Waters & words

Archive for February, 2016

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Photo of the moment (55)

Kimbers (5 of 5)


Umgeni River clean-up no 5

This is the third year that the Natal Fly Fishers Club (NFFC) is arranging volunteer days to clean up on the Umgeni river.

The next two such days are 27th Feb (next Saturday) and 12 March.

We are trying to rid the river of alien invasive wattle trees, restore good flows, terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, and yes: good fly-fishing.

Many South African fly-fishermen have probably read about this somewhere, so  I won’t bore you with the background and history. If you do need any more info, you can visit this blog. This is just about the here and now and to ask for your help.

The WWF has a parallel program on the river that wraps up in April 2016. In addition to that , many trees on the river banks have been poisoned. If not felled in the next approx 6 months, they will die standing, in which case they “die hard” and chew through chainsaw blades. In addition to this, we have had some good press in the Fly-fishing magazine and elsewhere.  This thing is happening NOW.

The time is ripe.

 

So with all of the above in mind, we are looking to hit the task hard in the first quarter of 2016…….get stuck in while we have some groundswell, and before this project becomes stale, and everyone has had enough of it.

I would really appreciate whatever help we can get in the next 3 months.

What can you do to help?

  1. Attend a volunteer day, complete with a saw, chainsaw and at least one friend. They are being held on 27 February and 12 March this year. Full details HERE or here
  2. Buy a hard cover copy of my book. I feel very uneasy shoving anything down anyone’s throat, but hear me out. The proceeds of R350 per book are going to this project. I have the last few  books to sell, and this needs to happen to raise the cash in excess of the costs. I would like that to happen sooner rather than later so that we can get going.*  In addition, if you buy a book, I have one special couple who will match the money raised!  READ MORE ABOUT THESE WONDERFUL PEOPLE HERE. I also hopefully will soon have a second entity who will do the same …so buy a book for R1,295, and as much as R1,050 goes to the project!  (the money is to be used to hire contractors  with equipment to work alongside us volunteers. Zero wastage on admin)
  3. Spread the news and enthusiasm for the project for us, on your facebook page, in your newsletter, at dinner parties, or wherever else you can.

* In fact we have thrown caution to the wind and already hired in a contractor for 27th February….I can hear the pleasing roar of chainsaws already!

If you have any contributions, ideas, donations, or would just like to touch base, mail me on  trutablog “at” gmail.com.   You can mail me on this same address to buy a book too.

 

Thanking you in advance.

 

Andrew


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books (1 of 1)


The writing of Seth Norman

The other day my friend and I did an exchange of sorts. He and his wife got oxtail. I got his left over beers, a good bottle of wine and the loan of a book. I should consider myself lucky. He would have digested the oxtail in a few hours, and I haven’t yet returned the last book he lent me. Truth be told the oxtail was an experiment: a mix of three rather dodgy looking online recipes, each of which attempt to condense the cooking time of oxtail from six hours to two, and none of which I followed with any dedication. And not only have I failed to return his last book, I haven’t even started reading it.

I was assured though, that what I consider a poor quality, gonzo picture of the author on the cover of this latest tome, should not put me off. Its the second edition.Bright blue surf breaking in the background. A bright red text box bearing the title. An arguably overexposed picture, but with the fisherman’s face in shade. 1970’s movie star blue reflective sunglasses, and after a while I noticed that the weird groin protrusion was in fact a fish, its form poorly contrasted between the mans legs and some or other rag being used as a glove to hold its tail. The right arm is held off to the side, clutching a fly rod rather clumsily……

OK, let me stop bashing the cover .

Inside is sheer brilliance.

My prejudice normally has me skipping chapters on bass, catfish and the like. Seth Norman’s skill as a writer had me relishing pieces on bait fishing!  Actually the pieces on bait fishing, spinning and saltwater species, like those on Trout, were not about fishing at all. They are about death, love, lust, justice, schizophrenia, and nomadic travelling experiences. The fishing is just the glue that holds the pages together, and it serves to attract obsessed flyfishermen like me to topics broader than fly choice and casting techniques. Norman draws you into contemplation of your father’s death, your career and lifestyle choice, and your spirit of generosity or otherwise. He causes you to lose your mind. When he has you in there, he holds you there with fishing tales, and humour, and sentences that you read three times just to roll them around in your head a bit. I found myself wanting to suck the marrow out of the pages somehow. Maybe I will sleep with it under my pillow.

Allow me to quote a few lines:

“…..we’re four thousand feet into a narrow Sierra pass. Cliff wall to the right, cliff wall to the left and in the high beams we see a great white yacht broadside, an oceangoing yacht blocking the highway from shoulder to shoulder. “What’s that?” Mor asks, naturally enough……..

………….“No matter. I know another stream behind us and south. As we bed down in a campground, Mor in front, me over the cab, I hear him laugh again. “Noahs Ark. Does that kind of thing, do things like that happen often on these trips?’’

I consider . “Arks not so often. But a fishing trip is always a meander. You can’t quite know what will come up.”

“You like that?”

“I do.”

He pauses. We each have a small skylight to look through; through mine I can see an edge of cloud silvered by moonlight. Once more, Mor laughs, long, happily. “Of course. Of course you do. You’ve always liked that.”

If you enjoyed “The river Why” by David James Duncan, or “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”,  you will enjoy this one for sure.

Not that my opinion counts in the shadow of a Pulitzer nomination, but Seth Norman, I salute you.

I must own a copy for sure, because this one will  be re-read.

To the great Nick Lyons:  I somehow only got to know about this book after its second edition ( It was first published back in 1996!) , but Sir…could you do something about that 2nd Ed cover ? A sunset maybe. A Trout? Revert to the first edition cover maybe? Maybe a rod and reel in soft light? No?   Okay no problem, I am buying the book anyway.

Seth Norman

 

The first edition is pictured left. I have ordered one…a second hand one. I found it on some or other online store.  I hope it arrives. It cost half of next year’s Christmas bonus. I know, I’m  an astute investor. No, you may not borrow it. Not even in exchange for good oxtail.


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Hopper (1 of 1)-3


Eighteen till I die

The buzz and blur of youth.  It was a  time when our fly-fishing tackle was of poor quality, but our experiences were not. We were impoverished in material things, but bailed out by parents who put wheels under us, and held back enough not to quell our thirst for adventure. They were as brave in letting us go, as I am fearful of letting my own kids go, thirty years on. I saw my son off at a bus station in the dodgy part of town this morning. My parents drove me to a campsite in a luxury vehicle, and dropped us two schoolboys there for a week with a flimsy tent, a fly rod, and no cell phone.

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Later our forays were in NX735. What a vehicle!

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It must have been the sort of left over, pool vehicle from the sugar estate. It was ours to enjoy.  We were to pack it with insufficient food, and an oversupply of beer and enthusiasm.  Our lodgings were a pump house on Len Thurston’s farm dam, because we had run out of money to pay camping fees in Himeville, and this spot was for free, albeit a bit colder.

18 (1 of 9)

The club house at Hopewell was equally cheap, and the beer we were so able to afford enhanced the boat race we had from the inlet where we had been fishing, back to the jetty. The small outboards were not fast enough, so we rowed as well.

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Back then we killed fish, ate badly, and built a store of memories, with equal  ignorance. Our flies, and the barbs on the hooks we tied them on, were too big. Our egos may have been too. One’s tackle and gear was what you currently had, and not a carefully accumulated collection of things designed to make the trip more comfortable. I got sick on account of an East Griqualand trip on which I took just one flimsy jacket. It failed to protect me from the September snow, and I had earache for a week thereafter. Kevin and Steve used a no 8 spanner as a priest to harvest disgustingly large fish from a dam near Kokstad, because it was all they had. I missed out. I had an awful stomach bug. Medication to curb the problem didn’t even occur to us. One didn’t pack that stuff.

18 (6 of 9)

Instead we packed blissful ignorance, unbridled enthusiasm, and a blotting paper attitude to everything we heard and saw. We swaggered with an un-earned air of experience, while secretly storing and treasuring every fishing tip, scribbled road map, and passed down Trout fly.  When Jimmy Little invited us into his caravan beside the water, and spoke to us in pure Welsh, we understood very little, but it was warm in there, and he added something interesting to the coffee. We got to drool on his Orvis fly rods too.  We set out fishing at 3 am and shivered beside the dam, awaiting sunrise. We embarked on an ill timed hike down a river valley and returned to the leaky tent after nine at night in the rain. We forgot to close the gate, and had to try cover up the damage that the bull did to the fishing shack door. We got hailed on, and had lighting shake our very beings in some very exposed places. Guy and I returned home to use the phone to book the next day’s fishing, and to get a hot meal, and some sleep before we headed out again. It was all we needed. We dived in and dug fish from the weeds.

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We all revere the fairytale memories of youth. But we lived our youth without revering it, for had we done so, it would have lost its youthfulness.  We are told to draw pictures and sing like we did when we were kids, and we try to cast off the chains of adulthood.  We try to pursue a time, but in fact it was not a time. It was a stage, and we have lost the faculties to re-create that stage.  We hanker for “care-free”, but it is no longer ours.

My colleagues kids won’t eat their porridge, and whine about going to school. They live in a discomfort imposed upon them by the things they can not yet control. I leave his home smug in the knowledge that this phase is behind me. I am no longer thrown into the pit of life. Now I climb gingerly down the ladder , prepared for whatever lies down there.  

I catch more fish now, because my nylon is fresh, and I tie on better hooks. I no longer have that awful reel from which the spool would regularly tumble.  I suspect there was a horrible Hopewell hangover * after that boat race, and I have learnt how to dodge those. It is forgotten, but the wisdom earned is still there. I pack a warm jacket now. It is a good one, and there is no need to suffer. 

Perhaps youthfulness belongs where it is, and resists our attempts to re invent it for good reason.

But if someone calls to say he is fetching me for fishing in 10 minutes, without prior warning, best I finish my porridge quickly and go to the senior school of life without whining!

Because I still have a lot to learn….

* Big H, big H, big H….a reference to the coding of a dump-site as being suitable for highly hazardous material!