Waters & words

Archive for November, 2013

Boston, Bass and Big Bangs

In recent weeks, fate has taken me into the Boston area on several occasions to spend time there with a farmer ,a  forester and a faucet.

On Saturday, I dragged myself from an afternoon snooze. Between that and a looming business trip commencing Sunday morning, I knew I had to fit in an errand to Boston to shut off a valve on a dam. As we wound down the hill between the trees in the gathering gloom of the front that was curling in from the South, I spotted the dam in the distance. Even from there I began to beam at our success in dropping the level. We could see the baseline of the reeds, contrasting with the green tops, and indicating that the water was well down. On arrival at the shelter I could see the poles, which a week and a half earlier had barely protruded from the water, and which now stood high and dry.

IMG_5672 IMG_5689


What’s with this crazy weather!

I was in a doctors waiting room the other day, when one of the professionals emerged from her office and remarked to the receptionist : “Did you know, that in the old days we used to have storms on summer afternoons, and the sun would come out again afterwards! ”.

It is not politically correct to call this stupidity. So someone please help me with a politically correct term that is vastly more disdainful!

Given that weather is what people use to pad inane conversations, there is a lot of babble out there that serves only to heat the air unnecessarily.  But as a fly-fisherman, and a fisher of rivers, weather is not just wadding material. It is important stuff! And important stuff is best spoken about with facts, figures, and authority!

I have been keeping track of rainfall, temperatures, arrival of the cuckoos, first frosts, and the like for a couple of years. My record is by no means long enough to start drawing conclusions about global warming. Many people draw conclusions about global warming from a single afternoon’s temperature, but let’s not fall into that trap.

What I have had a bash at, is graphing rainfall by the season. We all know that in mid summer (over Christmas for us here in the Southern Hemisphere), it pours with rain, and the rivers run in spate. That is almost a given. But I got to wondering if we couldn’t draw some more useful info, that goes a bit deeper than annual rainfall. I have tried to plot the spring, and the autumn rainfall and temperatures. In that way I can look at dry springs, wet autumns, cold Septembers and the like, to start looking at their significance in terms of my fishing.

Rainfall record of the last 6 years as read at Hilton, and split into Autumn and Spring rainfall:rainfall graphs 2013



“Despite the threnodies of a few recidivist Halfordians, the fly-fishing tradition is a progressive, generous and inclusive one, and it pays to be mindful that not everyone will be interested in the stipulations of your personal code”  From “Trout Hunting” by Bob Wyatt

There are many of us fly-fishermen who are quirky, moody, and solitary. We have built up some illogical notions over the years, and we only stick with other fly-fishermen who happen, against all odds,  to “get us”. So we go for years, wearing older and older clothes, fishing with the same blokes, and probably the same tackle.  We take on routines and peculiar rituals, and have used the same knot to tie our flies since Pa fell off the bus. And we talk about the old days, and regard new entrants to the sport with a mild dose of suspicion.

We forget that once we were the ‘newbies’, with shoddy tackle, and no clue. We were once the pimply students, hanging on every word of some doyen, who graced us with his time and attention. Here in Maritzburg those days for me were back in the mid 1980’s. We had fly-fishing personalities spilling out onto the pavement on a Saturday morning, and we were swept up the the enthusiasm.

old NFDS meeting

Barry Kent demonstrating the tying of a fly in the 1980’s.



Highmoor memoir

Highmoor is a wonderful fly-fishing location. It sits high up above the  top of the first line of cliffs forming part of the Drakensberg range (known as the”little berg”)  at the source of the Little Mooi river.  I have been fishing it for many years, and visits there are always a minor pilgrimage. A recent trip inspired this amateur clip.