The onset of winter

This morning as my vehicle sputtered reluctantly to life, it coughed out a slug of yesterday’s dust through the air-vents, long before it breathed any warmth into the frigid cab. The dust in question was the only pervading reminder of our travels in Trout country. I had been a dastardly day. High wind, coming out of either the South or the West or some cold place in between. Wind that , having touched some sparse dirty snow somewhere, then thrashed the surface of the dams into icy whitecaps. We tried to fish of course. The canoe was duly launched, and

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Hot summer days and the Trout

I was very definitely assembled somewhere in Europe, or perhaps North America, but either way, my design was intended for climes closer to the arctic circle than the equator. I do not suffer heat gladly. Neither do the trout of course, and I see this as a significant parallel far beyond mere co-incidence. This neat alignment; this poetic symphony of affairs, is shattered every summer however, here in my South African home town. Pietermaritzburg, and even the village of Hilton, can turn into a cauldron of thick hot air, day after day at the height of summer. Right now it

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Roots

A good few years back, my son and I accompanied my father and his brother on a Saturday sortie to inspect a farm in the midlands of Natal. It was not just any farm this one. It was the farm of my roots in a way. It was the place where my father grew up. Umgeni Poort is situated near the headwaters of the Umgeni river, in a tight little valley which stretches South East from the little known Mpumulwane mountain.

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A day on the Mooi

“You will hear the silence of the folded hillside brushed by the wind in its grasses..” (Neville Nuttall) The other day I grasped an opportunity to go out on the river alone. From time to time I have this urge for the utter solitude and peace of being alone on the water for a full day. In fact I have that urge most weekends, and seldom get to fulfill the dream. So when this particular late September day dawned, I woke with my soul upon the lip of the precipice, ready to soar. I was happy. I left my bed

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Fly Size

I often marvel at the guys who buy their dry flies. Mostly I marvel at guys who buy dries for the second time. First time I can understand, but second time around….wow! Now this sounds like an obscure thing to say, but have you seen the size of dry flies in tackle shops? Generally the fly sizes start about a #10 or #12, and go down to a #16. If you are lucky, perhaps a #18. Now that’s just fine if you are imitating a hopper, or in the case of the DDD, a dead stable rat, but lets consider

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Brown Trout and favoured flies

This piece originally appeared in the FOSAF publication “favoured flies” in Oct 2008   Brown Trout have been tickling my fancy for over twenty years. There is something about a Brown that is appealing, fanciful, and frustrating all at the same time, and whatever that something is, it has me hunting them regularly. I struggle to define what it is about a Brown that holds appeal for me. Perhaps it is simply that there are less of them around than the Rainbow, but I suspect it runs deeper than that. Whatever it is about Browns, it keeps me coming back.

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Close encounters with Trout

Several years ago I was lucky enough to join a Kombi load of fly-fishermen, and travel down to the unlikely destination of Somerset East in the Cape to get some trout. On that trip, Maurice Broughton and I were assigned a beat on the tiny Naude’s river, and with our guide, we had an enjoyable morning hunting trout in the better pools. At lunchtime we found a lovely willow tree growing in a patch of lush grass beside a pool in the stream. We settled down to some sandwiches, and if memory serves, a chilled bottle of wine! While we

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Old hands and new

    I recently spent a few days with four friends on some magnificent trout rivers. On that particular trip we made a point of dividing ourselves differently each day, and heading out onto our booked beats, only to regroup at lunch time, or perhaps in the evening. Over those days we fished long hours, and all caught many good trout. However, despite the long stretches of time on the water, I found myself watching my colleagues fish for many enjoyable hours, particularly after I had caught a few trout, and settled into the day in question.

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A photo essay

  A memorable day on the Bokspruit at Carabas. One of the most beautiful pieces of water I know. View Full Album

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Breaking with convention: GTFITW

For many years now, there have been a great many advocates of the upstream nymph. No one has dictated that you should fish that way, but there have been the odd derogatory remarks about the downstream boys. “I’d sooner be sitting on my arse plunking for Bass, than turn around and fling my fly down this here river!” said the old codger in Robert Traver’s story.

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