It went something like this:
We were near Mooi River.The water had been booked, but we were somehow unsure of parking arrangements. While hovering around the entrance road the farmer drove past. Bruce is his name. He is from Mooi River. I know him well. We didn’t stop him or greet him, but let him pass like a stranger. Then we parked and walked to the dam in front of his house. Bruce doesn’t own a farm, let alone one with a house overlooking it.
The lake was small and ugly, but the water was devilishly clear. This makes little sense, because it was mid-summer. The bottom was patches of orange clay interspersed with dark green weed beds. The Trout were swimming about, plain as daylight, and must have been able to see our every move.
I cast out over the hopelessly clear water, with its swimming Trout. There was no chance of catching one. They had all seen us, and we had seen all of them. It was a horrible day. But by good fortune, the fly came to rest in a narrow slither of shade, formed by a weed bank. Lo and behold, that slither of shade held a Trout bigger than all the rest.
In a startling moment of excitement the giant fish appeared from out of that slither of inky depth and ate the fly. No. I don’t know what fly it was. That is not important.
The fish went wild. It leapt and thrashed and disturbed the entire lake, thrashing about over that orange clay, and colouring the entire body of water like the Animas river after its mine spillage. It was awful.
I didn’t have my net. It was on the veranda of the cottage behind us. I didn’t mention the cottage behind us did I? No. Farmhouse. Cottage. It’s a dream OK! James was there. James is my son. He is a young man. In the dream he was a sulking teenager. I shouted for him to bring the net. Shouted and shouted. I dare not turn around to see what he was up to: I would lose the giant fish! I shouted some more. “Bring the bloody net!” He was a teenager. I don’t know what he was doing back there, but he sure as hell wasn’t bringing the net, and the fish was thrashing around in the Fanta Orange. It was a desperate situation. I shouted until I was hoarse. James wasn’t bringing the net.
Eventually he came flopping along with the frigin net. I beat him over the head with it in frustration (repeatedly), and then landed the great fish.
It was a wonderful fish, shaped like a Chinook salmon. Deep and broad. I measured it. My tape measures are all cut to the length of a reasonable South African Trout. This one ended at 29 inches. I held a place marker on the fish’s flank with my thumb and pulled the tape through my fingers to start again. 29 plus 3. 31 inches! Magnificent. I hooked the thing up to my budget Chinese spring balance and it went “clunk” as it hit the bottom.
We will never know what that fish weighed! But I have such a clear picture of it in my mind’s eye. It was a hen fish with a big hooked jaw. So clear. I think I am going to get one of those big green plastic looking replicas made of it. Hang it on the wall I will. Maybe I will get the guys to add an animation thing like they did with Billy, that disgusting bass. Mine will play “Sail” by Awol Nation. Or maybe something to the tune of “Mary had a little lamb”
It was a dream OK!
James: I am sorry about that. How is your head this morning? (But why didn’t you just bring the bloody net?)
(James is currently working on a kibbutz in Israel)
Moral of the story: (with apologies to Ed Zern) The frame of your landing net should be built slender and delicate, but don’t overdo it. You might need to land a very big fish with it. Or do other things.