Waters & words

Archive for October, 2015

Your Kavango

On Sunday it was roast beef and veg in Notties, and as the storm passed, and cool mist and drizzle set in, beers at the Notties pub amidst talk of Trout. Tuesday I was in the city: Lusaka. As I write I am looking out over the Kavango at hot sticky Angola, and with a bit of luck, I won’t miss my flight to Cape Town on Saturday. 

Stop the word, I want to get off.

But we can’t get off. We need to look after it instead. Here in Northern Namibia their issues are food for thought. Flying in this morning, I was struck by how clean the water is in the Kavango. It is in stark contrast to the fertiliser polluted Orange river further south, which looks like pea soup when you see if from the air. Apparently that is due to all the fertiliser leaching back into the river from agricultural projects along the river.

If that happened on the Kavango, I guess pea soup would enter the Okavango delta!

 

Significant pause

 

That won’t happen will it?

Well, consider this. Namibia, like most of Southern Arica, is in the grip of a drought at the moment. The last maize crop failed. Completely. (Well, their dryland maize failed completely, not their irrigated maize). People are hungry. They are buying maize in from Zambia at present. Zambia is also in a drought. I don’t think they will sell all their maize.

Flying along the rivers of the caprivi strip, I was struck by how development seems to be mushrooming along the rivers.

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This would not have been possible years ago, because of the war. But as we landed in Rundu, the old South African army base lay in ruins and the people of Rundu were setting about the business of fulfilling their role as the custodians of the bread basket of dry Namibia. A bread basket that can only stay that way if they irrigate. Like they do on the Orange river.

Pea soup.

Significant pause.

The Okavango.

 

I haven’t researched this at all, I am just sitting here looking out over the Kavango joining some dots.

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And we can’t stop the word, and we can’t get off.

What on earth does this have to do with Trout ?  (Everything on Truttablog has SOMETHING to do with Trout!)

Well I just figure that if you stress about every environmental problem in the world, you will probably just get stressed, maybe even depressed, certainly disheartened.

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds” Aldo Leopold

I received a call that interrupted my writing a moment ago. It was from a landowner, who, it turns out, shares my deep concern for the Upper Umgeni (Read “Trout”!). We spoke about what each of us could do about the problems in that catchment. I was encouraged by his enthusiasm. I am going to return with renewed commitment to do something about my “Kavango”. That is all I can do. I will leave the other Kavango to the guys who drink from that river. I hope they are committed and concerned and energised to do something.

What is your Kavango?

What are you doing to look after your little patch of the planet?  Please be encouraged and energised and committed. At the risk of sounding corny, “the planet needs you”.

I know, I have become a bunny hugger. It is hard not to.


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In the dead of night

Being one who mulls a lot (someone once labeled  me a DTN*), I have been dabbling with the concept of night fishing. Mental dabbling that is. And I am talking here of night fishing in rivers ….not stillwaters.

I have done a bit of night fishing on stillwaters.

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A bit.

Not enough.

But I confess, I have never truly night fished a stream.

My angling background is thick with images of people holding up fish in an inky blackness, or stories of Browns coming out in the dark, and of talk of fishing at night when it cools off. I remember the cover of Joe Humphries “Trout Tactics” with just such an image. 

Joe Humphreys

Then just this week, I saw these images of my friend Brett Coombes in Australia:

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Somehow though, my buddies and I just haven’t joined the dots.  I don’t know why. Maybe us South Africans associate night time with murder and evil. That would be silly…all that stuff happens here in broad daylight!  Maybe we are just scared of the dark. Or maybe it is because we lack great big rivers with even gravel streambeds, which one can shuffle into without the benefit of sight. Our streams are small and tumbling, and back-casts could be difficult if performed by sound alone, not to mention finding footholds, or even getting down into the canyon in one piece.

For now, I am writing those off as weak excuses though. It’s time we did this thing. American media has been extolling the virtues of big streamers for monster browns at night for a long time, and somehow we have been ignoring it. We have long been reading about how big browns travel long distances at night on the hunt for food. We even have fly-tyers tying up big mouse imitations. I don’t know about you but stereotype images of a big mouse making a wake and being swallowed in the blackness of night, come quickly to mind. And maybe this thing is not as stereotyped as muslims with wires sticking out of their clothing and cheese in mousetraps, but for now I am  going to treat it as the gospel truth until I have proved otherwise. Hell, I am a man of faith!

I put cheese in a mousetrap myself the other day. Graeme said I had been watching too many Tom & Jerry movies. Well this time I have been reading too many romatisized “Big Browns at night” stories, and I am going to put some cheese on that metaphoric mousetrap and go try the Mooi at the bewitching hour. PD says he just needs to check that his medical aid and his life insurance are up to date, and he is IN! 

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The upper Mooi….a perfect spot for a stroll on a moonless night, wouldn’t you say?

* DTN apparently stands for “Deep Thinking Nigger”. Some of my friends actually call me that. Like my comment on Muslims and wires, this is used parochially and descriptively here with no racial or religious bias whatsoever.  I might however, not make such innocent utterances when I am fumbling about stubbing my toes and getting washed downstream on a piece of water like that above, on a moonless night.


Tying tips: Dubbing loops

There is a lot of hype around the splitting of threads to form a dubbing loop. In my opinion, if you are using fine enough thread, you can simply create a loop in the thread, and you, or anyone else looking at your flies, will never be able to tell the difference.

To create a loop, simply use your fingers to hold a loop of thread away from the shank, and return the bobbin lead thread, to the shank, wind it around the base of the loop so formed, and continue winding. You could also introduce a thread loop using a separate thread of finer diameter than that which you are using to tie.

I use 14/0 thread most of the time. On delicate nymphs I use one of the “spider threads” for the dubbing loop.

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One advantage of making a loop instead of splitting the thread, is that the winding up of your dubbing in the loop, will definitely not wind up the thread you tie with thereafter, meaning that it will continue to lay flat. There is a technique for ensuring that the split thread doesn’t remain wound up (and rope-like) after wrapping your dubbing, but I don’t think it is failsafe.


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Fly-fishing and the pursuit of happiness: Where it all began

I don’t know about you, but I happen to remember the place and moment in time, when I decided that fly-fishing was my thing, and that quite frankly, from that moment on, it would be a lifelong pursuit.

If that sounds a little like a religious experience, then so be it.

I was standing on the path leading to the school hall. It was junior school.

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I had probably caught my first Trout in 1979. My second had been on a school trip to “Mc Dougall’s dam” on Strathaven in Underberg:

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It was now 1981.My classmate Murray and I were hotly contesting the “Hudson-Bennett” natural history prize with  our respective displays in the school hall. Mine was a sort of “trifle” of maps and pictures and information around the farmer’s conservancy in the Dargle. His was a collection of sea shells. We stopped on the path and had one of those schoolboy,  “Mine is better than yours”  conversations, and somehow the topic of my fledgling hobby of fly-fishing came up. It was a hobby for both of us. I was convinced that Murray would win the prize, and guess I must have been questioning what my “thing” would be; what I would focus on when I lost at other things. I don’t remember what was said by either of us, but I do remember that moment of decision as I stood there under the plane trees.

I won the “Hudson-Bennett” prize (I still have the book prize).

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The only other prize I won that year was one for an essay. The essay included some fly-fishing. Back then I had no idea that it might be a sign!

Murray went on to become a very wealthy man. I am told he fly-fishes a bit when he has time between jet setting about the globe.

I will never possess his wealth.  I wish him well (no schoolboy contest or  sarcasm in that one).

I have my fly-fishing, and I have many sweet memories.

I am a happy man.

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(Petro and I at the surprise book launch party that she arranged for me: 21 Sept 2015)


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