Waters & words : a celebration of flyfishing

The price (or benefit) of not being a sheep

I know of many anglers who’s success comes in large part from searching out waters that are fishing very well. Make no mistake, they are often anglers considerably more proficient than I am, but they have a way of ratcheting that up exponentially by keeping their ears to the ground, and keeping their network  buzzing. Theirs is a race. There are rules, and inner circles, and invitations garnered, not shared.

As a semi professional hillbilly, I seem to have missed the secret handshakes. I just go off to my usual spots. Spots that were on the list a few years ago, but are now largely relegated to the B list. I have had spectacular fishing there before. It will come again in the future, that is a certainty, but for now they are quiet.

And I have them to myself. 

Quite. Really quiet.

On my last jaunt, I didn’t even notice any planes overhead. Maybe that was because Joburg is closed. What I did hear was the plaintive cry of orange-throated longclaws in the windy veld. I heard the fish eagle. I heard the loud gulp of an occasional large trout rolling on the surface the few times the wind dropped. For the rest of the time, I heard the wind. Incessant wind, whisking the veld and buffeting my hat and ringing in my ears. In the evening I heard the crackle of the fire and the lapping of the waves a few metres away outside. In the morning I heard the kiewiets complaining at the cows, and the odd trill of a panicked dabchick. If the wind wasn’t blowing, I would hear the roll of another heavy fish. 

I caught a few fish, but they were few and far between. They were beautiful.

Just yesterday  I was given the inside track on another water that is fishing spectacularly well. Big fish. Grip and grins. Faces I don’t recognize. Several of them. PD and I shared the pictures. I could make that phone call. I could get in on the action. I could be part of the inner circle. The noise.  I asked PD what he though. “I fear its inundated already” he said adding “Like North pier in a shad run”.

They are big fish though. I could still make the call….

Or I could work on that semi professional hillbilly thing , catch smaller fish somewhere quiet, and not be a sheep.

One response

  1. Paul Johnson

    Andrew, I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments, while there is undoubted joy in ‘following the sheep’ down that well worn track, or perhaps not so well worn, as you say. There is nothing better than discovering new water or re-discovering waters apparently lost in time, or, where the UK is concerned thought lost in the depths of and to the depredations of industry. Some of my most enjoyable hours have been spent in almost forgotten semi-urban Scottish ‘burns’ almost devoid of trutta-fario as recently as twenty or so years ago, now just brimful of eager, free-rising trout. Isn’t nature, given half a chance, just wonderful…?

    Love your articles Andrew keep them coming.

    Kind Regards
    Paul Johnson
    (Formerly many moons ago of Amanzimtoti and Kingsburgh)

    July 12, 2021 at 1:06 am

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