It is a simple fact that hardly anyone can afford to have a dedicated fishing car of any quality nowadays. There are those who have written about their fishing cars, but they were all somehow old “jalopies” (as we call them in South Africa), that made for a good story but were not reliable enough to provide a fishing trip of any comfort. So the reality is that the vehicle one goes to work in every day, has to double as your fishing car.
With this in mind, any self respecting fly-fisherman, will of course choose his vehicle without any consideration to its normal everyday use. He will buy it for his outdoor pursuits alone, and live with its idiosyncrasies on the city streets. I applaud that.
I too have chosen my mode of transport over the last two decades, with regard only for my fishing.
I have in fact done this only twice, because rightly or wrongly, I like to drive a vehicle until it can drive no more. I started with “Rufus” some 17 years ago. Rufus was a maroon coloured Ford ranger, 2 wheel drive 2,5 diesel double cab. What a “bakkie” that was! I christened it with a fishing trip to the Rhodes area within weeks of having bought it, thus consummating it’s role as a fishing vehicle.
Once was on the Umgeni, with my then very young son. The track was very muddy and churned up from tractors having gone back and forth over it with loads of pig slurry for the fields. The plan of attack involved high speed, on the grounds that momentum would make up for the fact that this was not a 4 X 4. It worked well, and was all quite exciting, until we ramped onto the underbelly. It was a long walk with a toddler on my shoulders, ended with that always embarrassing request for a tractor.
There was the time PD and I put my then 12 year old son at the wheel for a driving lesson on the way back from a day’s fishing in the Karkloof. It seemed like a good idea at the time. With the enthusiasm of youth at play, our speed seemed to escalate uncontrolled, the more serpentine the gravel road grew, until PD, who was in the passenger seat, ended it all with a brisk pull on the hand-break, bringing us to a stop in the middle of the road, facing the wrong way. A quick swig from the hip flask, change of driver, and we were on our way again. No harm done.
Then there was the time we spied a shortcut on Google Earth, that could get us from a particular piece of water to another in a flash, and avoiding a very long round trip. The farmer said the track was good for a tractor. That sealed it. We were off in Rufus without hesitation. The track was fine (for a tractor). It did get a little tricky though when the ruts deepened and the “middle mannetjie” suddenly exceeded the clearance, and we found ourselves with most of the four wheels just off the ground, and the belly settled uselessly on the bare earth. We had beached again.
Rufus performed wonderfully, our exploits in him getting a little bolder as he aged, since there seemed to be less to lose. Then a few years ago we warped the head, and it seemed time to make an about turn in philosophy and go with a brand spanking new one.
To turn something over in isiZulu is “pendula”. The Latin name of a silver birch tree (a favourite of mine) contains the word “pendula” too. So the shiny new silver 4 X 4 was christened accordingly.
In keeping with tradition we whisked him off to Rhodes 2 weeks after acquiring him. He made it there with mechanical ease, but in an aesthetically mangled state after we ran into a hail storm from hell just outside Bloem. It smashed the windscreen and inflicted R35,000 worth of damage. Not to mention the traumatised state of the occupants who endured 20 minutes of punishing cacophony. Its amazing what panel-beaters and a holiday in the hills can do though.
Pendula has been equipped with a very natty loading system, designed by yours truly, that allows us to load and transport Waelcyrge single handedly.
Already the fishing memories are being made, and the benefits of 4 X 4 are evident. In the last three years we have traversed farm tracks covered in heavy snow, driven out of aardvark holes, crossed rivers where we could see the bow-wave over the bonnet, and generally had a lot of fun. The glove compartment and seat cover pockets are loaded with paraphernalia of the outdoor type. Torches, bird books, extra Trout flies etc. And we have now reached the stage where there are enough little bumps and scrapes, that we can use it properly.
Like the axe damage in the tailgate. That will have to be another story…….