By Paul De Wet
By the age of ten I must have read Neville Nuttall’s chapter entitled “My first trout”, in Life in the Country a hundred times, and I think I could quote bits of it verbatim. When, aged ten, I finally did catch my first trout (in the upper Umzimkulu) my Mum persuaded me that I should write and tell Neville all about it, which I did. I was so touched by his reply – I still am!
I don’t remember if I told Neville about the details of the catch – I am sure I would have. I had followed my Dad endlessly up and down rivers for years without catching anything.
the late John DeWet on the Pholela 1981
That weekend, we were up at a cottage on the upper Umzimkulu and it was our last morning – I thought I was going to go fishless once again! I was pulling my line back up a rapid when I felt what I was convinced was a fish on the end of my line! I shouted to my Dad who came charging along with the net, grinning from ear to ear until I pulled a stick out of the water! I was bitterly disappointed and I still remember watching my Dad trudge sadly back to his rod, deflated, with slumped shoulders while he folded up his landing net. I cast my line down the rapid once again and was almost immediately into a trout – 9 ¼ inches long! I pulled it straight in and onto the bank with no finesse whatsoever. My Dad came charging along with the net for which I had no use. He lifted me up in the air and swirled me around while the hapless trout flapped about on the bank!
That was over 35 years ago now and was the start of an ongoing love affair with trout fishing. My now late father and I shared thousands of hours together on the water. I doubt that a father and son have ever caught less but had more fun! I have always felt that Neville’s book, and particularly his chapter “My first trout” sparked my imagination long before I ever caught a trout. For that and for his kindness in taking the time to write back to me I will be eternally grateful.
Paul and his Dad
Comment by Andrew: I do not know ANYONE in South Africa or beyond, who has “earned their stripes” , blanking on second rate waters, and with poor tackle for as many hours as this man did. Most flyfishermen I know today would have given up. The outcome is a man who, whilst he does not fish as often as he would like to, has a deeper appreciation of our sport than most.
Paul and I have fished together regularly for 34 years.
video, featuring Paul.
To my fishing buddy on his birthday: