in your socks and sweat trickling down your back, are also trout times. They are challenging days, and not for the faint hearted, but they are trout fishing days nonetheless. They are not like my lovely April days with their cool mornings, and crisp trout water, but they are still fishing days. In fact they are more trout fishing days than their distant cousins from northern Europe, the iced up days! Just reading about and understanding the severity of the winters faced by my fellow anglers to the north, makes me appreciate our summers. At least we can go fishing, while those from the very home of old speckled belly himself, Mr Salmo Trutta, remain wrapped up indoors.
With this in mind I am resolved to head out next week end, with plenty of sunblock, a water-bottle, and a wide brimmed hat to do battle with my beloved fish. I will step over the puff adders, as I push through the rank riverside grass, and I will wipe my beaded brow, and I will persevere. I will keep my mouth shut and I will speak silently and sternly with ‘Mr grumpy’, and I will go forth with something of a spring in my step if at all possible.
But I will not stop longing for those cool sunny April days!
A lovely autumn day on the Sterkspruit