Waters & words

Archive for November, 2015

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Photo of the moment (47)

Bushmans (1 of 1)


The first edition

Even my patience was waning, but I am happy to tell you that the limited edition, hard cover version of my book arrived yesterday.

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To those who have already pre-ordered: Thank you for your support. Your books will be making their way to you by courier, personal delivery, or whatever else you requested or arranged.

Those who would like to buy a limited edition book, or a soft cover second edition, which will be available within days…..….please click on the “Book launch” tab at the top of this page and follow the ordering instructions there.

I am very pleased with how the hard cover limited edition has come out. It is not cheap (R1,295 + courier if applicable), but the canvas cover and print quality are outstanding, even if I say so myself. The soft cover second edition, at R380 should make a pleasant Christmas gift, and the order form has been updated: you can now place an order for one of those too (just 2 days away from being able to deliver those too!).

Thank you to all who have sent me messages of support and congratulations. In this strange endeavor of trying to sell my wares without being pretentious about it, encouragement is my haven and asylum!


I thought that looked familiar, Kehlamehlo

 

Forgive me for sharing the exact same picture a second time, but I thought this was too good not to.

See the picture taken by me recently and posted here on Truttablog (Photo of the moment no 46). Hopefully you realised that there is a trout in there

Tom Sutcliffe (19 of 22)

Now look at the picture below. It is a picture taken by Tom Sutcliffe on a stream he frequents. Tom showed me a stream recently, and after we had fished it, I returned a few days later with my wife for a casual hike (I was under strict “no fishing” rules!) As we walked along, I instinctively looked for fish, and one of those spotted is the one in the photo above.

I was trolling an old post on Tom’s website recently when I spotted the picture below. I instantly recognised the fish by its spot pattern. Clear as daylight: same fish!

Have a look. Clear, isn’t it?

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OK, I recognised the rock with the curve in it.

If I had been Tom, I might have recognised the spots. After I had fished with him, and he had pointed out a great many fish, some of which I never did see, I  told him that I have a new nickname for him: “Kehlamehlo”. It is a Zulu name, and directly translated means “Old Man Eyes”.

In Zulu, to call someone “Old” is in and of itself, a mark of respect. When you witness Tom spotting fish, you can’t help but have respect for him. He truly is a master of the art.

* To see an excellent sample of fish spotting pictures and to take Tom’s fish spotting challenges, see the link above and other “spotting trout” essays in the nine part series on his excellent website, which he posted in 2010.


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Photo of the moment (46)

Tom Sutcliffe (19 of 22)


Droughts and patience

I am sure most of us have had some uninformed person, upon hearing that we are a fly fisherman, say “Oh I wouldn’t have the patience to sit and wait for a fish to bite”.

Our explanations are long and tedious, and the person glazes over after a minute or so. I advocate Ed Zern’s approach*:  Just throw stones at them until they go away!

We all know that fly-fishing, and river fly-fishing in particular, is so filled with activity, stealth, assessment and other things that occupy our faculties, that one hardly requires patience.  Where we do however require patience, and where I suspect we fail to recognise the need for patience, is in waiting for the seasonal conditions to improve.

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There is much literature and ‘fishing eye candy’ that serves to imprint on our minds, the expectation of a clockwork season. I for one, have come to expect: frost from May until August; an inch of rainfall in July (with snow on the berg); mist in September; thunderstorms commencing in October; cool nights from mid March onwards; wild thunderstorms in December. I could go on. All of these things can fail to happen many times in any particular decade, but I continue to expect them. I think it is a part of our psyche. It is probably the same part that doesn’t believe that someone in our close circle could die tomorrow.  We live in denial of such facts.

And spring droughts in South Africa, are as common as bad coffee. Perfect, wet cool spring seasons are a rarity for sure. Dry spring heat is definitely common. Very common.

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The fact that we live in denial of that, is evident when farmers have to sell off stock, and stop irrigating, and towns have to impose water restrictions. Our industry, population, and stocking rate, have all grown to beyond a long term sustainable level, and then we act surprised when it doesn’t work out. I don’t mean to underestimate the personal loss, pain and anguish of having to sell a herd of cows ( as my brother had to do yesterday!), or wind up a business, and I don’t mean to imply that any individual is foolish in having extended operations beyond what the long term dictates is sustainable, but looking at the bigger picture, I think that humankind’s expectations exclude black swans +

I firmly believe however, that Trout, by their very existence, can signal to us what sort of level of water is a realistic long term minimum. I made a remark to Tom Sutcliffe the other day. It went something like this  “ I think that the average size of Trout in a stream, is an indicator of the lowest level of water they experience”. Tom said he thought that pretty much nailed it.

So here it is: Little berg streams, (like the Little Mooi in that pretty section below the road on the way from Cleopatra to the conservation office at Highmoor), will hold fish of a size that can be sustained by the miserable still pools left at the end of a drought. No bigger. No more.

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And if you have a very small stream, but it happens to be one that stays relatively full in even the worst of droughts, you may be pleasantly surprised by the size of its Trout. Similarly, a large river, which looks as though it should hold lunkers, will not, if it is reduced to a trickle in seasons such as the one we are currently experiencing.

This is where realism comes in. Even one pound Trout, will never be a regular  feature of the Elands River (Boston, KZN). And this is also where patience comes in. We might have to concede that an entire spring, even an entire river season, may be a write off for the fly-fisherman. A complete write off.  I mean: months of staying home watching the lawn grass die, kind of write off. And, if we extend that logic, some streams, pretty as they may look in a good year, maybe aren’t supposed to hold Trout at all.

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No, I don’t want to accept it either. I am feeling crabby  right now, and if anyone makes stupid comments about patience, they had better watch out for flying rocks.


* Footnote on Ed Zern’s approach:  In Zern’s superb book “Hunting and fishing from A to Zern” he describes how he once had a particularly precious hook get left in the jaw of a small and irritating Trout that he inadvertently bungled and snapped off.

He went after it, flailing with his landing net in an attempt to recover the hook, and then noticed he was being watched with disdain by some other anglers. Rather than attempt an explanation, that would just sound like excuses, he threw rocks.

+ Footnote on Black Swans:  Read the book by Nassim Taleb….  Good material if you are a DTN.

# In case foreign readers hadn’t gathered by now, we are in the throws of an awful drought in most of South Africa. Our spring rains should commence around late September, and by late October we should be getting some respectable run-off. It hasn’t happened at all. Many streams have stopped flowing altogether. It is not a pretty thing!


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Photo of the moment (46)

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