When reading Duncan Browns book recently, (Are Trout South African), I became aware of the depth of my prejudices. Duncan does a fine job of pointing out the nuances and peculiarities that we apply in deciding if something is indigenous or not, and it is a thought provoking read.
I go for Trout , with a capital T, (Alien) and definitely not bass (with a lower case B), ( also alien). I strongly dislike wattles and brambles (Alien), but love the sight of a stand of poplars (also alien). I don’t care much for scalies [AKA “yellowfish”] (indigenous), and I still think that the best snake is a dead one (alien or indigenous).
I am an ardent conservationist at heart, and possess some skins and furs of endangered beasts in my fly-tying kit.
I read the book. I thought deeply and thoroughly. I re-evaluated and re-considered.
And after due consideration I have decided that I am sticking with my prejudices. I like them you see. And I make no apology for them.
Where I grew up, bass lived in the dirty little weeded ponds with lots of frogs, and Trout lived in large expanses of cold crystal clear water, or fast flowing streams. Trout lived within sight of winter snow on grand rocky peaks, and bass lived within sight of hot windy sugarcane fields.
Bass spread wildly. I am unaware of Trout having spread to any water in my lifetime.
Bass and Carp fishermen held competitions at Midmar. Trout fishermen wore groovy jackets, and snuck off to exclusive locations in ones and twos with binoculars, bird-books and cameras.
The higher one goes in this country, generally, the less habitation you find, the less cultivation, less erosion. And if you seek out these things, you find that you have left behind warmer climes, thorn trees, silt laden water and yellowfish.
(I can hear the howls of indignation from the fly-fishermen who pursue Yellowfish in Sterkfontein, and in the clear streams of Lesotho!)
Poplar trees occur here and there in small clumps in the highlands and turn yellow in autumn. Wattle trees spread like crazy and choke Trout streams.
The Klipspringer in my cupboard was already dead when the mysterious bloke in the dark clothes and I met to make our exchange in a dimly lit alley.
I don’t for a minute believe that my obsession with Trout makes me better than anyone. I am just a bloke who is hooked on a particular pursuit.
And if you suggest I switch to the pursuit of other species, I might just suggest that you try switching your sexual orientation first. Get the picture? It just is not going to happen.
So sue me.
I am a Trout snob.