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ISSN 1011-3681


Sept/Oct 2020 Vol. 34 No.180

Contents - Sept/Oct 2020 Editorial - Ian Cox ...........................................................................................................................................................4 The usual editorial guff and a little more First Bite - Like Majic - Andrew Savs .............................................................................................................................5 A regular witty column on all things flyfishing and beyond Small streams - Peter Brigg.............................................................................................................................................8 A perspective on fishing small streams Women in Waders - Bridgette Stegen..........................................................................................................................28 How my flyfishing hobby silenced the millennial drone in my head Heritage Flies : Part 9 - Peter Brigg...............................................................................................................................30 The GUN The Feather Mechanic: Book review - Ian Cox.........................................................................................................34 A Fly tying philosophy How to plan your river flybox - Gary Glen-Young.............................................................. .......................................38 Avoiding the "just in case syndrone" The Master Rod Builder .................................................................................................................................................44 Catching up with Derek Smith DUMB LUCK and the KINDNESS OF STRANGERS by John Gierach.............................................................................52 Book review by Clem Booth, Peter Brigg, Andrew Mather and Andrew Fowler Die McNab Uitdaging - FFF Safaris...............................................................................................................................56 Gunyatoo Trout Farm and Guest Lodge - Andrew Allman........................................................................................63 The Analogy of Flyfishing to good business strategy and market penetration - Ari Seilis......................................72 South Africa's new coastal MPAs - Bruce Mann.........................................................................................................84 A brief explanation for recreational anglers Trout Wars - Ian Cox......................................................................................................................................................90 The end of Decency. FOSAF News - Ilan Lax .................................................................................................................................................95

NAVIGATING THE MAGAZINE You will note that we make liberal use of hyperlinks both to pages within the magazine and to websites outside it. Links to external websites will enable you to further explore these topics. The idea is that you can navigate around the magazine from the contents page. Each item on the contents page is hyperlinked to the article in the magazine. This means you do not have to scroll through the entire magazine if you don’t want to, you can access specific articles merely by clicking on the link. We also want you to share the magazine with your friends on social media, just go to the share button when you’re looking at the magazine on issuu.com and you’ll be able to send a link via email, Facebook or Twitter. There is also a hyperlink on the bottom of each page linking you to our website where you can download back issues. Happy exploring!

Sunset over Elgro on the Vaal Photo: Andrew Mather

SOUTHERN AFRICAN FLYFISHING: • Available free of charge online at www.issuu.com; • Published bi-monthly; • The official magazine of the Federation of Southern African Flyfishers (FOSAF); • Africa’s original flyfishing magazine LAYOUT AND PUBLISHER: Southern African Flyfishing Magazine (Pty) Ltd Registration No. 2018/356867/07 www.saflyfishingmag.co.za editor@saflyfishing.co.za EDITORS: Ian Cox (082 574 3722) Andrew Mather (083 309 0233) Andrew Savides (082 651 2685) CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE: Andrew Allman, Clem Booth, Peter Brigg, Ian Cox, Gerhard Delport, Leonard Flemming, Andrew Fowler, Gary GlenYoung, Ilan Lax, Bruce Mann, Andrew Mather, Andrew Savides, Ari Serlis, Bridgette Stegen and Chris Williams. COPYRIGHT Copyright in the magazine reposes in the Publisher. Articles and photographs are published with the permission of the authors, who retain copyright. The magazine and content may be hyperlinked and downloaded for private use but may not be otherwise hyperlinked or reproduced in part or whole without the written permission of the publishers. DISCLAIMER While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this magazine, the publishers do not accept responsibility for omissions or errors or their consequences. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers, the editors or the editorial staff.

EDITORIAL This is our first edition of the magazine to feature someone on the cover. And there can be no better person for this than Gordon Van Der Spuy. Not only has he written a brilliant book (see my review) but it is also wonderful to acknowledge one of the younger ouens (blokes for the non-RSA people) who have given so much to this passion we call flyfishing. And one of the wonderful; things about the way we make this magazine happen is that while we are enormously grateful for our advertisers to whom we think give good value, we are also able to promote people and products in what we perceive to be the interests of flyfishing rather than in pursuit of revenue. I know it may not look like the smartest business model but judging by the terrific readership for the last edition in which we promote South Africa’s flyfishing guides, it seems to work. So, this time we are giving a huge plug to Gordon. Buy his book when it is launched next month. The other news that is hot off the press is DEFF’s latest attempt to list trout as invasive. It is difficult to understate the extent of this catastrophe. Trout aquaculture and the sale transportation or stocking of live trout will all become criminal offences if this law is not stopped. But the Minister DEFF does not seem to care. Minister Creecy declined to meet a high-level delegation from Aquaculture SA. The DEFF officials who did meet with them said that they are going ahead anyway and are opposing FOSAF’s urgent application. If FOSAF fails on this expect other value chains to be treated the same way. FOSAF cannot be allowed to fail. But, back to happier topics. This edition has some very good stuff in it. And it is pretty varied too. So, there is one of Andrew Allman’s travelogues for those of us who like destination fishing. The environmental theme is extended with an article of the Marine Protected areas that were proclaimed last year. Gary Glen Young will blow your mind with his article on what a fly box should look like. There is a great deal of synergy between what Gary says and what Gordon has written in his book. But for those who just like tying flies Peter Brigg gives us another in his heritage flies collection as well as an article on fishing small streams. And then for something completely different we have Ari Serlis writing about flyfishing while disabled. And then Gehard Delport goes for a Macnab in Afrikaans. And much, much more. Enjoy Ian

Cover photo: Gordon van der Spuy. Photo credit: Tim Wege

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I’m sitting on the tailgate of my truck staring vacantly ahead and contemplating the day. Bags, rod tubes and coolers surround me in an arc of disorganisation. I’ll only use a fraction of what I so hastily packed. I don’t mind, even the pretence of preparedness sits just fine with me.

like considerably longer than it actually is and still the whole process feels natural, familiar and, given the times, almost reassuring.

From the street below I hear the sound of a motor decelerating and I slide down onto my feet. The street lights go out just as The Super model roars up to my gate, all headlights and familiar smiles. We’ve been doing this for years now and neither he nor I are ever late. It’s this sort of unspoken commitment that keeps the wheels of friendship running freely.

It’ll take you half a lifetime to realise it but there’s a sense of ritual that insidiously creeps its way into most of what you do. You’re surprised to experience a vague sense of comfort from this. The innate value of ritual is difficult to describe, although we all recognise it. It is the natural result of something done repeatedly and is quite distinct from ceremony. You don’t have time for the self-important, unnaturally showy displays of ceremony. Ceremonies require planning. You abhor planning. Rituals just are.

We no longer discuss in any real sense anymore what time we’ll leave. The terms of our accord were forged through habit and it has held fast. ’Early’ is five-thirty, ‘not too early’ is six and ‘we’re in no rush’ is six-thirty. It’s still within the first few weeks of the season and with the river running low large areas of it will not hold fish or will be impractical to approach. We’ll only fish parts of our beats today.

Simple activities, like the order in which you slip into your boots or assemble segments of your rod, all have, when done properly and often enough, a ritual quality about them. Patting the pockets of my vest and mumbling “flies, tippet, floatant, net” before I turn my attention towards the water has for years been like a mantra to me. Disrupt his ritual and even the most confident angler will experience a spark of disorientation.

It’s a little after not too early and just as we’re transferring the last of my gear into Supermodel’s new SUV The Artisan pulls in. We feign irritation and give him hell for his tardiness. He plays along, remonstrating unconvincingly. To be fair he’s barely minutes late, but it needs to be done.

This is to be my second outing on a river this season. The first was a fortnight ago when I fished alone on a stretch that I don’t fish much but that I know can be productive in early spring. It has a series of long, deep pools separated by mixed riffle water. I fish it with a light nymph under a buoyant dropper and, if all else fails, which it often can, a small streamer can be bumped along through the pools with a reasonable expectation of success.

Pulling up for fuel at the regular stop Supermodel tops off his tank while we get coffee. We haven’t done this for what feels www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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When you think of success in early September you need to be brutally realistic about it. At this time of year the difference between failure and success can be missing a single take. When you’re rusty from an extended layoff you’re bound to miss a few. You know that it shouldn’t piss you off as much as it does, but it does.

As you get closer to opening day the steady gnaw of apprehension grows. You don’t like to admit it but you worry that you won’t remember how to do it again. It just seems so implausible, this catching of a wild thing on a lure that you made at the dining room table while all of the sensible people in the house were fast asleep.

Targeting pools in low water is as pragmatic an approach as any. The problem with the tactic is that after doing it for any length of time it will inevitably begin to nag at your conscience. After pricking or landing a few you begin to lose the taste for it. You can’t get over the feeling that they’re huddled nervously together in the safety of deeper water. It’s probably still too soon in the year to be out and that you’re only unnecessarily subjecting yourself to an internal ethical debate. Still, they’re strong and aggressive and it feels good to be getting yourself back into a game where confidence is your best advantage.

This sport, this most beautiful activity, seems to be designed to be as unlikely as possible to achieve its objective. You were attracted to it as a child when you read about it in wellthumbed books. You were drawn to it like a magic trick. The cunning sleight of hand fascinated you and the improbability of it all intrigued you. You stayed with it for its aesthetic, you like to think, but you’re not entirely certain of what that actually means. After all this time it's just still the most beautiful, most magical thing that you’ve ever seen. Your first day on the stream turned out to be everything that you remembered it should be. It didn’t take long for you to raise and land a fish from the riffle at the head of the first short pool.

I’ve never started a season confidently. I’m sheer anxiety in a wide-brimmed hat.

It was a good one too, seventeen inches and as plump as they get. You got more after this, on top and from below, and didn’t need to dredge pools for the bulk of them either. You didn’t even fish the next day, although you had nowhere pressing to be and could quite easily have. For once you quit while you were ahead. The entire experience was like an affirmation, a whisper in your ear that says “relax, man, you got this”.

The off-season can do that to you. You’d planned to spend it filling fly boxes and servicing gear but you spend most of it ruminating on the season that was. There were minor victories and, more frequently, abject defeats. Sure, you learned some lessons, but in the main what you’re left with are riddles that you try to find workable explanations for and can’t. You’re becoming obsessive and you realise with complete ambivalence that it no longer bothers you that this doesn’t bother you.

The feeling never passes. The quality of the magic trick being performed never dulls. It still grabs you by some primal part and holds you fast.

There are some days from the last season that you remember in their entireties. For the most part what you recall is a fleeting collection of snapshots - a slow take to a dry, a flash at a nymph, the sound of blood in your ears as a good one broke you off. You don’t remember individual fish. You find it strange that your memories are dominated by images of light on water. You really thought that there’d be more fish. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

Then you go out again and again and again and repeat the trick hundreds and hundreds of times and every time it’s just like the first. Like magic. 6

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Small stream fishing Peter Brigg The pursuit of wild mountain trout leads to some of the most beautiful, uncluttered, crystalline places this country has to offer, unspoiled natural environments, places where the air and water is clean, where eagles soar high in wide skies, where the only sounds and smells are natures own. Here a rudimentary sense of connection to the big wild earth will creep into awareness, where the seeds of a relationship with the natural world will flourish – these inspiring places are also uncompromising, where man is the intruder, where the earth works its magic …. if you let it in, it will run deep in your soul.

on my years fishing the headwater streams – its not rocket science. I don’t bother with being overly technical as Thomas McGuane put it in his book “The Longest Silence” when referring to some who become pedantic about the smallest details concerning themselves about fractions of millimeters and grams, “don’t let the tail wag the dog”. Having said that and before I’m hung, drawn and quartered, I do believe that it’s a case of each to his or her own. To u n d e r s t a n d t h e c o n t e x t o f m y comments they are based on what I have learnt from others and practical experience much of it by trial and error – I watched, listened and asked questions, and spent a lot of time on the water experimenting with what I’d learnt and refining techniques. Although I had started fly fishing many years before, my interest in small streams took off sometime in the early 1980s. My classroom were my home waters of the KZN Drakensberg Mountains, but also the streams of the Eastern and North Eastern Cape Highlands. I’ve heard it said that you get good after 10 000 hours – the “tipping point” principle.

My fishing story goes back as long as I can remember to the earliest worm plunking, bait lobbing and sinker flinging days with my father. But it changed when I first cut my fly fishing teeth as a young boy on the rivers of the Eastern Cape under the guidance of a close family friend, Uncle Lake. However, my interest in small streams was later fueled during my hiking days in the Drakensberg Mountains and inspired by people like Dr. Tom Sutcliffe, Ed Herbst, and the small band of close friends that I have fished with. I am fairly often asked about my experiences fly fishing small streams. What follows is my take on some of the fundamentals that I subscribe to. They have helped me achieve a degree of competence, but there is always room for improvement – one is never too old to learn. First off, I don’t pretend to be some kind of expert on the subject and I also don’t pretend to know it all, so what can I offer? I can tell you about those things that have worked for me, and those that haven’t. I can tell you about the factors that I consider important to fishing these waters well, understanding the conditions and developing the knowledge and skills – based www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

I’m talking here about the tributaries, sometimes the tributaries of the tributaries of the larger well-known rivers. These are the thin blue threads in the tapestry of the back country topographical map following the deep valleys, through gorges and below towering peaks – here the contours are stacked closely together. These clear, cold freestone streams, perhaps creeks are a better description, that rush and tumble over riffles, through pockets, cascades and the occasional deeper run or pool are in places of natural beauty. 9

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The trout are wild and any 12-inch fish is cause for celebration. The occasional 14 incher or rare specimen above this, is considered a trophy. Author John Gierach pretty much nailed it when he said, “Your stature as a flyfisher isn’t determined by how big a trout you can catch , but by how small a trout you can catch without being disappointed, and, of course, without losing the faith that there is a bigger one in there.’

everything you do in these waters will be at close quarters – its a given that you are going to stand out as Gulliver did in Lilliput. The trout have a spooky streak and a propensity to bolt for cover at the first sign of anything weird looming over them. Then, at other times they display a degree of innocence and become raspy and aggressive – grabby feeders with a kind of unpredictable split personality, not unlike some of us humans. However, it’s wise in these diminutive finely balanced systems, where the water is clear and the bottom never very far away, to relax, slow down, plan your approach and always use the stealth of a stalking heron – caution will get you within casting range.

There is an infectious charm about the trout in these streams, but they can be difficult to understand at times and just when you think you are beginning to crack the code, they have the habit of proving you wrong. Almost



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I like to focus on doing the basics right, keeping it simple and fishing as well as I can, or as the trout will allow me. I have selected some of what I believe to be the aspects that should make your experience less frustrating, enjoyable and successful. However, it’s not an exhaustive list of the do’s and dont’s.

one. Rods and lines are a personal choice of the flyfisher and what suits his or her casting style. My advice before parting with your hard-earned money, is to try different combinations and find something that you feel comfortable with and that suits your casting style. Leaders and tippets Leaders and tippets are getting down to the business end.  I’ve been through the phase of meticulously hand-tied leaders, but I now use t h e c o m m e rc i a l l y a v a i l a b l e t a p e re d monofilament leaders. On these streams because you are constantly moving through the variations of water types, I settle for a couple of combinations that cover just about all without having to be constantly changing the set up. My two go to set-ups are in the range 9 to 12ft 4X leader with a 3 to 4ft 6X tippet. These will satisfy most conditions and if necessary, can be shortened or lengthened. For example when I’m fishing micro flies or the fish are being picky in thin, clear conditions, a longer length of 7X tippet may be preferable or in windy conditions it can be shortened. Having recently been converted, I’m now using a 2mm tippet ring attached on the end of the leader instead of the Perfection loop I have always used. I find that the ring not only extends the life of the leader, but makes it quick and easy to add or change the tippet.

I have a modest library of books, many covering the technical aspects of fly fishing, and rivers in particular. Among some of those that are dog-eared and well-worn for the solid information they contain – ’Presentation’ by Gary Borger, ‘The Dry Fly’ by Gary LaFontaine as well as the writings of Ed Engle and Bob Wyatt and others. But it must be said that there is no substitute for honing ones skills than time spent on the water and learning from others. Rods. I have a preference for slower, softer actioned rods on the mountain streams. They range from 0wt to 3wt and in length 7’0” to 8’9” both graphite and glass fibre. However, my absolute favourite is a hand-crafted Stephen Boshoff 3/4wt bamboo rod based on a Paul Young Midge taper. I would ideally suggest that a 2wt is perfect for all conditions on small streams, but if the budget is tight, I'd recommend a 3wt in the range 7'6" to 8'6" with a forgiving, sensitive action. I say this because if you are limited to a single rod, it will give you the versatility to fish tiny streams but also the larger rivers.

Furled leaders You are either a fan or not. I happen to be a fan for their softness, flexibility and accuracy and switch between furled and monofilament leaders depending on conditions. Local artist and craftsman, Marcel Terblanche makes the best I have used – they also outlast monofilament leaders.

Reels. For my stream rods I use reels with click and pawl systems and are really only there to hold line. In these conditions reels are less important than the rod and line. Lines. A floating line is all you will need. I use both weight forward and double taper, but my preference for up close and fine casting are the weight forward lines. The one advantage of the double taper line is that you can turn it around if the front section is worn or damaged – in effect two lines for the price of www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

Reading the water. To begin with, let me say that the trout’s basic instincts focus on survival – shelter, feeding and reproduction. In other words, inherited instincts and learnt-by-experience stuff.  Things like what to eat, what not to eat and how not to get eaten.  15

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Then, for a certain period once a year, their hormones scramble everything in that pea size brain or theirs and, to the exclusion of almost all else, they concentrate on reproduction and ensuring the perpetuation of the species. The point I make is that if they need to store and recall information to do with survival then they are pretty sharp.  The trout is usually way ahead of any flyfisher in this regard, so I’m serious when I talk of the importance of things like slowing down, observation, stalking and careful presentation.  Remember these fundamentals, because they will help you to decide on an appropriate approach and presentation.  For example, understanding the different rise forms, will enable you to determine things like where the trout are, www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

whether they are feeding or not and what they are likely to be feeding on. It will help with the choice of fly. Think like a fish, understand its needs, anticipate its responses and know what your fly is doing in the drift. I usually wait until I’m at the stream before lining my rod and deciding on the fly. Stand back from the stream while you do this keeping one eye on the water. Given time the stream will offer up clues to help with your initial decision. It may be rising fish taking emergers in the meniscus or adult insects on the surface, terrestrials drifting on the current, a shadow or flash of colour below the surface indicating the fish are feeding on nymphs or rising emergers. 16

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Keen observation is a crucial factor and will give you all the information you need to fish the stream properly. Look for the potential holding and feeding lies – structure, undercuts, current seams. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the fish rising at the head of the run, there may be a better fish holding in the tail, if you spook it there is a good chance it will rush through the run putting everyone on edge and you’ll be left standing at the starting gate. Fish all the water slowly and stealthily working your way up. If you do it properly the riser will be waiting for you when you get within range.

you are doing and change your tactics if necessary. Be ready to respond to the trout’s behaviour at any given time.  Another suggestion is that if you have to change flies or tippet, sit down to do it, preferably in a concealed position. Your imposing and unfamiliar shape as well as your movements will put the wind up the trout as sure as the sun will rise in the east again tomorrow.  Once you have covered the likely areas or disturbed a run, rest it for 10 to 15 minutes and try again or move on to the next.  On streams it’s quite often only the first cast that counts certainly the first cast is your best chance at a rising fish — after that, other than the village idiot, you will find the rest of the trout stuck like gum to the pavement and impossible to move.  You can always return to try again later. I mentioned concentration, it’s worth taking a break every so often, have a snack and enjoy the view. Refreshed, you will be good to go and your concentration levels will be reset.

Stealth. For these streams I’m talking about a high degree of stealth, about sliding into the situation with a minimal amount of disturbance. It’s like hunting — a calculated approach made up of a combination of elements such as the stalk, the cast, the drift and strike.  Drab coloured clothing, not necessarily full camo, is recommended and as John Gierach put it,”I leave the white straw cowboy hat and blaze orange hunting shirt at home when I’m going out to fish a small stream.”

The places you will find trout are positions where there are changes in structure, changes in depth and changes in currents. Concentrate on these spots. In small streams trout are often where you least expect them. If the trout are not showing themselves, identify the prime holding spots.  Search the bank undercuts, eddies, reverse flows and any quieter water.  Drift your fly in front of and behind obstructions.  Cover the edges of the lanes of current, where the water cascades into the head of the run and don’t overlook the shallow areas and riffles before moving on.  A good spot to target is where two lanes of current meet.  A line of debris or foam easily identifies these areas that serve as a natural food conveyer, the trout know it and watch these for easy pickings.

White and bright colours should be used back home for weddings and parties. Stealth, short casts and a careful presentation of the fly are important – take time to read the water, plan your approach, slow down, conceal yourself by breaking up your profile using natural features and bankside vegetation and keep your shadow off the water and you rod tip low. Forget about dignity, it’s unlikely anyone will be watching so get with the programme and start sneaking around like a gnome. Planning your approach ahead of making the presentation.  I have said it before but let me repeat it, fish all the water from the tail of the pool with short manageable casts, cover the water ahead of you. Then move upstream by taking a few cautious steps and repeat the process. These enigmatic little trout just don’t seem to get used to anything unusual – you need to be thinking about this constantly and managing your actions accordingly.  Keep concentrating on what www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

Every so often you come across that rare flyfisher that possess some kind of sixth sense – what looks like extrasensory perception, but isn’t, nor is it knowledge as we understand it. But, without getting all mystical about it, they have the irksome habit of being able to take fish out of a pool you have just walked through, catching them in seemingly 19

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impossible places and knowing without any of the usual signs, that a trout has mouthed the fly – as if their neural synapses are trained to detect another intelligence.

Wading is to enter the world of the trout. It’s like a spiritual form of aqua-aerobics.  There is a kind of welcoming feeling about the tug of the current around one’s legs and the cold water against the skin that concentrates the mind and makes one feel more a part of the fish’s environment.  And when you feel right, you fish better — at least, that’s my take on it and confidence does help. But, there is so much that can go wrong with your good intentions for sneaking up on fish when wading, that ideally, in theory, it is probably preferable to stay out of the water, but in reality, that’s impossible. Remember, you are fishing at close quarters and you are going to be on top of the trout most of the time.  They will see and hear you easily, so don’t splash around. You will need to tread carefully, easing yourself into the water — the slow determination of a snail comes to mind.  Purely from a practical point of view, I prefer to wade in a pair of lightweight, quick drying, long pants rather than having to worry about ripping an expensive pair of waders — something that can happen easily in the mountains. Once you are in the water, act like the snail I’ve mentioned.  Take small deliberate steps, edge your way along and use more of a kind of sliding shuffle, feeling each foothold carefully before shifting your weight.  You just have to be steady and balanced before you cast. Whatever you do, don’t step and cast at the same time, this can be a recipe for disaster.

Spotting fish. Concentrate, look through the water rather than at it. Shield your eyes from glare, using both hands cupped around your cap if necessary. Move your head from side to side to get different angles of view on the water Once the bottom structure and features become clearer, visually search for anything that changes or moves against the background, it may be a shadow or a flash of colour.  You will find that once you have fixed a position to focus on, spotting the fish will become easier — your eyes will stop scanning the wider picture as they are instinctively inclined to do and you will begin to pick up on the subtleties of unusual movement, shadow and colour. Being a little higher helps to achieve a steeper angle of view, which will reduce reflection and glare.  However, this is a double-edged sword because it also makes it easier for the fish to see you.  As I have stressed before, it’s critical to keep a low profile, so if you do move higher, try to do it in a concealed position.  We mustn’t forget the benefits of polarised sunglasses. They are a must – apart from eye protection, they are a considerable help with reducing extraneous glare.



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Casting. When it comes to casting , if you are anything like me, seek the help of someone proficient at it who can teach you two of the most important elements of stream fishing: eliminating false casting and how to put slack into the leader as the fly lands. There are a variety of casts as well as aerial off and on the water mending techniques that will help with throwing curves into the leader and line to counteract that nemesis of all river flyfishers, drag. I'm not getting into the complexity of describing the merits and when to use them, but the two useful ones that come to mind are the Pile and Tuck casts. There are enough books around on casting techniques to fill the village library, but all of this literature — no matter how graphic the explanations — is no substitute for hands-on instruction.  It doesn’t end there, you need to practice, practice and practice some more, preferably www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


on the river. Today’s modern flyfisher is, for whatever reason, geared to distance casting and sometimes even his prowess is judged on it. Forget it because long casts over 30ft on small streams are not that efficient — there is a good chance the line will land badly and it  is a given that it will lie across a number of lanes of current so drag is going to be difficult, probably impossible, to prevent.  If you get refusals it may be micro drag, lengthen the tippet. When nymphing watch the fly line and the leader in the drift. Keep an eye out for twitches, but also for the fly line slowing in the drift, even very marginally – it’s more than likely a trout mouthing the fly. Accuracy is going to be compromised with long casts – use the shortest cast that will get the job done and get good at fishing long leaders because you are going need them. Return to contents

The roll cast is particularly effective on this type of water and avoids the need for false casting. It helps especially in tight situations and when there is no room for a back cast. A low side-arm cast is a useful tool not just to conceal rod movement, flash and shadow, but it helps with casting into a downstream wind.

final step — movement usually provides the trigger especially while the aquatic insects are in the surface film and trapped in the meniscus trying to rid themselves of their shuck as they emerge. The same applies to terrestrial insects attempting to swim to the safety of terra firma. What do the trout see – recognisable features, profile, size, maybe colour, legs, feelers and wings. You need to think of this when tying imitations of the aquatic and terrestrial insects. These are the elements that separate it from all the inanimate bits-npieces floating past. Trout base their decisions on seeing something that looks familiar, something that they have eaten and enjoyed before – in short, something buggy. Add movement to the recipe and you will help the trout to make up its mind through illusion and deception. As the late Lee Wulff so succinctly summed it up in this context, “Movement is life”. And, if looks alive, it’s probably good enough to eat.

High-sticking is something that will serve you well fishing confined pocket water, fast flowing sections and over shallow rapids, which is most of the time on these streams. After the cast, lift the rod tip high, keeping just the leader or part of it on the water.  Follow the drift of the dry fly or nymph with the rod tip and you will get a good drag free drift.  In this way you will also avoid having the current pull the belly of the line at a different speed to the leader and fly. Movement, contrast and vulnerability are key elements of presentation – “Giving life to the fly”. By lifting and lowering or twitching the rod tip you can impart movement to the fly, making it act and appear different to all the other bits-n-pieces drifting past.  Movement — and I’m talking about small twitches, not stripping the fly across the surface will, in most cases, attract the attention of the trout.  Remember, trout are well-evolved predators that have to find food in a competitive environment, so any imitation drifting naturally with recognisable features, will more than likely be inspected closely.  After pricking the curiosity of the trout, you need to persuade it to take the


Catch and release is supported by the majority of flyfishers today and many riparian owners are recognising the benefits of making it one of their rules. It’s a practice I subscribe to and encourage, but I wouldn’t be honest if I did not admit to taking a few trout for the pan when the rules allow it, especially when camping out in the mountains. I do carry a small stream net, not so much that I need it, but because it’s useful for releasing the fish more safety and if I’m wanting to get a photograph.


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I keep the fish in the net, submerged, until I’m ready to photograph it minimising its time out of the water for just a few seconds. Whatever you do, don’t dump them on the bank until you have organised your camera because apart from damage and infection to their sensitive skin, being out of water for any length of time will more than likely result in them turning belly up when you are back home enjoying a cold one. Flies and fly-tying. There are literally thousands of flies to choose from imitating the natural aquatic and terrestrial insects. You don’t need to know the Latin names of them all, unless you want to – it’s not going to help you catch more fish. However, flyfishers should be able to identify the difference between the insects, what they are and the various stages of their life cycle. It will ultimately help in design and choice of fly.  The fly is the most important part of the web of illusion and deceit, designed to lure the wily trout into accepting a chemically sharpened piece of steel covered in feathers and fur. The creatures in our waterways come down to a handful of small insects.  I favour a few generic patterns that cover a range of the naturals and tied with soft, flexible and barred materials, with a just touch of flash to reflect light on some, www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


that help to create or give the illusion of movement in the water – simulating life. The insight gained from a study of the recognisable features of the insects and developing an understanding of their habits, will enable the flyfisher to create reasonable representations.  Whilst some fly-tyers aspire to exact imitations and I admire their creative ability and skills, it is not necessarily the recipe for success — the fly should rather be simple in design using the principle always of ‘form follows function’, and representative in general shape with distinguishing features, colour and size. Generally, sizes 14 and 16s are my go-to sizes all barbless, but for when they are needed, a size 12 size  or at the other end, 18s down to 22s can make a difference. I recall reading somewhere that flies should look a little like everything, but not exactly like anything. In other words, a bug of sorts. I favour starting with a dry fly because as I’ve said the trout in the fine, clear waters of our streams are seldom shy about rising to take flies drifting on the surface .  I think this has a lot to do with the fact that in these waters’ food is a little scarce and competition is fierce.  The trout will have a close look at anything resembling a bug, even if it means rising to the surface which, in these streams, is never that far away. Return to contents

Micro Flies #18 to#22 Dry flies and emergers are, without question, my favourites. Dries like the Mayfly Spinner, Adams with both parachute and conventional hackles. RAB and Para-RAB, Elk Hair Caddis, Griffiths Gnat , soft-hackle spiders and Klinkhamers. I like them to float low on the surface, preferably in the surface film and for this I have a preference for parachute styled flies and sometimes trim the flies with conventional dry fly hackles below the shank to achieve this. It is while they’re in this state that the naturals are at their most vulnerable — as they emerge from their nymphal shuck and attempt to free themselves from the tension of the meniscus.  The trout know this and watch for the easier pickings of struggling insects rather than those already on the surface ready to fly. Terrestrials like the Wolf Spider, beetles, hoppers and ants have a permanent spot in my fly box. All of these flies display silhouettes that are likely to provoke a response from the trout based on instinct and familiarity with ever-present food forms. Practical experience locally, shows that terrestrials fished subsurface are often more effective than their www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


high floating counterparts. I never leave for the mountains without both floating and sinking versions of the same flies. I treat the dry flies soon after tying with Watershed, but carry Loon Aquel or Lochsa on the stream for quick application if additional floatant is needed. Nymphs have a place in my fly box, but are limited to just a few in different weights and sizes like the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear with a red collar (the Rooinek), Flashback, PTN and Zak. I’ve said it often that all you really need is a well tied Zak. It is one of the best representative imitations of almost all of the nymphs found in our streams. For sink rate and swimming flies in fast water and deeper holes consider flies like the Perdigon and GUN. The flies I’ve included are not an exhaustive list of flies that I use, simply because I’m constantly attempting new patterns or experimenting with modifying old patterns, I suppose in the hope that one day I might stumble upon the perfect fly — an unlikely event considering the fickleness of trout. And, when all else fails.....  Return to contents

Ditch the load. Some years ago I ditched the traditional fly vest that had enough pocket space to include the kitchen sink. There were things in there that I didn’t know I had or what they were intended for. I now use a Filson belt pack for the essentials like a single fly box, preferably watertight, a couple of spools of tippet, floatant, weighted putty and strike indicator yarn. Attached to the strap of my small backpack I attach forceps, nippers and a New Zealand indicator tool. Then I have a small 10L water resistant backpack for a few extras – spare tippet, leaders, tippet rings and small Leatherman. There is enough space for a camera, snacks and drinks as well as a light rain jacket and a few first aid items. I’d suggest you consider including an amadou patch, a C&F splicing and knot tool, it makes life easy. I also carry a small tub of Loon Bio-strike putty that I use occasionally when I need a quick indicator or as a sighter for micro flies. I have only just scratched the surface of a subject with many variations and techniques, but hope that you will find my thoughts useful www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


when you’re next on a small stream or river somewhere. In my view, one of the most absorbing and fascinating aspects of this wonderful sport of ours is that it allows for so much flexibility based on your own streamside experiences and the insights gained.  My advice, for what it’s worth, is stick to what is simply a common sense, no frills approach, but remain open minded and be creative.  The key elements are to watch and take note of what’s going on in and around the stream, relax and slow down, think about what approach to use, about fly choice and decide on the type of presentation.  Through trial and error you will, over time, develop the necessary experience and skill. My thanks to Pieter Taljaard for his input and Tom Sutcliffe for reading this piece at my request and for sharing his wisdom and experience – for the discussion and adding value to my thoughts on small stream fly fishing. He finished by saying that he and Billy de Jong had shared a mantra while fishing in the North Eastern Cape many years ago, “Cast short, watch the water, watch the tippet, watch the fly, ALL IN ONE!”. Return to contents

Women In Waders How My Flyfishing Hobby Silenced the Millennial Drone In My Head Bridgette Stegen Some would say there are two types of people in this world: the dreamers and the realists. I have spent my twenty-something years of life challenging this. I am both a big dreamer and an anxiety-ridden realist. I could spend all my days getting lost in the world of MGM, Universal and DreamWorx while at the same time needing my life planned for the next ten years in edited, summarised bullet form; Times New Roman, size 12. I find myself losing more of the dreamer in me as each year passes.

ready to go teach in South Korea and I remember thinking “maybe that’s what I need to do to tick the boxes”. Enter fly-fishing. While I have always had hobbies, and at the time I was regularly playing golf, nothing had made me feel the way flyfishing did. It didn’t even take a second trip out before I felt this overwhelming sense of stability. I went to bed those first few days after our beginner experience behind the rod with so much peace. It’s hard to explain but it felt like, finally, my biggest millennial fear no longer felt significant, or even at all relevant. Suddenly I dreamt up all the new places in my hometown that I could experience this pleasure, this thrill.

One of the strangest aspects of being a millennial, of the latter years, is learning to find the balance between the dreamer and realist, the line between the world of social media and what is actually real. As I get home from my nine-to-five, slump to the couch and scroll through the perfectly edited picture blocks of other people’s lives, I wonder. Have I travelled enough? Will I be married with children before thirty? Surely I should have bought a house already? Will I really live in the small sleepy hollow of Hilton KZN forever?... and the list goes on.

I was no longer chasing the rest of the twenty-something years olds travelling the world trying to find their place, I had found mine. It was exhilarating. With this renewed perspective came a stronger relationship with my husband,-to-be a refreshed sense of appreciation for the family and friends around me, but most importantly the kick in the arse that I needed to step out of the world of ticking off the social-mediapressured-millennial-boxes that had for so long dictated my happiness.

This realism-induced anxiety really started creeping in through my mid-twenties, particularly my millennial-typical fear of being stuck where I was. Despite being in a healthy and happy relationship, surrounded by family and great friends, I felt as though if I wasn’t somewhere else, I wasn’t progressing. My younger sister was getting www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

Being out on the water has taught me so much about myself, and I am confident there is still a plethora of learnings to come. 28

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fish as quickly as humanly possible. “Not yet” I am told as I am getting ready to cast. So, painfully, I sit and wait. The fish had stopped rising I thought we had missed our chance, however, Wayne advised us to hide in cover until it comes up to feed again. The young millennial in me didn’t know how to be patient in wait for what’s to come. After what felt like an eternity Wayne says, “okay now”. The fish rose and I cast in its direction. Retrieving with the speed of the water, no takes. While I started writing this article almost nine months ago, the relevance of it is even more profound after the ordeal that 2020 has been. I think now, more so than ever that we lean on our hobbies to get us through the doubtful days. Through the confusion and anxiety that the lockdown brought, as a space to release I resorted to my river rig in the 5x3m tilapia pond in the backyard. I know for me, now more than ever, I am eternally grateful I fell in love with this sport. Ankle-deep, in leaking waders, casting at a rising fish. Is there a more peaceful place to be?

Again, I cast, this time a lot more accurately. Up the fish comes and down the fly goes. I’m on. Never a greater lesson in waiting for the right moment I have ever learnt. It was so sweet. Once again, I went to bed that night with a resounding peace. The realist in me found space for the dreamer. Time was where it was meant to be. Long may that feeling live.

To conclude my thoughts, I thought I’d summarise everything I just said with one quick fly-related story. It was one of my first trips to the Mooi, in fact I think it was my first. My brother, instead of choosing to join the boys up the river, decided to guide myself and Sindi McBain. That’s just the kind of guy he is. I had no idea what I was doing so his gesture and advice was invaluable to me. After a spectacularly exciting walk along the banks of the river Wayne turns to me and says, “your turn”. He spots a rising fish in a deeper pool just up ahead of us and immediately we follow his lead into stealth mode. Near-leopard crawling to a castable spot, we settle amongst the taller grass for extra cover. Lack of experience and the “have it all now” default mode told me to get the line into the water and at the rising www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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Photo: Clem Booth

Heritage Flies - Part 9 The GUN. Peter Brigg Until now in these articles I have covered those patterns that have some historical significance locally or more modern variants of the earlier creations. All have being more or less unique to South Africa either as fly that has become well-known locally or because of its tying style and material used.

amongst our heritage flies. It is a perfect example of the important element of fly tying that form should follow function. The GUN evolved out of Gary’s GForce nymph that in itself went through a process of evolution to arrive at an effective, durable imitation of mayfly nymphs in particular the most common Baetis species, but also serves to imitate black fly larva and midge pupa in small size #18 to 20. However, Gary wanted to add movement triggers and incorporated fine spandex for the tail and legs. He also changed from the standard nymph hooks and dry fly hooks for small sizes on the GForce, to jig hooks on the GUN.

It’s appropriate to cover from time to time, a more modern fly pattern that is deserving of recognition for its popularity and as a good fly. As with changes in the techniques and styles of fly fishing, the evolution or adaptation of new fly creations generally follow to satisfy these changes. For these reasons its fitting that Gary Glen-Young’s GUN should be the first to be included www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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The name came about on a day when he was fishing with Herman Botes. Gary was doing well with his prototype and Herman commented that it had “all the triggers” The GUN was born.

fished as a point fly with a size or two smaller GForce as the upper fly on a French/Euronymphing leader. Since it uses a standard or oversized tungsten bead, the greatest amount of the weight of the flies on the leader is concentrated in the GUN.

The GUN is Gary’s heavy nymph pattern intended to imitate Leptophlebiidae and other of the larger mayfly nymphs and stoneflies. In the small sizes #18 to 20 its a very good imitation of the Tricos. Gary commented to the effect, “ I generally fish this fly in black and brown, but some waters the GUN fishes better in silver and black, while on others the Golden Gun works better with gold or brown beads. There are lots of UV elements, with additional movement in the flexible tail and legs that give the perception of life to the fly.”

It is thus tied on a jig hook to have it swim most of the time upside down, making it less likely to hook up on the bottom. For this reason when fishing pocket water, it can be used as a dropper below a dry fly.” Gary is very particular about the materials used in his flies, all having undergone periods of prototype experimentation and testing. The following is a list of the materials he recommends for the GUN. For the tying process, it is suggested that you search Google for, The GUN Jig fly pattern by Gary Glen-Young.

He went on to say, “this fly is generally

Photo: Andrew Mather www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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Photo: James Pereira

Dressing for the GUN Hook – Grip 14037BL or Fasna F-420. Good alternatives are the Dohiku HDJ and Fulling Mill Jig Force Barbless. Bead - Silver slotted tungsten bead. Thread - Nanosilk 50 denier in white. Tail - Hareline Daddy Long Legs (Spanflex) in black. Thorax - Hareline Ice Dub - UV Black. Body - 1604 or 3204 UV flashabou coloured top and sides with a black permanent marker, then coated with a fine UV resin. Butt (optional) - Fluorescent thread in chartreuse. Wing case - 1604 or 3204 UV Flashabou coated with a fine layer of UV resin. Recommended hook and bead sizes #14 3,5mm Tungsten #16 3,0mm Tungsten #18 2,5mm Tungsten For Golden GUN, change the bead & wire colour to gold, UV Ice Olive Brown for thorax, hot orange butt and brown spanflex. The GUN is a very good fly, effective and well-designed based on Gary’s experience and trial and error, it incorporates important fish attracting features triggers. A fly that should be included in every fly fishers fly box. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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The Feather Mechanic A Book Review by Ian Cox Now and again a book comes along that changes the rules of the game. Gordon Van Der Spuy’s “The Feather Mechanic” is such a book. Those who have been privileged to have attended Gordon’s flytying courses or who have seen his DVD Fundamental Fly Tying will know of his passion for the idea that form follows function.

He then expands on his story chatting as if over a beer about what works and what doesn’t and, most importantly, why. I have read much of want has been written about fly designs and the basics do or don’ts of flyfishing. But no one, I can think of, has done it as brilliantly and briefly as Gordon does in chapter 1 of his book. It is a masterpiece of dense summation and makes this book a treasure, if for nothing else.

But this book is much more than that and indeed much more than any flytying book you will have ever read before. Gordon is not only a superb fly tyer, he is also a superb communicator. So, it should come as no surprise that this book is as entertaining as it is informative.

When I spoke to him about writing this review, he warned me that the next three chapters which deal with the basic tools, materials, and mechanics made for dry reading. Nothing could be further from the truth, even for those who have looked at this stuff a hundred times before. The genius of the first chapter is replicated in the brilliance of his insights in these later chapters. Gordon is both wise and entertaining.

Flytying books are not meant to be pageturners, but this one is. Written in Gordon’s unique vernacular style, it does not just tell you how, it also explains why, while at the same time expressing Gordon’s tremendous enthusiasm for life.

But he leaves the best for last. A good two-thirds of the book is devoted to tying various patterns. But again, this is no ordinary recipe book. Each pattern is revealed as a story that engages the reader in a way that learning about the pattern becomes a conversation with Gordon. He starts with the good stuff, what caused the pattern to catch his notice and why and how he fishes it. T he pattern itself is a postscript to this conversation, revealed to you intimately using Gordon’s sketches and handwritten notes. It is as if he is standing over your shoulder, helping you through the process.

It has been said that knowledge can be described as the process of piling up facts, but wisdom lies in their simplification. Gordon’s knowledge of his subject is at a level where he has made it all seem so effortlessly simple. Gordon writes of tying flies as a story. And like all good stories, he starts at the beginning with his own childhood. He speaks of memories that will warm the cockles of any person who has tied flies from childhood. But in doing so he also encourages the newbie. Everybody, even the very best, starts at the beginning making do with very little but nonetheless while still having fun. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

But above all else, this is a happy book. Gordon says it all when he writes: 35

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“Fly tying, I’ve come to appreciate, is not just about tying flies. Fly tying is about dreaming. It’s total therapy. I disappear to my happy place when I’m tying. A place where my mind can breathe. I see the fly in the drift whilst I’m tying it and I’m transported back to the river. I usually find myself propelled to go fishing after a good tying session. That’s where the fun with this stuff lies. Going to the river. Getting skunked. Going home. Tying up something that you think will work. Going back to the river and doing it all over again. The next time hopefully with a measure of success.”


The Feather Mechanic will be available mid-November. For more information check out Gordon’s Instagram account, thefeathermechanic. Alternatively visit his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ gordon.vanderspuy You can contact Gordon directly at gordon.vanderspuy@gmail.com"It The book will also be available at fly fishing shops in RSA or from Coch-y-Bonddu Books https://www.anglebooks.com/


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How To Plan Your River Flybox Gary Glen-Young

A favourite pastime of many fly anglers is looking in the fly boxes of others. Whether this is for inspiration, denigration or flagellation depends upon the circumstances.

During the fishing day, when one particular fly seems to be working better than others, heaven forbid that the angler loses the second last example of the fly in the box! That last “magic” fly is treated almost as too precious to allow near a nasty fish. Tippet sizes are even scaled up to prevent the possible loss of the precious and it cannot be fished too far away, lest it becomes lost. Casts become tentative and fish become few and far between.

SHOCK! GASP! HORROR! The most common response I get when a new acquaintance looks in my boxes is surprise. They are shocked at both how few different patterns I carry and how full my fly boxes are. The reason for this is because when I fish a pattern I carry a lot of them in different sizes. Almost every time I look in another anglers’ boxes I am taken aback by the myriad of different patterns being used. I'm also often dismayed by the lack of organisation. My most common observation is that the average fly angler has no plan for their fly box – there are too many patterns, some very similar to each other. Only a few flies of any single pattern can be found in the box and often in only one or maybe two sizes.

Nassssty fishes!

The solution is to carry only those flies you will choose to use, but carry enough of them, arranged in an orderly fashion, to make fly selection quick and easy.

When questioned about which flies they actually fish they can usually indicate a small selection of the options available, glossing over large swaths of the box as “old flies”, “works sometimes”, “just in case” or even “I don’t remember where those came from”.

I like to keep it simple and carry a single nymph box and a single dry fly box. (OK maybe another small box with “junk” flies like squirmies, mops and whatnots that don’t really fit the main boxes and would be offensive to non-lure anglers, but that’s it).

Previous page: The average anglers’ fly box (owner's identity withheld to protect the ignorant)



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good nymph box for the angler who carries fewer flies.

Empty all the flies out of all your existing fly boxes. Yes – all of them. We are starting with a blank slate.

I would not recommend you pick a foam box with less than twenty slits per row or a silicon box with less than ten slits per row – you want to keep the same flies together in the same row in the box.

Separate the nymphs/wets/sinking flies from the dry flies into two big piles.

I have lost too many small dry flies while digging for the “right” fly when using compartment-style boxes for dry flies to recommend them.

Sort the fly piles into the following groups – be brutal about it: •

KEEP – these are the flies that you always find yourself using and often wish there were more in the box. We will come back to these… SCRAP – the fly has had its day. Maybe it has lost its hackle, but you can still reuse the hook. Nice bead, horrible body – snap the eye off and recycle the tungsten. GIVE AWAY – to friends who will not read this article but will drink your alcohol and fish your flies without permission or questions. THROW AWAY – responsibly, as in a sealed container, in the dark, in a bin somewhere not close to home. (What were you thinking???)

If your existing boxes will still do, give them a service – wash them with warm water and an old toothbrush, then allow them to fully dry. Do NOT use a hairdryer, unless you want to buy a replacement. Give the seal a small coat of silicone grease. SAME SAME, BUT DIFFERENT Pick your favourite patterns from the KEEP pile. We all have them. They vary from angler to angler for many different reasons but if you have confidence in a pattern you will fish it better, with more focus, and are likely to catch more fish.

(NEW) FLY BOX? Maybe this is your opportunity to justify a new fly box? If your existing fly boxes are old and tatty perhaps you should get a waterproof one with either silicone or foam slots. I prefer medium to large boxes with a good seal. My nymph box has twenty-four to thirty foam slits per row with nine rows per side and comes with a hard double-sided flap. With smaller flies, I pack them in every slit in a row. For larger, wider flies I skip a foam slit, thus I get half as many flies per row.

Everyone has their favourite

Separate these patter ns into their respective sizes – identify the sizes of the flies you use. Make a note of ones that you are completely out of; an obviously-popularwith-the-fish size.

My dry fly silicon box has fourteen slits per row and twelve rows per side. This allows more space for the hackles. It also makes a www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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Now squint at the box - pretend it’s 4AM on a work night and that you woke up to go to the bathroom, but are still asleep. When you look at the patterns you’ve decided to keep this way you may find that, when half in focus, a number of them look very similar to one another. Rather than using very similar-looking patterns, it is better to have distinct separations between the patterns so that they are distinctly different from one another.

of the flow. Pick those flies with the standard beads that work for your fishing and recycle the rest. At the end of this, you should be left with a handful of distinct patterns from one another with little to no overlap in fly colour and with standardised bead sizes and colours.

Pay attention to different fly styles – caddis larvae are separate from mayfly nymphs, which are separate from tagnymphs which are separate from small streamers. Caddis dries are similar to hoppers, but are very different to parachute mayflies, which are in turn distinct from shuttlecocks and midges. My caddis patterns tend to run #14-18 while my mayflies are generally #16-20. For each style, I like to have a dark/ black pattern, a light/tan pattern and then sometimes a brown or olive pattern – so two or three colours per style.

Highlander had four sequels

Now, for these flies, you want a selection of two or three sizes This allows you to have a good size range to cover the naturals you will encounter. If there is a primary size that you use more than the others then you logically want more of those flies in the box.

I like to standardise bead colours. Too many other anglers’ boxes I open have hot orange beads across too many different flies but not enough copper , silver or gold.


Pick a pattern or two to carry these brightly coloured beads and keep the rest of the beads more muted. The Czechs like to group flies into “naturals”, “attractors” and “wilds”. You want a lot more natural patterns and attractor patterns than wilds in your box. Where flies are close or very similar, pick the one you normally gravitate in the KEEP pile.

Now is the time to pull out a pen and a page of A4/graph paper. A spreadsheet also works. Count the number of slits per row in the box, as well as the number of rows. Then count how many distinctly different patterns you are going to carry. Decide how many of each you want to have with you on the water. If I really like a pattern, I will carry twelve to fifteen of them in a single size and colour, which is often a full row.

You have the option of standardising bead sizes as well. My preference for bead sizes is 3.5mm on a #14, 3.0mm on a #16, 2.5mm on a #18 and 2.0mm on a #20. If I want to change the sink rate I change the fly size and this changes the bead size. This is simple and prevents confusion on the water, in the heat www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

With smaller nymph patterns I tend to carry 40% of the primary size and 30% each of the other two sizes, often all in the same row. 41

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Prototypes/experimental flies get a row of their own and normally five flies of a pattern. Ensure that they do not take over the box or you will end up where you started.

While this article is directed more at those anglers who tie their own flies it does also apply to those who purchase their flies. Anglers who buy flies are a little more limited in their options but should try at least to purchase the right numbers of the same flies, from the same supplier and at the same time to ensure consistency.

When you find a new pattern you prefer to an existing pattern, remove the existing one from the box – you are not going to fish it in any case.

I keep my extra standard nymphs and dries in a separate overflow box. These carry anywhere up to five extra flies of any of my standard patterns in a size.

TIE (or BUY) Tie in multiples of five of the same pattern in a single size at a time.

When I lose a few flies from the fishing box I replace them from the overflow box. In this way I don’t have to tie flies in dribs and drabs, something that is very inefficient.

Start with the larger sizes, then work down to the smaller ones. This approach allows you to become more proficient in your tying and helps avoid distractions when tying. Tying a lot of the same pattern at the same time also means less material waste and more flies per hour. You will be shocked at how much time you waste by changing between different patterns, looking for the correct materials etc.

If there are not enough flies in the overflow box to fill the fishing box I make a note of these and then will tie five (or maybe ten) of the pattern to fill up the fishing box, with the excess going into the overflow box. I hope this helps!

"If I really like a pattern, I will carry twelve to fifteen of them in a single size and colour -which is often a full row."



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The backup box: Flies are tied in multiples of each pattern and size for reasons of efficiency They are transferred from this box to the main box when required.

Smaller nymph patterns: 40% of the primary size and 30% each of the other two sizes All of these in one row

THE MASTER ROD BUILDER CATCHING UP WITH DEREK SMITH Derek Smith has been part of the South African flyfishing community for longer than many of us who use his fine hand-built rods can remember.

and flyfishing has helped me survive twentysix years at the bank. SAFFM: Where did your flyfishing journey begin?

I first heard the name when a friend was showing off a high-end imported rod and someone in crowd said “that thing is kak you should’ve got Derek to build it”. Since then I’ve had the pleasure to own a few rods that he’s built and to have seen or fished with many, many more.

DS: I’ve always loved fishing. My father used to fish a bit and I remember fishing with him once or twice for carp and again when we went down to the coast. I started flyfishing in 1981 at the age of twenty. As a student we went down to Royal Natal National Park and I’ve been flyfishing crazy since then.

We recently had the opportunity to fish with Derek for small and largescale yellowfish for a few days. Spending time with the man and picking his brain on all matters relating to rods, reels and lines was both fun and educational. But the education didn’t end there - he schooled us out on the river by landing what was comfortably the biggest fish of the week.

SAFFM: And rods? You’re a damned fine angler but we suspect that your name is forever fated to be associated with rods and rod making. DS: In the early days I bought a lot of different types of fly rods, upgrading all the time, but I certainly went through a bunch of crummy rods, reels and lines back then.

We caught up with Derek to talk family, pending retirement and his love affair with rod building.

I started building in 1987. The first rod that I ever built was an Orvis 7’9” two-weight that I bought as a kit from Roger Baert at The Flyfisherman. Roger helped me quite a lot in the early days and certainly contributed to me taking on flyfishing rod building.

SAFFM: You’re a household name, a brand, really. Who is Derek Smith? DS: I’ve been married to Delene for about thirty years. We have two kids, Gavin (28) and Megan (24). I met my wife at varsity and went out with her for some years before we got married.

SAFFM: The Flyfisherman was really central to a lot of the growth of the sport back then.

Before that I studied chemistry, information systems and business management. I’ve worked for Standard Bank for the last twenty-six years and retire during the course of next year. I’m looking forward to retirement - it’s been a long haul at Standard Bank, but I think that rod building www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

DS: I remember looking forward to receiving The Flyfisherman catalogue and they certainly made quite a contribution to the early days of my flyfishing career. I built quite a few Orvis rods, mostly for myself and


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friends but to be honest they were horrible rods. They were very heavy and really sloppy.

for thirty years you’ve got to be passionate about it. SAFFM: What goes into building a rod? We all have them and love them but I don’t think that it’s something that we think about much or have a real appreciation for.

I remember when I saw my first Sage rod at Laxton’s up in Johannesburg and I was completely blown away by it. I’ve had a love affair with Sage rods ever since.

DS: The basic rod building steps are turning inserts for reel seats, turning grips, wrapping the guides and varnishing.

SAFFM: How many Sages do you think you’ve built? DS: I estimate that I’ve built about 2200 Sage rods over the last thirty years.

I’ve turned my own reel seats inserts for probably the last twenty-five years. With regard to cork, I’ve always turned my own cork grips other than the few Orvis rods that I made in the early years.

SAFFM: Holy smokes! At replacement cost that’s more than <checks his calculator twice> R20million in fly rods!

Wrapping the guides is probably the most laborious bit of the process. It takes quite a bit of time - probably about two hours to wrap a complete rod end-to-end and then the varnish takes about an hour per coat. There’s another hour between first and second coat where you have to clean up the wraps.

DS: Well, I’ve been building fly rods for over thirty years now. Mostly Sage, but also Scott, Winston, TFO, G Loomis, Loop and more recently Epic and CTS. After thirty years I’m still passionate about rod building. I think that to do something



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Derek, Horst Filter & a trophy smallscale yellowfish



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SAFFM: Is getting quality materials harder? Natural resources are under some pressure these days.

use a two-component epoxy varnish, Flexcoat, and something called RodDancer which is also very good. What I do these days is that I extract the bubbles out of the varnish on the second coat using a vacuum system. This ensures that the varnish is completely clear and that no bubbles appear in the varnish once it’s set.

DS: I’ve been collecting exotic wood for as long as I’ve been turning my own inserts. I’ve got wood from all over the world - Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, the USA - so I’ve got tons of exotic wood for inserts. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of rod building.

Varnishing is quite tricky. I think that varnish sets one rod apart from the next and if you look at your great production rods like Winston, Sage or Scott one of the things that sets them apart from the rest is the quality of the varnishing. It makes or breaks a rod.

I’ve been bringing in cork for the last twenty-five years, or maybe a bit longer, and one thing for sure is that the quality of cork has gone down over the years while the price has increased. One can still get some very good cork out of Portugal, but it costs quite a bit.

SAFFM: Who out there over time has consistently made the best mass-produced rods?

SAFFM: How much time do you invest into a build?

DS: Some of the best factory rods are, I think, Sage, Scott and Winston, from a production build point of view. Some of the worst are probably TFO and Loomis. I think that Loomis in particular has comprised on the cork quite a lot and their varnishing is not too good either.

DS: Overall a rod probably takes about eight hours from start to finish. An hour for the reel seat, half an hour for the cork, two hours to wrap and two hours to varnish with maybe an hour in between. Another half an hour to finish up with some polishing of the finished rod, doing the rod tube, getting the rod bag ready and that sort of thing. So, yes, about eight hours allin-all.

SAFFM: What has changed over the years in terms of rod design? You’ve seen literally thousands of blanks pass through your shop and must have noticed trends changing.

SAFFM: Have you peaked at some point? In terms of the process did you reach a point where you said to yourself that this is as good as it will ever get?

DS: There’s no doubt that over the last couple of years rods have become faster and faster.

DS: Over the years I think that I’ve tried to improve my rod building. Each year I’ve tried to take on something new, some new aspect of the process of rod building.


DS: I think that it’s probably to the detriment of fishing enjoyment. There’s no doubt that a medium/fast action rod is the best overall from a fishing enjoyment and casting ability point of view.

I think that over time the area that I’ve improved most is the cork work. Some of my early grips were not very special but I pride myself on my cork work now as being some of the best. Varnishing I’ve also improved over time. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

Are they better for it?

As rods have got faster over time it has made it quite difficult for new flyfishers entering the sport to try to get an understanding of how to match a rod and a line.

I 48

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I think that some rod manufacturers have confused fast action versus stiff rods and I think Sage in particular has done this, especially if you look at some of their saltwater rods. I don’t think that they’re as fast as stiff so on some of their rods you could actually argue that you could throw a nine weight line with a seven weight rod. I think that that further confuses fishermen.

The wall thickness in the tip section was just under a millimetre, which is just absolutely crazy by modern standards.

Just a short comparison; I had a couple of mates cast an old Sage RPL blank. It’s probably about twenty-five years old (I have a couple of old rods or blanks around still). We compared that to the Sage X and I must say that in terms of the sweetness of the blank the RPL was just as good as the X. The only difference was that the RPL was a fair bit heavier.

DS: I do have two customers who break more than anyone else. Horst [Fliter] ,but I guess he fishes a lot, and another customer who doesn't look after rods - he has broken 3 rods in electric windows alone.

SAFFM: Do you do a lot of repairs? Are there some guys that are just more prone to breaking rods than anyone else? There must be a few perpetually clumsy guys out there.

I've had boats, dogs, horses, kids, electric fans, etc. break rods, but the craziest was a friend of mine who twice left his tip section on the roof of his car .

I think that what has happened is that as carbon has got stiffer over the years the wall thickness has become thinner and thinner so you’re getting a similar action rod, but it’s a lot lighter. As a compromise for the lightness you’re getting so many more rods breaking because the wall thickness is so much thinner. I did a fourpiece conversion on an old Orvis Western series, a rod of at least twenty-five to thirty years old. In the tip section the wall thickness was so great that I could hardly put a spigot in to complete the four-piece conversion.

SAFFM: I have a friend who lost the third section each of two different fairly collectible old Orvis rods on consecutive weekends and who broke a new rod before he even fished them - once in New Zealand and once in Slovenia. Some guys have a knack for it or something. Luckilly we don't travel light. How many rods do you own?

DS: I have about fifteen rods (CTS, Epic, Sage and Scott) and thirty reels (Shilton and Galvan). SAFFM: And are you a reel nut? Do you like the bench made stuff and oddities? We just love them and can never understand people who don’t.

An acrylic reel seat insert to match a Galvan reel www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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DS: I have a sickness for reels - I c u r re n t l y o w n t w e n t y G a l v a n s . I ' v e previously owned Abels, Ross, Hardy and Hatch but sold them to upgrade. The reels I should never have sold... Ross San Miguel 1, 2 and 3. They were ten years ahead of their time.

like tastes in cars. I just received a Tom Morgan 8' 4wt fibreglass blank to build for a customer. It's such an awesome blank… SAFFM: Oh really? He’s got a huge reputation. Is it good? Do you like glass? I don’t. Not because it isn’t good, necessarily, but because it feels like another thing to buy and not fish much.

SAFFM: Is there a rod that you’ve sold that you regret? We all have one or two of those. DS:

Definitely my Sage Z-Axis 490-4.

DS: Glass rods are quite niche, I like them, but their application is limited. 7' and 7'6" 3/4 at is their sweet spot. I prefer them to cane rods.

SAFFM: You must get really tired of everyone wanting to talk rods with you. We're really geeking out here - surely it bores you by now?

SAFFM: You’ve run parallel careers, in a way, for decades. It must have kept you busy and it looks as though it’s made you happy. You’re not going to stop making rods anytime soon, but what are your retirement plans?

DS: Not at all. I'm passionate about tackle and enjoy talking tackle. What makes it interesting is that taste in tackle is very much a personal thing...

A CTS Affinity X built to perfection www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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DS: Absolutely. One thing I've done well is to separate work and hobbies. You have to build lots of rods to pay for varsity.

syndicate in Nottingham Road and I'm visiting Highland lodge at the end of October. But post-retirement I plan to go back to New Zealand, Chile and Slovenia.

I must admit it is a little daunting after having been in corporate life for more than thirty-five years. Having said that it's time to go. Maybe I should have retired at fifty-five.

SAFFM: Well, we wish you tight lines for retirement. Thanks for being such a credit to flyfishing in Southern Africa. You are an ambassador for everything that is great about the sport and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re grateful for your time and insights.

I retire in March next year. I plan to rod build full time, fish and travel. I have a sister in law in Germany and brother in US. Travel is a priority. The last place I fished was Hastings

Exotic burl on traditional cork www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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John Gierach's Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers A Review "I have only one friend that I've known for as longs as I've fished my home water. We don't see that much of each other anymore, but when we do get together - usually to go fishing - we pick right up in the middle of a nearly halfcentury-long conversation that will end only with one of our funerals." When you’re the guy who coined the phrase ‘Trout Bum’ and who writes titles like ‘Sex, Death and Fly-Fishing’ you probably need very little by way of introduction. From his adopted home in Lyons, Colorado, John Gierach has penned hundreds of essays, columns and articles and has for decades been one of the standout writers of his generation. Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers is his twentieth book and is a collection of essays written in his familiar, easy-going and accessible style. Of his twenty books several are more technical in content (he has co-authored four books with A.K. Best in addition to his own) but it is in this format that he shines.

with more tender subjects like the nature of enduring frienships and the passing of a close friend. He does this with elegance and without self-pity. As a reviewer on Goodreads remarked, it is “Brilliant, sparse prose that tells you exactly what you need to know but nothing you don’t”. The book features cover art by Bob White and is as satisfying to look at as it is to read. Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers is quintessentially Gierach and is comfortably some of his best work. We asked some friends for their impressions of the book. Clem Booth tells us that;

Gierach has a unique sense of humour and a shrewd and insightful way of seeing the world. Tom McGuane, himself no literary slouch, comments that “John Gierach gives us fishing as the alert life; people, places and rivers seen by a first-rate noticer whose amiable disposition never alarms the prey.” In this book he deals with the usual ironies and idiosyncrasies of the flyfisher but also www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


“John Gierach isn’t at all like Marmite. He doesn’t seem to divide opinion among fly fishers although, in common with other legends, in the nicest possible way, he is opinionated. Happily so; Gierach is no wallflower, and he says what he thinks which is just the way I like it. Within the pantheon of fly fishing writers, he is near the summit, a master of the craft of the wordsmith. Return to contents

"I have all his books and the latest, “Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers”, moves the bar up yet another notch. Gierach expresses his life on the pages; as his adventures have matured, changed, evolved over so many years, we get to walk alongside him. Whether extolling the special nature of fishing for muskies or in pursuit of the magnificent brook trout of Labrador, Gierach takes you along and you share the intimacy of the moment. Climbing ladders at Pyramid Lake in an attempt to catch one of the giant cutthroat trout sounds like fun: I happen to know the top guide he mentions in the book and am now more determined than ever to try it! John Gierach is a great author. A century from now, fly fishers will read his books and they will retain a timeless relevance. If you don’t have it, get it soon! It’s a wonderful read.” Peter Brigg notes; “I don’t recall when I read my first John Gierach book, but it was many years ago. I was captivated then with his writing and have been a fan ever since. His latest book, ’Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers’ is vintage Gierach. In his inimitable style and reflective of an enquiring mind, it is insightful, droll and laced with astute observations, a joy to read. It’s an absorbing collection of narrative essays with fly fishing at the core. He writes with restraint and honesty, elegantly drawing the reader into his experiences and slants towards being a metaphor for life. His stories in this book capture the essence of each experience that are as diverse as his thoughts on the original Adams, fishing dogs, 10 inch brookies in backcountry streams to a ferocious 47lb muskie from the Wisconsin River, eating in questionable diners in onehorse towns somewhere in the Rockies to an unexpected inheritance and buying houses in Colorado.


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Reading passages like this one cannot but help the feeling of being there, of seeing what he sees, of feeling what he feels, ‘I was cold, bored, hungry, and fishless, but there was still nowhere else I’d have rather been— something anyone who fishes will understand.‘ I rest my case.” Andrew Mather says: "There are only a few flyfishing authors still writing that are as recognisable as John Gierach. A former hippie turned writer, he set his heart on surviving off his flyfishing writings. His latest book, “Dumb luck and the kindness of strangers” is his twentieth to date. I’d say he’s been successful! While most of us flyfishers will buy and read his books because of this aspect, Gierach doesn’t spend that much time enthusing about the act of fishing. He takes the reader, fisher or not, into an imaginary world of what really matters in life. He has a keen sense of observation and inevitably share his views and observations on people, wildlife, tax, sex, life and mortality. This mix of subjects threaded through his writing creates the backdrop to the antidotes and inevitable diversions to the fishing. Gierach doesn’t appear to fish with too many people. Well if you read his books, you’ll see what I mean. He seems to keep to a smaller circle of close fishing buddies which many of us can relate to. Within this close circle of fellow fishers, he humorously weaves his stories around the hardships and triumphs they experience. In Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers Gierach has managed to put out a refreshingly new set of stories that captivate the reader in such a way that we are transported right into the story. You’ll be taken in by his honesty, humour and perspective, mixed in with a few profanities, which makes for riveting reading. Return to contents

Gierach writes in such a way that it appeals to all level of flyfishers. Perhaps that’s his greatest talent and, of course, splashing the canvas with bright tales of life experiences. He once said that ”The poor son of a bitch doesn’t fish enough” - well if you can’t go fishing then reading Gierach is the next best thing!" Andrew Fowler concludes: "Publishing a collection of essays gives the writer the freedom to vary his style and approach with each essay: to mix it up a bit. That is a refreshing place to be as a writer. It frees you from the burden of trying to stay true to a story’s creative cinematic, it’s feel and it’s rhythm. John Gierach’s many books are almost all collections of essays. The delight for the reader in this, is that each chapter, read before turning in at night, gives the one a fresh and novel perspective upon which to mull as he or she drifts off. Add to that the quality of John Gierach’s writing, and you have yourself a fantastic escape into the delights of flyfishing and everything that it means to so many of us. Gierach’s latest book, Dumb Luck, and the Kindness of Strangers, is no different. I was however asked if it was better than any of his other books, or how it compared, and given that this one too is a collection of essays, I found that particularly difficult to answer. The book is wonderful. Is it better than this one or that one? I have no idea, and I was too busy wallowing in the pleasing prose to care for the comparative exercise. I will say that I found the opening chapter of this latest book of his to be fairly defining of where Gierach would be in his life journey, and his fly-fishing life. He mentions a book by Donald Hall about life after the age of eighty, and he takes us through a more clear chronology of his own life, written in the way of one looking back thoughtfully to consider where he has been. He also introduces us to a family member, Paul, whom he takes fishing, and he gets the reader to befriend www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

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John Gierach, Photograph by Michael Dvorak him, in the way that you sometimes introduce one fishing friend to another. Later, he writes of Paul’s death. Gierach has always been great at dwelling on the aesthetics of memories, without being a soppy nostalgic, and even as he grows older, he continues to pull this off. Beyond the first chapter you find him trying new things, meeting new people, duffing fish, and being as receptive to learning new things as he always has been. In fact, if anything, I sense just a little more humility, and nonjudgmental acknowledgement of modern anglers and their ways. As old and experienced as he is in the sport, he has dodged the self-righteous, trap of condescension, and kept the door of acceptance wide open. In his last chapter he relates how he fishes with a young guide who is bristling with GoPro cameras. He manages to convey that it is not his thing, and he is just a little pleased when the footage doesn’t work out, but not in a way that dismisses his host in any way. The man is a master. Don’t buy this book of his. Buy them all."

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DIE McNAB UITDAGING FFF SAFARIS Die McNab uitdaging het sy oorsprong in die 1925 boek geskryf deur John Buchan. Sy karakter, John McNab, die dekmantel of skuil naam vir drie Edelmanne wat opsoek was na avontuur. Sir Edward Leithen, John Palliser-Yeates en Lord Lamancha. “John McNab” stuur toe ʼn waarskuwing aan drie van die Skotse Hoogland Landgoed dat 'n salm en 'n rooi dam hert op die landgoed gevang en gejag sal word sonder dat hulle gevang sou word binne 48 uur. Die uitdaaging het gegroei oor die jare in gewildheid, nie net in Brittanje nie maar ook

hier by ons in Suid Afrika ʼn McNab uitdaging het groot aanklank vind by jagters en hengelaars. ‘n Royal McNab by FFF Safari’s word gedoen binne die tyd perk van son op tot son sak op die selfde dag. Dit bestaan uit ʼn jag voël soos ʼn tarentaal, fisant of eend wat met die haelgeweer in die lug geskiet moet word. ‘n blesbok of swartwildebees wat te voet gejag moet word en dan ʼn forel wat met die vlieg stok gevang moet word. Dit alles moet gebeur in die maande van Mei tot Augustus elke jaar, spesifiek om seker te maak ons jag voëls broei nie meer nie.

Dit word duidelik aan die deel nemers gestel dat die McNab uitdaging net dit is ‘n uitdaging en nie ʼn onderlinge kompetisie tussen mekaar nie. Ons vat elke been van die uitdaging soos dit kom en ons doen elke gedeelte voluit om vir die deelnemers die beste moontlike kans te gee om die Royal McNab of McNab te voltooi. Dit beteken dat ek as gids nie net die gids is nie, maar tyd meester wat baie mooi die horlosie moet dop hou, “afrigter” en sielkundige wat baie keer moet mooi praat om die deelnemers gemotiveerd te hou - en nog baie meer.

ʼn Gewone McNab bestaan uit die selfde maar soos die oorspronklike storie word dit oor twee dae gedoen. Daar is baie verskillende weergawes van die McNab uitdaging in Suid Afrika, veral in die Oos Kaap waar dit baie gewild is. Bok spesies wissel van springbok, blesbok, swartwildebeeste en takbokke (fallow deer). Die voëls wat gejag word is geklassifiseer as jag voëls spesies en wissel van bosveld fisant (swainsons spurfowl), Natalse fisant (Natal spurfowl), rooivlerk patrys (red-winged francolin), berg patrys (grey-winged francolin), geelbek eend (yellow-billed duck) of kolgans (Egyptian goose). Die vis is normaalweg ʼn forel wat met vlieghengel uitrusting gevang word in strome of damme.

Om ʼn McNab suksesvol te kan voltooi moet n deelnemer behendig wees met drie fasette. Haelgeweer skiet / jag. Geweer of boog jag en vlieg hengel.

Ons fokus by FFF Safaris egter om so hard as moontlik te werk om die deelnemers ʼn geleentheid te gee om die McNab te voltooi, maar dat die deelnemers dit moet geniet.

Baie deelnemers sal vertel dat hulle gereeld kleiduiwe skiet of selfs duiwe op sonneblom lande. Ons verduidelik egter nog steeds die basiese beginsels van haelgeweer skiet en dat dit bitter belangrik is om jou skoot deur te volg en nie te stop met die swaai van die hael geweer as die skoot geskiet word nie. Met manne wat gewoond is aan klei duiwe skiet verduidelik ek vir hulle die deur volg as n BBB – BANG.... Die voorste korrel van die haelgeweer moet van agter deur die voel swaai. Eerste moet jy die (Bum) sien, dan die (Belly) en dan die (Beak) en dan voor die (Beak) deur swaai en dan die sneller druk en bly deur volg.



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Ons jag voëls spesies lyk bedrieglik groot en stadig as hulle vlieg maar ʼn haelgeweer skut moet wakker wees om sy skoot te laat tel.

nie baie op konsessie beskikbaar nie. Die meeste jagters is daar aan gewoond om ʼn blesbok of swartwildebeest van die jag voertuig af te skiet. Dit gebeur egter nie by ons nie. Die bokke word gejag op die voete en is ʼn groot uitdaaging hier op die platorand. Skote wissel van 80-200m.

Spesies soos ʼn tarentaal laat ʼn jagter hard werk om naby genoeg te kom voor ons ʼn skoot skiet want hulle hardloop dat dit bars as hulle onraad vermoed. Ander spesies soos ons fisante en patryse sal sit en wag tot ons amper op hulle trap voor hulle onder ons voete uit ontplof. Die jagter moet dan oor sy skrik kom en ʼn akkurate skoot geskiet kan kry. Die water voëls kan ook ʼn groot uitdaging wees om op die regte plek langs die water stelling in te neem vroeg oggend om naby genoeg te wees om ʼn skoot geskiet te kry. Menige maal het ek gesien hoe die jagters dan agter die jag voëls verby skiet want hulle kan baie bedrieglik vlieg.

Met die forel hengel weet ons wat vlieglyn gooi vir forel dat die vis baie vol dinge kan wees. Veral in die winter maande wanneer die koue fronte oor die land gerol kom en dan nie net sterk koue weste winde bring, baie keer tot 40km/h plus, maar ook die barometer wat vinnig op en af laat beweeg. Dit alles het ʼn groot invloed op die vis en soms maak dit nie saak hoe hard ʼn deelnemer probeer en watter vlieg gegooi word nie, die vis wil eenvoudig net nie saam speel nie. Die Uitdaging

Wanneer dit kom met die bok jag hier in die Dullstroom omgewing word daar ʼn blesbok of swart wildebees gejag. Takbok is baie op aanvraag maar ongelukkig het ons www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

Ons begin die middag voor die uitdaging wanneer die deelnemers op die plaas aankom. 58

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Rustig uit pak en dan gaan skiet ons gou die gewere in op die 100m baan. Hier laat ek die deelnemers oor stabiele skiet stokke skiet sodat ek as gids myself kan vergewis van die deelnemer se skiet vermoë en ons gebruik die geleentheid om die deelnemers rustig te kry en seker te maak hulle gewere is in gestel. Sou die deelnemers dit versoek kan ons dan ook ʼn paar klei duiwe met die hael gewere skiet.

se eerste lig op die horison verskyn.

FFF Safaris gebruik dan ook die geleentheid om die deelnemers bietjie agtergrond oor die area te gee en dan ook die verrigtinge van die volgende oggend te bespreek.

Ons jag die tarentale tot en met 9:00. As ons nie reg gekom het nie los ons hulle vir laat middag. Dit is vir ons belangrik om nie te veel druk op die voëls of wild te sit nie. As ons rustig is raak die voëls en wild rustig en ons kry ʼn beter kans om suksesvol te wees.

Eerste Been: Die Tarentale Ons begin die dag met die voëls en normaal weg is tarentale die spesie wat ons teiken. Net soos die son sy kop uitsteek is hulle lief om in die lande te wei voordat hulle die res van die dag in die klowe op die buur plase verdwyn.

Terselfde tyd gaan ons dan ook deur inligting soos die skoot plasing op die bok en voëls en wat se vlieglyne, vlieë, ens, ek verkies. Ons gaan ook die vlieglyne se voorslag na om seker te maak alles is in plek vir die volgende dag.

Tweede Been: Bok Jag Rondom 9:00 gaan drink ons gou ʼn koppie koffie en kry iets in die deelnemers se mae voordat ons veld toe gaan met die gewere om blesbok of swart wildebeeste te gaan jag.

Die volgende oggend is ek by die deelnemers rondom 05:45 net voor die son



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By FFF Safaris verkies ons 'n minimum kaliber van 6.5mm maar sal wel ʼn 6mm kaliber toelaat. Die 6mm kaliber is in my ondervinding aan die ligte kant vir meeste jagters, want skoot plasing moet perfek wees en dit gebeur nie altyd in veld skiet / jag posisies nie. Dus verkies ek ʼn groter kaliber.

twee jagters of deelnemers per dag te gids. As dinge mooi loop en die skote val reg is ons min of meer in die 14:00 omgewing klaar met die bok jag gedeelte en nou is dit tyd om vlieg te gaan gooi vir ʼn honger forel. Derde Been: Forel

Wild hier op die platorand maak baie van hulle sig gebruik om jagters te sien. Ons het menige kere blesbokke of swart wildebeeste op ʼn afstand van 1200m met die laser gemeet en dan staan hulle vir die Cruiser wat ons gestop het en kyk.

As die oggend se tarentaal jag goed verloop, het hengelaars genoeg tyd om rustig vlieg te gooi en ʼn forel te flous. Hier help ons graag die hengelaars deur seker te maak die voorslag is reg gebind, die vlieë wat hulle gebruik is reg en dat hulle op die regte diepte hengel.

Die uitdaaging hier is om die bokke uit te oorle deur die kontoere / rante en dooie grond van die area te gebruik sodat hulle nie bewus is van jou nie en dan verkieslik binne 150m van ʼn bok wat ons wil skiet te kom. Ons werk hard om seker te maak die jagter het net een skoot nodig want as dit dalk ʼn kwes of mis skoot is kan dit baie vinnig tyd steel vir die res van die dag se beplanning

Enige een van die drie bene van die McNab kan ʼn deelnemer pootjie. Ons het dit al gehad dat die weer draai en ʼn koue ooste wind druk digte mis oor die platorand. Dan is dit werklike uitdaging met Moeder Natuur wat ook saam kan of wil speel.

Dit is dus vir FFF Safaris belangrik om slegs www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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Ons sê altyd vir die deelnemers ons moet vat wat die veld ons gee en as Moeder Natuur vir ons ʼn moeilike weer dag gee moet ons dit ook geniet. Ons het al McNab gedoen waar die maksimum temperatuur nie veel meer as 6C was nie.

Vir korporatiewe groepe kan ons ook ʼn McNab uitdaging aanbied waar ons tot vyftien lede kan akkommodeer wat ʼn ware spanbou sessie is. Lede word in spanne van drie ingedeel. Ons gee elke span die geleentheid om kleiduif te skiet vir punte, dan geweer te skiet vir punte op 100m.

Dit is nie maklik om 'n Royal McNab op die Platorand gedoen te kry nie. Meeste van die kere is dit of die voel of die vis wat nie wil saam speel nie, maar die deelnemers wat dit wel reg kry kan opreg trots wees.

En dan vir die derde gedeelte hengel die spanne vir forel. Elke lid kan een forel laat meet. Forel wat gevang word gemeet en elke sentimeter is ʼn punt vir die span.

Wat almal wel sê is dat hulle die uitdaging terdeë geniet het en dat hulle dit verseker weer gaan kom doen. Nie omdat hulle nie McNab kon voltooi nie, maar omdat daardie ervaring inderdaad uniek is.


Aan die einde van die dag word al die punte bymekaar getel en so word die wen spanne bepaal en spanbou terdeë geniet.


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By Hook or By Crook!

for our return trip; where- after the mist enveloped our passage making vision most difficult and so we had to rely almost solely on the early war nings of our digital companion and route finder.

I had previously travelled the Long Tom Pass in Mpumalanga but never before had I approached it whilst driving very slowly from a wind- swept gravel road and marvelling at the panoramic scenery unfolding, behind me. And, at no other time had I been more grateful for the incessant and monotone directions of ‘Miss Garmin’, than on my most recent visit to Sabie where I visited Gunyatoo Trout which sits in the Rhenosterhoek valley, positioned somewhere between Lydenburg and Sabie on the ‘ander- kant’ of Long Tom Pass.

I was a guest of Gunyatoo Trout at the bequest of Debbie Connolly mother of the aforementioned Ryan and matriarch to an outdoor- loving family including her husband Bob and another three daughters. Debbie and her one daughter Carey, together with Carey’s husband Keith have a vision and this is their story so far... Gunyatoo takes it’s name from the aboriginal word for home, ‘Gunya’, where the expectation is that guests may find their Gunya-too or ‘home from home’ in the tranquillity of the beautiful mountains, lush green plantations and flowing waters.

That afternoon, my fishing buddy, Chris and I had left Gunyatoo Trout and travelled up the less populated side of the mountain to the top of the pass before travelling down the tarmacadam and into Sabie for some river fly fishing at Sabie Trout Club. There we were met by Ryan Connolly, a fly fisher of note and after a quick recce of the river, he left us alone to meander the river, whilst he returned to work. Having become totally engrossed in our enthralling activity, and losing track of time, we left Sabie in the dark

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The farm was first settled in 1872 and the lodge was built in 1900 with many add-ons over the following years. There are vestiges of the past all carefully preserved in the buildings and even a rose tree stands proudly near the swimming pool; at 120 years old it is blooming beautiful!



Today the house has been converted into a lodge with 5 suites and there are also 4 separate cottages. Debbie has a flatlet in the lodge which she shares with Bob and so is never very far away from it all. Debbie runs the lodge and cooks up her culinary delights, whilst Bob still has his job in Forestry.

dams and bass was stocked in the other. The river was fast flowing and brown trout thrived. It was paradise unrivalled! Sadly, those days were brought to a bitter end when crooks entered the property whilst the family were away and netted and then removed the entire stock of trout ,taking with them 3 years of potential trout production income. The state of Nels river sadly deteriorated and there was little in the way of funding to repair the damaged weir and keep the river clear.

Previously the 25ha property lent itself mainly to the trout production business and in it’s ‘hey- day’ the raceway below the two dams nearest the main house were stocked brim-full with growing trout. There were also abundant trout to be found in the three trout



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The financial blow was a severe set- back for the family and Bob and Debbie decided to pack up and move to Indonesia for 12 years. All trout work on the property therefore ceased during that period of inactivity and things on the farm went into a state of disrepair.

to the dams and river. New activities have been introduced such as the laying out of mountain bike routes and hiking trails cleared; there are those walks with traversing access over neighbouring lands including one hike to a nearby waterfall. I am told eels reside in the pool below the said waterfall but I was reluctant to clamber on down to the pond for fear of not being able to return to the upper ridge as my recurring knee problems prefer terra firma, on the level. The tried and tested homely service has prevailed and guests are back with rave reviews on the food and lodgings.

The family have retur ned and with determination have begun to implement a plan to take Gunyatoo back to itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s former glory. The lodge and cottages are operating and the surrounds are looking stunning. The bramble around the two smallest dams has b e e n m o s t l y c l e a re d a n d t h e d a m s restocked with trout varying in size from 350g to 1.5kg, with most averaging around the 800g mark. The water clarity has returned to itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s previous excellence and the next phase involves work on the trophy dam and clearing up the river. The raceway will be resurrected with a mix of trout being added

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Aside from the activities on itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s doorstep the lodge and cottages are suitable as a base for exploration along the Panorama route, trips to tourist sites such as Kruger, Pilgrims rest and Sudwala Caves and of course the river fishing in the area.



Chris and I were asked to review the fishing experience at Gunyatoo within the ambits of catch and release and using barbless hooks. Initially the takes were few and far between but as we learnt the local tactics, so the catches increased, although most were relatively small and in the region of a pound or www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

so. My feeling is that for the weekend warrior, there will be no shortage of fun with the much favoured woolly being a sure bet. Gunyatoo does not allow â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Day Visitorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and facilities are exclusively for Guests.


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On the last day of our stay the competition between hook and fish seemed to have become a little unfair with the pendulum having clearly swung in favour of the fly fishermen. We both needed a somewhat stiffer challenge and the Sabie river provided just that.

the upper, being mostly wild. I certainly favoured the latter where the trout seemed less risk averse but then one’s approach mattered more. The only pearl of wisdom I have to share is not to spend too much time prospecting waters where you can’t see the trout as they are probably not there! A long -tapered leader with strike indicator was successful, when drifted and the flies were all submerged variations with little or no surface activity seen. Sabie Trout Club welcomes the day fisher and at R150 this is good value for money with around 8km of water to fish. I fully recommend Sabie Trout Club and with my favourite streams on the slopes near Lydenburg no longer being open to the likes of ‘Joe Fisher’, then using Gunyatoo as a base makes perfect sense!

The day was a complete success, talking fly fishing with like- minded folk and then testing our skills on the water itself. I was soon into a fish but having been cajoled into catching hungry, still water trout for most of the week; I was indeed caught off guard by the might of the strike and cunningness of the quarry. So ,the fish was lost before the fight had even begun! Needless to say, I did land one much later in the early evening but it was smaller and I was left to rue the earlier spoiled attempt. I had seen Ryan cast a more than cursory glance at my rudimentary fishing kit and his face took on a look of something between utter disgust and pure sympathy. I therefore fully understood his earlier offer to loan me his rods and flies as the baton was truly being passed to me and the reputation of the river was reliant on me; in catching a goliath.

For the purist, there is also small mountain stream fishing which can be arranged through FOSAF. One thing, I would caution on though is to leave the river during day-light as Sabie is littered with potholes that can be quite damaging if hit at any speed. It is not about whether you will hit a pothole; it is rather a choice of which one you’d prefer!

To be fair the river was low and I was using borrowed kit but two takes in two hours was really a moderate effort on my side, with only one trout being landed. The river is interesting with the lower part cleared and Return to contents

“Will I return?” “Do fish swim?” 71


The Analogy of flyfishing to good business strategy and market penetration Ari Seiris I grew up in Ladysmith in the late 60's and from a young age, as soon as my father had developed a network with some other working professionals in the small town and got to know some of the farmers, I had the opportunity to be invited as a 'laaitie' to fish bass on their farms, while my mom and dad relaxed on the farmer’s porch sipping G&T and beer and planning development, debating politics and arguing about sport.

be the shoot 'skivvie' on the same farms I fished. My Dad was popular with the farmers, not a great shot but a great sport and always told a great story. He was known as “Big Hunter” for not being so accurate, but great fun. In 1972 I was sent off to Highbury Preparatory School in Hillcrest. I thought my fishing days were over. How wrong I was; the journey was just beginning.

The dams were full of bass and anything you threw in the water worked as bait. Bread balls with Bovril, earthworms, c r i c k e t s , grasshoppers and a rubber lure. I am not sure whether we could not afford rapala or if they were not around but everything seemed to get the attention of the Nambiti bass. I caught many, kept them all, filled up the deep freeze and never embraced the concept of “release”.

During my school holidays I could fish bass in any dam I wanted; the farmers loved me, as it was an essential culling of their fish. The dams were always brimming full. In my senior year at Highbury (Standard 6 in 1975), I joined the fly-fishing club under the stewardship of Mr. Pennington and the expertise of the maestro, Jack Blackman.

It was the greatest fun I had as a kid, actually equalling the guinea fowl shooting Sundays when I would retrieve the birds and

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My Papu and Granny Daph bought me all the kit I needed, which I was told was the most expensive birthday gift I have ever been given, and all of a sudden I was a fly fisherman. It seems that the type of fishing I was doing for peasant bass was but a lowly sport for mudrats. Fly fishing was for gentlemen, I was told, in our case - young gentlemen.

cassette tape recorder and 2 sets of batteries and we played this song over and over again during a fishing weekend to Balgowan, until either the tape stretched or the batteries went flat. There was no fly-fishing club at Hilton College and my high school years were consumed with sport as well as a dozen other societies and activities. On my holidays in Ladysmith, I did wield my fly rod at bass again and slaughtered them but there was no challenge or stalk. As soon as my fly landed, there was a squabble over it. When I focussed on trout, my whole outlook and philosophy changed and I wanted the adventure of luring the most stubborn of trout. This is when the penny dropped about the purpose of fly-fishing.

We were taught to tie flies, to understand the generic flies and their purpose, to cast, how to navigate rivers and look for trout in various hot spots in a river section. Also, the different traits of Rainbow vs Brown and how to address each. We understood the difference between flashing a dam and stalking a river. Trout fishing became an art, a science, a sport, a mystery, a challenge and bloody difficult, but intriguing and fun. Being a boarder at Highbury, I seldom got to leave the school in a term (school quarter) but the fly fishing club travelled to the Drakensberg and Kamberg for the occasional weekend. A dozen of us escaped in the school bus and it was great fun. Being part of the fly-fishing club was beginning to have status and meaning. It was the beginning of a hobby that is still my favourite and will forever keep my interest.

Trout fishing is about assessing the conditions on the day at the water: understanding the prevalent bugs and baits on the water and simulating these conditions in fly choice, line and depth placement, casting techniques, retrieving methods and then how you treat the fish when it is on. I studied at UCT (although only for 2 years), then was drafted into the Army (infantry) for my two years of National Service. This was a very interesting period and I learnt many life lessons from serving an illegitimate cause. I trained in Echo Company and qualified out of Infantry School at Oudtshoorn as a 2nd

One incident I do recall was at the annual Highbury fly-fishing club casting competition, when my parents drove all the way from Ladysmith to see what I could do. Sadly, I came last. I was terribly embarrassed and got teased for years about this loss. Anyway, the truth of it is that the longest cast does not always catch the biggest fish. I will come back to that. However, it was a huge blow to my ego. The fly fishing club helped form strong friendships between we eager youngsters and I still have invaluable friendships today with everyone in the group. Another memory made … I just smile every time I hear Space Oddity by David Bowie. “…ground control to Major Tom…” This song had just come out: between us we had one

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lieutenant after having being awarded “Sportsman of the year (1983)” at the unit. I also completed a Parabat course after my Commission at the School and then, against my will, was deployed to a specialised Intelligence unit reporting to Pretoria with the mandate to infiltrate Maseru in company with 170 miners from the Lesotho Liberation Army, *(https://www.sahistory.org.za/ archive/chapter-3-historical-lesotho) to assassinate President Leabua Jonathan of the Basotho National Party.



He was the dictator in Lesotho and housed the ANC office and personnel, including the late Chris Hani.

during guinea fowl shoots those many years

We were only 3 in this leader group: myself, Kpl Fritz Kraft with whom I had been at Oudtshoorn and whom I really trusted, and a Captain from 32 Battalion (mainly to keep an eye on us). We set up a camp at Monks Cowl forestry station and started training these 170 coalminers from the Free State. Fritz and I were given new passports (Zimbabwean) and I was now Andy McTavers. We had piles of Russian weapons and all the resources we needed except no communication was allowed with the outside world. The only communication we had was a radio between ourselves and Colonel Benade in Chief Staff Intelligence. To be honest, I knew that we were dispensable, and I did not trust anybody except Kraft. The interesting thing about our location was that we were surrounded by many of the farmers whom I knew very well and as you will recall, I had fished many of their waters and walked behind my dad as a 'skivvie' www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

ago. On many a day I dreamt of cutting loose to go fly fishing but all I had was an AK47.


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I don’t know whether it was fortunate or unfortunate for me that the intelligence unit did not do a good enough background check on me to know that I had grown up in Ladysmith and would know the local community. I did occasionally in the middle of the night visit some of the farmers and relayed messages to my parents to let them know I was okay and informed them that I was involved in a very secret operation. I am not sure if that made them more comfortable or uncomfortable.

I always tried to look and see what positives I could take out of that experience of being that covert operator. I learned to cook, I gained the trust of 170 souls who desperately wanted to find their freedom and opportunity in Lesotho, and then I also learnt to watch my back.

The period from September to December 1983 in this scenario was very traumatic and national servicemen should not have been deployed into this very sensitive and secretive operation. We got to meet Ntsu Mokhehle who was to be the next President of Lesotho as soon as we deposed President Jonathan. We would meet at 2am at the Van Reenens Pass picnic spot on a regular basis to update him on his freedom fighters. His Liberation Army was propped up by the PW Botha Government and we were to lead his forces to take control of Lesotho. The whole operation was a failure; I was extracted and after much interrogation in Pretoria, sent to my new assignment, which was to serve with the Bushman trackers of 203 Battalion on the Border.

I was allowed a fleeting visit home after the Lesotho debacle before being flown to Bushmanland in a C130 flossie. At this time my dad pleaded with me to understand war. He also begged me not to kill anyone in the name of war. Wow, a tough ask when faced with an enemy day by day! His explanation was simple and made sense: war does not legitimise murder or the right to kill someone. I was only 21. What right did I have to kill anyone? To be honest I'd never supported the reason for the RSA vs SWAPO war. Therefore, I'd left home with a dilemma. Now, I decided to take my dad’s advice… but how? I served the last 8 months in the army at 203Bn (Bushmen Tracking unit). This was an amazing experience although also very traumatic as we were involved in many “contacts” or fire fights against SWAPO soldiers. On the first deployment to the Angolan border when I was leading a “stick” of Bushmen in 2 Buffels for 6 weeks of tracking infiltrated SWAPO and CUBAN

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soldiers, I stood on the Buffel seat, and threw the “sluitstuk” firing pin of my R4 rifle as far into the bush as I could. And thus was my decision made as to how to keep my promise to my Dad.

“mutiny” or “desertion”, but for me it was a life changing decision for which I am forever grateful. Let me explain. Little did I know that I had at least 36 years ahead of me as a quadriplegic and the lesson I learnt about removing the firing from my rifle which did not allow me to hurt or kill anyone, was going to stand me in good stead. I used the comparison of my mouth as my firing pin and I was going to try my best never to say anything to anybody that would hurt them. I was going to need as much support as I could to continue life as it should be, albeit as a quadriplegic, and a firing pin on automatic was going to be no asset. Efcharistó Baba. (Thank you dad)

The Bushman trackers were tremendously loyal and very skilled at tracking, until the first shot in our direction. I recall spending a lot of time trying to gather my troops together after the contact, assuring them they had done their job of tracking, and informing them that other 'crack' units had “done the business”. The lesson learnt here was that a tracker is a tracker, and a tracker was not expected to be a fighter. Thus, very soon in our deployment on the Angolan border while tracking the infiltration of SWAPO soldiers, I learned the knack of informing Koevoet and Recces when we were close to action and then made sure there would always be troops close by to take over and join the contact.

My experience in the army had a direct impact in my rehabilitation as well as being one of my reasons for returning to fly-fishing. In early 1985, somebody late one night in a place of ill repute took a bet that I could not run the Comrades Marathon. That was a big mistake. Next day, babalaas and I went to Kings Sports in Hill street Pinetown and bought a pair of running shoes. I joined a running club and did what needed to be done and very proudly completed the Comrades Marathon in 10h31m. I vowed never to do that again and fate was to confirm that.

There are so many things that happened in those 9 months on the border with the Bushmen that they would go to make a book on its own. Maybe one day I will pen it all down. On my return home I sat down with my dad and discussed my adventure with him and explained my response to his request. Removing a firing pin could have been seen as



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In August 1985, I broke my neck in a diving accident at Durban’s Waterworld. This was NOT on my playlist.

An occupational therapist visited me and said, “You are going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life”. I decided almost immediately that I would tell quadriplegia what my dreams and goals were and what I needed to do and achieve in life; quadriplegia was NOT going to define me. Quadriplegia needed to fit in with my goals, not the opposite way around. I would decide where I wished to go and not be always confined to my wheelchair. Using a wheelchair would not imprison me; it would allow me to participate and be a force in society. This is the mind-set with which I began. And it has worked for me.

In order to accept the consequences of a spinal cord injury, apply myself in rehabilitation and then have to face the world again while using a wheelchair, I needed some of the business acumen I had learnt at UCT, the strategic planning, bullet dodging and the mind of the fox learnt in the army, as well as the resilience needed to complete a Comrades Marathon. In hindsight, I was grateful for all those experiences. There were three discussions that were very significant to me quite soon into my rehabilitation which began in Addington Hospital. The orthopaedic surgeon who performed my neck fusion came to me and said “You are a quadriplegic. You won’t be able to do this, you won't be able to do that …”. I could not spell the word let alone understand what it meant in terms of recovery, future agility and lifestyle choices. I wanted to walk again. Let's be honest: all of us suffering SCI want that.....

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The third discussion I had was as a result of my accident being widely broadcast in the media, and lots of people took a particular interest in wishing me well, especially friends. My family support was quite incredible but the visits and support from friends was actually overwhelming. I decided to talk to many of them and ask them to give me the space, time and rest to participate in rehabilitation and amortise their visitation times over a much longer period - if necessary, even over years. And this worked. I have managed to retain my friend-base or most of them for all of these years, and our visitation continues.

another whole message and philosophy in the activity of fly-fishing. I just needed to get back on the water to prove this to myself and create an analogy between living and fishing. There were some physical elements to deal with however. Having no triceps muscles at all and with very little agility in my fingers and limited wrist movement, with my rod in hand I presented myself to an orthoptist, Heinrich Grimsel, at his practice in Durban, and asked him to offer a solution whereby I could hold the rod and functionally be able to cast. I took my reel to a good friend, Brett Bakke, and he quickly engineered a reeling- in mechanism. Reel done!

I have achieved most of my goals and I have travelled to most places on my bucket list; I have worked for myself as an e n t re p re n e u r, f o r a c o m p a n y a s a n employee, and for an NPO as the CEO. Moreover, I know thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still much more to come and to be done.

Heinrich called me and said he was ready for me. He had designed the most incredible rod holder that could strap onto my arm and be stable enough so that I could secure my rod, and then cast. It looked beautiful and he was as proud as I was delighted! The first fish that I caught with my new rig, I chose to keep and I proudly presented it to him for his pan, in gratitude that I could fish again. Since then, I have not intentionally taken another fish out of the water.

It took me a few years to settle and become independent with a home, to drive again and to have a business - and then I yearned to fly fish. I knew that the calm of fly fishing would be the perfect remedy to recover from war and injury, and whether I like to admit it or not, post traumatic stress existed. There was no demobilisation process from the army and there is no quick fix for the trauma of the spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation is the process of returning in sound mind from hospital to home. Many of us who fought in Angola have not spoken about our experiences and this was almost 40 years ago. I guess nobody would bother to listen anyway and so there needs to be a place where one can find calmness, and somewhere that allows one to meditate and make sense of the senseless. For me, that place is in fly fishing!

I took a few casting lessons at Blue Lagoon with Mike Harker and after achieving 50ft of line on the water, I knew it was time to visit the mountains again.

And so the analogy of fly fishing to good business strategy and market penetration. When anybody hears that I fly fish, I see the frown on their faces and I know they are wondering how I get to the dam or river. Most donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think further than that. Yes, as a wheelchair- user, I need to have accessible water, which means a dam that is groomed or a river where I can get really close to the flow.

I had earned PTS and needed to find the remedy of calmness and release. I have thought about it for a long time and this is when I started realising that there is Return to contents



So it boils down to my having the wallet and they having the facilities which they rent out for the day..... and that is how fly-fishing is sustainable in commercial waters. If a farmer makes his water available for guest fishing and the facilities are groomed, then they get my business. In addition, many farmers make a big effort to make their facilities accessible for which I am grateful. There is quite a lot of fly-fishing available at tourist resorts mainly in the Berg areas of South Africa and there are more than enough waters that are accessible. Maybe here is an analogy on its own if you are talking about accessible markets and economies. If countries, governments and policies are accessible in their trade agreements and provide access to markets, then everyone can 'cast' into these markets and benefit from trade.

communities these days and the corporate sector is now understanding the importance of not only maximising profit, but also the investment in the community. Probably the most important element of market assessment is to spend some time looking at the conditions of the day. Is it windy? Is it quiet? Is the water warm? Is it cold? Is it quiet or abuzz? Is it murky or clear? Is it deep or shallow? What sort of structure is there around the dam? Structure is defined in trout fishing terms as the availability and position of shade, rocks, weed, water flow in and out of the dam, varying depths. Once you identify all of these, you have various options in terms of what fly to use and where you want to place it. If you are selling goods, products and services, there are many markets with different structures; each market needs a different strategy and possibly different products and services which are packaged and priced accordingly. The same is true of with fly-fishing for trout. Look, feel, plan, deliberate, decide.

When I get to the water’s edge, I find myself a level position for my wheelchair and lock myself in, as I always remember the story of “the old man and the sea “ by Ernest Hemingway where Santiago, the fisherman, gets towed away by the monster marlin and endures tremendous hardship. I’d hate to be pulled into the water for the embarrassment, the inconvenience, and the guaranteed freezing thereafter.

Carefully study all the bugs on the water and those fluttering just above. All of these are potential trout food. In the market, these are your competitors. And so you want your product to attract the attention of the trout as your 'customer'. Take a look at your fly box (your catalogue). Is there something there that can compete with the bugs on the water on the day? What will work today? The black woolly bugger? A walkers killer? Mrs Simpson or the infamous Speed-Kop? Or do you need to repackage?

So, in business language you need to be close to the marketplace (the water), but far enough away to be able to make essential and important observations. Establish yourself. Lock yourself into the community. Make sure your company not only trades in the area but that there is also the support of the local community and investment in that community. Social entrepreneurship and social enterprises are well respected in all

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Pull out your fly tying equipment and material, and put together a better product in the form of a unique fly pattern that will trump the market with attention, pricing and offering.

of the line and the halt… or a low stroke and wait". There so many different ways to present your product to the market in order to get the attention of your customer.......or your trophy trout.

Tie your fly on well, secure it, choose your correct line. Decide on floating, intermediate or sinking, depending on the conditions of the day and then get your cast out. Remember, most people identify fly anglers as those people who are whisking a line up and down in the air looking wellcoordinated, gentlemanly and professional. However, you can catch the fish only when the fly is on the water. The furthest cast does not always catch; it's all about making the correct assessment of the water, the structure and what you observe about the fish if you have had a sighting.

Each time you fish, whether in the same water or new, you learn more and more about trout and their eating habits. And so you should likewise understand the buying habits and needs of your customers. Take copious notes, dig deeper into your fly box, understand retrieving methods, and try putting your fly into a different structure on the water. Is this the most delicious and best fly on the water on the day? If so, you are going to have a lot of fun and many relationships with plenty of trout. If not, do not despair. Back to the drawing board. Should I use a different fly? Should we improve our pricing? Should I use a different line weight? Should our distribution channels be more effective? Should I change retrieving methods? Is our advertising method appropriate to the market? Questions for the angler and similar questions for the sales team or marketer.

It's no different in the marketplace: do you pester a customer for an order or patiently present your offering? Remember what happens if you do get a fish on your fly that has not been tied on securely. You will lose your catch as well as your reputation, and the same is true in business.

There are so many analogies about the choices you make when you fly fish for trout and when you present your product or service to a market. It is fascinating and if you’ve got something decent to offer the market, then there is a trout out there. What do you need to do to get the attention you want and to be able to shout, “fish on!” Is it in your price? Your packaging? Branding? Delivery? Your guarantee? Your service?

When casting you need to be aware of what is behind you as well. What obstacles are there that will snare your fly before it lands on the water - or your product in the market. This is the blind spot, if you haven't checked it out; it's an essential on your checklist. I can assure you, it took me a long time to get that right, and I have spent some time in the embarrassing situation of my rod being flexed in the wrong direction. These are good photo opportunities for your worst enemies and best friends.

Occasionally nothing comes to light in your search for the right fly to cast and in this case I tie on my “tried and tested” black woolly bugger or take a chance on something that has never been chosen by me before.(I actually do feel sorry for a dozen flies in my box that haven’t had a dip in the water). And so too, in the market out there: present something with gut feel and confidence, or test a new product. I have surprised myself a

In business this could equate to staying abreast of technology changes (e.g. Netflix nailing the video rental business) or shifts in the consumer sentiment or the competitive landscape. Each different fly in your fly box should have a different retrieval method. “Two short jerks Return to contents



number of times.

the right fly, you cast the right length onto the right spot and you lead the fish into taking a look at you. Do you take the fish out the water, and keep it to take home or do you give this beautiful trout a soft peck of introduction and reintroduce it back into the water to live another day? That decision is yours to make. Some businessmen will take everything they can get and eat as much as they can. Others will be selective as to what they keep out of the water, taking stock of age, length and weight....... and then there are those social entrepreneurs and strategists who realise that the kinder you treat your trout, the more often you will catch the same fellow. Get to understand the fish in this particular dam and come back for more and more.

And so there comes a time, hopefully sooner rather than later on the day you go fishing, that there is this nudge on your fly. Do you retrieve quicker and expect a chase? Or strike like hell? Or lie still and wait for a second look-in? There is no definite answer; you should know the water by now, that being your market; you should be getting to know your customer - and the habits of trout - and make your decision in a “blink”. Malcolm Gladwell will tell you this in his bestseller, ”Blink:the Power of Thinking without Thinking”. “FISH ON” says you have the interest of the trout.. your customer. The hook is in, and now you need to do the reeling in. Gently? Letting the trout run a bit or just robustly reel in at all costs and maybe losing the catch for a light breaking strain leader?

Is the cost of securing a new customer much cheaper than servicing all your existing customers? If that’s the case, then keep all of your fish. But if that’s not the case, then “catch and release” and grow your business accordingly.

Of course, the hook itself is reason for another debate between anglers. Do you fish the water with barbless or use barbs on our hook. Fishing with barbless allows many opportunities to return the catch to the water with minimal damage and pain, yet the opposite is true of a hook that has a barb.

When the sun goes down and you've completed your last cast, it’s the end of the trading day and you evaluate your basket or your market penetration. Many fly anglers are happy with nothing in their basket but many a trout at the end of their line, which they released to catch another day. Every time I go fishing, many people ask me “how many did you catch?” There is a simple but very important answer to this question: how many fish did I want to catch Is probably the most relevant question. I must say, there have been times when I have not caught a single trout even though the water was teeming with rises.

There are many different theories about getting the fish to the side of the water, ready to be introduced to yourself. Allowing the trout to run is a lot of fun and you will really enjoy the fight and achievement when it's over. It gives you an opportunity to learn about the resilience of your catch. Or reeling in as fast as possible to satisfy your hunger or basket? I seldom see that business strategy working. Nevertheless, people do it. Gently retrieving your trout and enjoying the play is a very successful strategy: there is very little stress on your catch and the chance of losing your fish from a break-off is reduced. Eventually when you hold a beautiful trout in both hands a new customer or the same old one - I can guarantee that you will have a big smile on your face. You chose Return to contents



number of times.

enjoy the fight and achievement when it's over. It gives you an opportunity to learn about the resilience of your catch. Or reeling in as fast as possible to satisfy your hunger or basket? I seldom see that business strategy working. Nevertheless, people do it.

And so there comes a time, hopefully sooner rather than later on the day you go fishing, that there is this nudge on your fly. Do you retrieve quicker and expect a chase? Or strike like hell? Or lie still and wait for a second look-in? There is no definite answer; you should know the water by now, that being your market; you should be getting to know your customer - and the habits of trout - and make your decision in a “blink”. Malcolm Gladwell will tell you this in his bestseller, ”Blink:the Power of Thinking without Thinking”.

Gently retrieving your trout and enjoying the play is a very successful strategy: there is very little stress on your catch and the chance of losing your fish from a break-off is reduced. Eventually when you hold a beautiful trout in both hands a new customer or the same old one - I can guarantee that you will have a big smile on your face. You chose the right fly, you cast the right length onto the right spot and you lead the fish into taking a look at you. Do you take the fish out the water, and keep it to take home or do you give this beautiful trout a soft peck of introduction and reintroduce it back into the water to live another day? That decision is yours to make. Some businessmen will take everything they can get and eat as much as they can. Others will be selective as to what they keep out of the water, taking stock of age, length and weight....... and then there are those social entrepreneurs and strategists who realise that the kinder you treat your trout, the more often you will catch the same fellow. Get to understand the fish in this particular dam and come back for more

“FISH ON” says you have the interest of the trout.. your customer. The hook is in, and now you need to do the reeling in. Gently? Letting the trout run a bit or just robustly reel in at all costs and maybe losing the catch for a light breaking strain leader? Of course, the hook itself is reason for another debate between anglers. Do you fish the water with barbless or use barbs on our hook. Fishing with barbless allows many opportunities to return the catch to the water with minimal damage and pain, yet the opposite is true of a hook that has a barb. There are many different theories about getting the fish to the side of the water, ready to be introduced to yourself. Allowing the trout to run is a lot of fun and you will really

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Is the cost of securing a new customer much cheaper than servicing all your existing customers? If that’s the case, then keep all of your fish. But if that’s not the case, then “catch and release” and grow your business accordingly.

sunrise to sunset without even seeing a “rise”. I felt too awkward to ask the farmer when he had last stocked this dam as he bragged it was a trophy dam and charged accordingly but I will take the blame and return one day when word gets out of a trophy catch. Maybe this dam or market had limited potential or alternatively I need more skill to fish in this technical water. In the meantime to survive in my business, or to keep my interest, I will choose more productive waters.

When the sun goes down and you've completed your last cast, it’s the end of the trading day and you evaluate your basket or your market penetration. Many fly anglers are happy with nothing in their basket but many a trout at the end of their line, which they released to catch another day. Every time I go fishing, many people ask me “how many did you catch?” There is a simple but very important answer to this question: how many fish did I want to catch Is probably the most relevant question. I must say, there have been times when I have not caught a single trout even though the water was teeming with rises.

In the last few years I have loved my time back on the water with my fly fishing rod, my friends and a single malt. It has given me many solutions to strategic and operational dilemmas. It has also given me t h e calmness I needed in my life and h a s allowed me to cure, reflect and understand. Fly-fishing still remains an art that not everybody gets into, or is successful at. However, I’ve never seen an ugly outlook, nor an unwise fishing buddy and every time I've gone fishing with some friends, have always taken the trouble to enquire what fly is working, and what condition the trout are in. Those are the two most important elements to balance, besides rhythm and patience.

Maybe I have not assessed the demographics of my market correctly on the day and I’m fishing in the wrong dam. That often happens. Did I do enough market research? Did I ask others who have fished on the same water if they caught or had any interest? The market has dried up and I need to look and book on another farm. Time to move on and possibly time to pivot. There are so many new lessons and strategies coming out of COVID19 that we have not thought of before.

I’ve worked this out… “It's not how you get there, it's what you do and how you do it when you're there.”

Ari Seirlis

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South Africa’s new coastal MPAs, a brief explanation for recreational anglers. Bruce Mann, Oceanographic Research Institute

Photo credits: Niel Malan, Jeffrey Asher Wood and Gareth Webster. On the 23 May 2019 South Africa declared 20 new or extended marine protected areas (MPAs) in the South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This brought spatial protection up from 0.4% to 5% of the EEZ and, while still short of the 10% recommended by the Convention for Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11 for 2020, it represents a substantial step forward for marine conservation in South Africa. Of the 20 new MPAs, nine include shelf habitats on or near to the coast that will directly affect recreational anglers. These include iSimangaliso, uThukela, Aliwal, Protea, Amathole, Addo, Agulhas Bank, Robben Island and Namaqua.

populations to have greater resilience and the ability to adapt. Assuming that the new MPAs can be properly enforced and that they are respected by recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, they will provide significant protection for targeted linefish species, especially resident, overexploited species. However, some anglers have expressed dismay at the declaration of the new MPAs as they feel that their favourite sport or pastime is being restricted. So, let’s have a look at the new MPAs to better understand what they mean for recreational angling. To start off with, we need to understand that virtually all our larger MPAs are zoned for multiple forms of use. Most of the MPAs are zoned separately for inshore (shore-based) and offshore (boat-based) activities. The strange shape of our MPAs is because, where possible, the boundaries were set using lines of latitude or longitude which enables more effective law enforcement.

Past research in South Africa and elsewhere has shown that large, well enforced, no-take MPAs that include good reef habitat, allow resident reef fish to increase in abundance and size over time. They also protect healthier, fitter and more fecund fish and facilitate spillover into adjacent fished areas. This is extremely important, especially in the face of climate change, as it allows reef fish



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There are four types of zones that affect recreational anglers namely a Restricted Zone (i.e. a no-take or no fishing zone), a Controlled Pelagic Zone (i.e. an offshore zone where pelagic game-fishing is allowed but no bottom-fishing), a Controlled Catch and Release Zone (i.e. an inshore zone where only catch and release shore fishing is permitted) and a Controlled Zone (i.e. where


a l l t y p e s o f re c re a t i o n a l f i s h i n g a re permitted). Many stakeholder meetings were held prior to the declaration of the MPAs and opportunity was given to stakeholders to submit their comments on the draft MPAs before they were declared. This has enabled many of the legitimate concerns of anglers to be incorporated into the final design of the MPAs.


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I suggest that every recreational angler should get a copy of the relevant government gazette declarations of the MPAs in your area and study them carefully so that you understand where you can and cannot fish (see links below). Hopefully, in time, maps will be made available either as brochures or electronically for boat anglers which can be installed on a GPS.

policing, the new MPAs will not have the desired effect and will simply become “paper parks”. The new MPAs are there to help our linefish stocks recover so that ultimately there will be enough fish for all of us and our future generations. It really is up to us to make them work! If you would like to know more about our M PA s h a v e a l o o k a t t h e w e b s i t e www.marineprotectedareas.org.za. The maps and regulations are available on our website www.saambr.org.za/conservation/ On facebook - Marine Protected Areas SA has information about our MPAs and more information on linefish can be found at EduOceans -Fun Fishy Facts.

The first reaction by many anglers is that the new MPAs are all well and good but how are “they” going to enforce them? As recreational anglers most of us are well aware of the poor state of many of our prime angling fishes, there are simply not as many as there used to be. Similarly, we also know about the lack of capacity in both our national and provincial environmental Bruce Mann management agencies. The bottom line is that unless we as anglers take on custodianship of the new MPAs and adopt a responsible attitude, which includes selfwww.saflyfishingmag.co.za 87

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The END OF DECENCY - AN UPDATE ON THE TROUT WARS Ian Cox The journalist John Yeld, interviewing his friend Dr. Guy Preston on his retirement, wrote of “the as-yet unresolved controversy over the status of alien trout species in South African waters” as one of the negatives in his career. Preston then went on to lump trout collectively with other socalled invasive species which he said had collectively posed a real cost to South Africa of “probably in the order of hundreds of billions of rands”.

government’s control over South Africa’s biological resources. This is having the effect of incrementally depriving South African’s of the private property rights they once enjoyed in respect of biological resources. This process of an incremental nationalisation of private property rights is very much part of the broader ANC strategy of bringing the economy and all resources under direct government control.

The computer modelling that resulted in that estimate has been overblown in much the same way as the COVID modelling of epidemiologists has grossly exaggerated the effects of the pandemic. This should not come as a surprise. There is a natural tendency amongst those who make their living out of disasters to exaggerate things in support of their cause. The very considerable industry that Dr. Preston led in his fight against alien and invasive species is no exception to this.

I have spent some time in explaining this back story because it goes some way to explaining what ordinarily would be the extraordinary step the minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, took in amending the 2014 and 2016 alien and invasive species lists even though the legality of the publication participation process that preceded this law is the subject of the ongoing court action.

This may be why the attempts of the environmental affairs to deal with alien and invasive species have been largely unsuccessful. Like Aesop’s boy who cried wolf, so it is that the excesses of the invasive species cult are increasingly being ignored.

Sadly, this has not been entirely unexpected. Her predecessor the late Edna Molewa did much the same thing in the case that the Kloof Conservancy regarding her failure to list species as invasive within the time periods stipulated in the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act or NEMBA.

It is also becoming increasingly obvious that the so-called war on so-called invasive species that Dr. Preston has spent so much of his life on has little to do with whether these species cause harm to human health and wellbeing. The focus of these and other so-called biodiversity conservation laws is really on increasing the www.saflyfishingmag.co.za

Dr. Preston was very much involved in this as the deputy director-general responsible for environmental programs. This included the invasive species control program run by what was then the Department of Environmental Affairs. 90

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On 19 July 2013 Minister Molewa unlawfully promulgated the 2103 AIS lists, thereby rendering the Kloof Conservancy application moot. Those who followed that case may remember that Dr. Preston deposed to a substantive affidavit just after this happened.

This again rendered moot the litigation that the Kloof Conservancy had pursued since 2012. The judge hearing the matter had some very harsh things to say about this conduct including criticism of what he referred to as â&#x20AC;&#x153;interimâ&#x20AC;? regulations that were clearly unconstitutional and necessitated the bringing of an unnecessary review application, delaying the matter further.

This abuse of government power forced Kloof Conservancy to launch an additional application setting aside the 2013 AIS Lists. This delayed the hearing of its case by over a year.

He indicated his disapproval by ordering the minister to pay the Kloof Conservancyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s costs at the penal attorney and client scale. But this did not seem to concern the either Minister Molewa or her department. This is probably because these tactics served their purpose in preventing the Judge for delivering the judgment he wanted to.

But the abuse did not end there. After the matter had been argued in court and while the judge was preparing his judgment, Minister Molewa replaced the 2013 AIS Lists with the 2014 AIS lists that still apply today.




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We in the trout fight did not know this at the time, but the 2014 AIS lists only came about because of the agreement that was reached at the government’s Phakisa Ocean Lab in July 2014 that trout would not be listed as invasive where they presently occur. FOSAF’s Ilan Lax and Dr. Preston were key role players in reaching this agreement.

implementing what became known as the Phakisa Agreement was maintained just long enough to map the whereabouts of South Africa’s trout waters. This had almost been completed in July 2017 when Dr. P re s t o n w ro t e a n n o u n c e d t h a t t h e Department of Environmental Affairs was reneging on the Phakisa agreement. So once again trout were to be listed as invasive even though there is no evidence at all that trout are invasive as the term is defined in law. But this is easier said than done. It requires a comprehensive public participation process which includes the publication of a draft of the proposed law in the Gover nment Gazette and a nationally distributed newspaper as well as the supply of information reasonably necessary to enable the public to meaningfully make representations or objections.

This was a huge victory for the multi-billion value chain that is underpinned by trout fishing. The trout value chain thereafter invested heavily in engaging with Dr. Preston and his department in the mapping of South Africa’s trout waters that was necessary to give effect to this agreement. Unfortunately, as the months went by, it became increasingly apparent that Dr. Preston and his department were not dealing with the trout value chain in good faith. As it turned out, the pretence of

Changes to legislation impact livelihoods throughout the value chain



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Hatcheries have stocked trout in KZN dams for generations

It should come as no surprise that the Minister and Dr. Prestonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s department botched this process.

attempts to get it right. This, and Dr. Prestonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dogged defence of the indefensible, resulted in FOSAF instituting legal proceedings for an order the whole process unlawful.

FOSAF and other interested parties had asked Dr. Preston to explain how it was trout and many other species could be listed as invasive given the definition of an invasive species in NEMBA. FOSAF had even offered to make its legal team available to the department's lawyers so that the issue could be discussed lawyer to lawyer.

That case, which is being fought in the Pretoria division of the Gauteng High Court, was about to set down for hearing when the new 2020 AIS lists were promulgated by Minister Creecy on 18 September 2020.

This offer was refused.

Dr. Preston officially retired at the end of June this year so one cannot say with certainty that he was behind the promulgation of the amended AIS lists. However, it is not difficult to see the similarity between the tactics that were deployed back in 2013 and 2014 and those that are being used now.

Not unsurprisingly, the draft amendment that was published for comment in February 2018 failed to provide the information the public reasonably required, both in relation to trout and a great number of other species. The department botched the publication process, despite several www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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On FOSAF will need to amend its application to include an order declaring the promulgation of the 2020 AIS Lists invalid on account of the failure of Minister Molewa to follow the legally prescribed consultation process.

NEMBA does not contemplate listing a species as invasive to encourage the propagation of that species. Quite the opposite is true. NEMBA requires invasive species to be eradicated or if this is not possible for measures to be taken preventing the propagation, growth, and spread of the species to be prevented.

It is not clear at the time of writing if this will delay the hearing of this matter. But what is clear is that the 2020 AIS Lists will be enforceable in law come 19 October 2020 unless further steps are taken to stop this. If this is allowed to happen one can expect the final determination of FOSAFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s case to be delayed for as long as is possible. This is not idle speculation. It is what the DEA did in the case of the judgement declaring the moratorium on the trade in rhino horn invalid. This was done in that case by employing Stalingrad tactics by making unsuccessful applications for leave to appeal all the way to the Constitutional Court.

The terms upon which permits are given authorising the farming or stocking of a listed invasive species are extremely onerous. One essentially has to show that the risk of the invasive potential of the activity is negligible. The process is also a very long one and cannot be completed in the few days remaining before the 19 October 2020 deadline. The result is that most if not all trout farms will not meet the strict criteria the law requires for a permit to be issued and none will be able to do so in time to meet the 19 October deadline.

The unlawful 2020 AIS Lists could therefor remain law for many years to come. The damage that will be done in that time both to the trout value chain and the rule of law will be huge.

Their very existence will then become a criminal offence rendering the operators liable to a period of imprisonment of ten years and/or a fine of ten million rands.

No one respects bad lawmaking or bad lawmakers. This is evident from the complete failure of the existing 2014 and 2016 AIS Lists and regulations that were also made law following an unlawful public participation process and indeed the general failure of NEMBA as a law due to repeated failures by DEA and DEFF to follow the proper process.

The multi-billion-rand investment and the billions of rands of revenue that depends on the existence of these farms will be seriously jeopardised as will the thousands of jobs and the economies of many small towns that this value chain supports. This is one of the reasons why FOSAF, has had to bring a new application seeking an urgent interim order preventing the implementation of the 2020 AIS Lists until its case has been finally determined.

But the trout value chain is particularly vulnerable as most of the industry relies on the stocking from a very small number of trout farms. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that the 2020 AIS Lists specifically target trout farms and stocking. Both will become criminal offences come 19 October 2020 unless authorised by a permit.


As Edmund Burke said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.â&#x20AC;? Now is not a time for good people to do nothing.


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is an obvious one. Many venues rely on aquaculture for a regular supply of fish to stock their waters, especially for still waters. There is thus a need to ensure this supply. This is why FOSAF is a member of the Trout SA commodity group.

As I sit at my desk writing this editorial, the first spring rains have just arrived in KZN - a welcome, moist and cool palliative to the August winds and winter’s dust and dryness. Upcountry, the veld is crisp and khaki after a fair bit of frost. The only green is the veld-fired new grass and growth and stands of evergreen plantations and other trees. The rivers and streams, although still flowing, are low and gin clear.

FOSAF’s court application relating to the draft NEMBA AIS regulations and lists continues to find its way to finally being heard in court.

I found myself back at Snowflake cottage at the end of August, but this time for work rather than play. I saw many decent fish moving in the bigger algae covered pools. Despite an incoming cold front, many fish were rising and feeding quite vigorously. I’m sure the first decent rains will wash away that thick winter coat and open up the lies for the new season’s growth. I’m told the opening weekend went well and many good fish were seen and tempted.

All the required documentation has been filed and we are waiting for the allocation of hearing dates. We thank all of you who have continued provided support in whatever form. This is most appreciated and we would not have been able to tackle this matter without this support. As soon as we have any news about the hearing will be this will be shared with you all.

My work at Snowflake entailed helping the Aquaculture sector review its strategy and approach to the Aquaculture Development Bill (ADB). South Africa has a notorious tradition (going back to the apartheid era) of euphemistically titled legislation that often ironically does the exact opposite of what the name suggests. The ADB in its current form sadly follows in these footsteps. It fails dismally as a development instrument and serves primarily to enforce state control of the sector by duplicating the numerous existing permit regimes, creating a whole new costly administration and makes the right to farm fish or other organisms the subject of a time bound discretionary licence issued by the Minister. The obvious question remains: “If you already have all the required permits, why do you need a licence from the Minister to farm?” To date we have not received a comprehensible or sensible answer.

The other area of ongoing interaction with government relates to the strangely titled draft: “National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries Policy”. There has been much talk and rumour that this is in fact a Bill or a set of fishing regulations. Actually, it is nothing of the sort. FOSAF has for years advocated the need for an inland fisheries policy that recognises the value of these freshwater ecosystems and the organisms that depend on them. We have argued that these should be managed as holistic systems and that sustainable use and where necessary conservation must be integrated to ensure that these resources survive and in fact improve for the benefit of future generations. FOSAF made a submission on this policy emphasising our concerns regarding the harmful impacts of gillnetting.

The link between aquaculture and trout fishing



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We have recently ascertained that following public submissions and revision, the policy has been signed off by Minister Creasy and will now go to NEDLAC for discussion in that forum. We have requested that the revised draft policy be made available for public scrutiny. Once this is available FOSAF will request additional inputs from our supporters and if required make a further submission.

The Vaal River is a vital heartbeat for South Africa. It is a major source of life in our waterscarce country. Aquatic/riverine flora and fauna depend on the river for their existence as do many terrestrial creatures and birds. Agriculture benefits along most of the Vaal’s length by irrigation. Local communities may benefit by relying on the fish for their food. The river supplies water to people in much of Gauteng and also five other provinces. Tourism, industry and agriculture in the catchment only survive with this precious resource.

We often find ourselves surrounded by controversy in this country with so many (mostly reasonable) demands being dealt with so ham fistedly by those who know and are able to do better. At the same time, I am so often pleasantly surprised by the huge well of goodwill among South Africans, who finds ways to work together in spite of the naysayers to achieve remarkable results without much fanfare.

In the Vaal’s mid-section rests the unique and spectacular Vredefort Dome - the world’s oldest impact crater and a World Heritage Site. The meteor impact aeons ago, unearthed the Witwatersrand gold vein and established the shock wave mountain ridges. This ensures that the Vaal River meanders and shoals, giving us such a variety of water types like riffles, runs and pools in the vicinity. This lends itself to a varied flora and fauna.

Our world produces enough of everything most people need to live a decent life, without further destroying our natural heritage and environmental capital. Our challenge is how to avoid and reduce waste, develop effective ways of using and re-using what we have produced and shifting our worldview that that reinforced our consumptive behaviour in an effort to satisfy our needs. We all know that if we can work together, we can change things for the better. The articles by Chris Williams and Leonard Flemming illustrate just two of these many positives that we should all emulate if we are to ensure South Africa’s rich and vital natural heritage endures for our grandchildren’s children.

For us fly fishers this means that we especially find smallmouth and largemouth yellowfish, each of which enjoy its own preferred micro-habitat within the river’s system. In addition, so do barbel, barbs, tilapia and mudfish as well as introduced fish such as carp, Mozambican kurper and largemouth bass. Insect life is limited by pollution but there currently remains a variety of hardy mayfly and several caddis species as well as other flies and aquatic invertebrates. Kicked off by F.M. Chutter, who first conducted regular scientific studies on the Vaal moogies and other fish in the 1960’s and onwards, much research and surveys have been conducted by our major universities, t h e Wa t e r R e s e a r c h C o u n c i l a n d independent scientists. SASS5 research shows that insects and fish are becoming increasingly sparse in their locales in the Vaal system due mainly to pollution. This is thus a highly threatened freshwater ecosystem in need of greater public support, legislative and administrative protection.

Enjoy the new season’s fishing. Yours on the line. Ilan Lax

SAVE the Vaal Environment – FOSAF/YWG Partnership The Vaal



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In the late 2010s, the ELC’s inaction led to a failure of their pump station system, dysfunctional WWTPs and pipe bursts. Meanwhile pollution in the Vaal reached crisis proportions. Save obtained court orders requiring the ELC and Municipal Manager to stop pollution forthwith and provide SAVE with their plans, budgets, time frames. The ELC disregarded the court order.

SAVE (Save the Vaal Environment) is an NPO which started in the late 1990s. Its main aim is to raise public awareness of pollution issues and to work with all stakeholders, including local communities, to prevent this in the Vaal River and its catchment. It also seeks to identify polluters - national, provincial and local government structures, mines, industry, agriculture and individuals. In cases where communication with polluters fails, SAVE approaches the High Court to enforce the implementation of legislation to stop the pollution.

In May 2018, the Sebokeng WWTP fails completely. The ELC cites ‘vandalism’ as the cause. 120 million litres of raw sewage flows daily into the Vaal via the Rietspruit. The ELC argued a lack of funds left to remedy this and are placed under partial administration. In July 2018 SAVE meet with the COGTA administrators and were assured remedial plans were in place. No action was ever effected.

Interventions – Two decades of activism In 1999 SAVE successfully challenged Sasol Mining’s licence to mine an ecologically sensitive area of the Vaal in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In September 2019 the Human Rights Commission (HRC) launch an inquiry into human rights contraventions as a result of pollution. The HRC Report is still eagerly awaited a year later.

The last twenty years have seen huge increases in sewage pollution on the Vaal. This impact was communicated to then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF now DWS) and also to the Emfuleni Local Council (ELC). Only in 2007 did DWAF announce the building of a new sewerage infrastructure. But this was never implemented. The same occurred with ELC’s sewerage works. Pollution thus escalated rapidly. By the late 2000s SAVE had obtained five court interdicts against the ELC for illegally discharging raw/partially treated sewage into the Vaal. The infamous Sebokeng Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), a principal offender, had a Band-Aid applied to it. This insufficient short term action failed and led to the Rietspruit becoming the principal source of raw/untreated sewage into the Vaal River system with huge knock-on effects downstream.

In late 2019 the SANDF were deployed by the Finance Minister to try and resolve the mess. Some good work was done by the sappers till they too ran out of funds and had to stop. In early 2020, Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT) take over the fiasco and request SAVE to allow a stay of execution until June 2020, to get things moving. ERWAT have not shown any progress and SAVE awaits a court date to prosecute those responsible. Although DWS has promised a R750 million public tender for rehabilitating the Sebokeng WWTP, this has not been advertised tender as legally required. In recent weeks the Metsimahalo WWTP illegally disposed raw/partially treated sewage into the Vaal Dam and River via open trenches over farmland close to Denysville and Refengkgotso. R120 million was allocated for fixing this WWTP back in 2016. Nothing was done. This has also happens in Standerton and other built-up areas on our poor river.

In 2010 the High Court granted SAVE an interdict against the Ngwathe Local Council for its Parys sewerage works’ pollution. SAVE also successfully appealed against a proposed mining extension close to the Vaal by the New Vaal Colliery. www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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Save has maintained a major effective campaign over all this time on all forms of media.

sandfish was in Dr. Paul Skelton’s freshwater fish field guide when I was a teenager. Subsequently, while searching for Clanwilliam yellowfish in the Olifants River a farmer told me how he had seen ‘thousands’ of migratory sandfish disappear from the Olifants River flowing past Citrusdal in the mid-1990s. I listened with much interest and worry. The worry grew more intense in the 21st century when I learned that these fish were considered extinct in the Olifants system.

Conclusion As if this sewage was not enough, the Vaal also has other serious pollution like acid mine drainage, plastics, other litter and air pollution affecting all users of the river. Disappearing:those responsible and accountable, a functioning sewerage system, a sustainable ecosystem and hundreds of millions Rands of allocated funds are all missing in action. This affects the functioning of South Africa’s economic hub and has a massive impact on its people and all other creatures.

More than twenty years after I saw a drawing of a sandfish in the field guide I finally laid eyes on a live one, thanks to hard field work by aquatic scientists from the Freshwater Research Centre (FRC) and CapeNature. They located and monitored two segregated, adult breeding populations in the Cederberg wilderness area; I visited one of the rivers in 2017 and could immediately tell that there were not many sandfish left ...

Remaining:- Vaal River system pollution and massive corruption by officials and other parties. There appears to be no end in sight. While this is a bleak and sombre picture, there has been lots of behind-the-scenes thankless work done on your behalf by unpaid volunteers who recognise the severity of the situation. We’d all rather be fly fishing. FOSAF/YWG works hand in hand with SAVE other partners and local communities. The consortium’s determination and presence at relevant meetings and on the various media remains important in highlighting these problems.

It was only when Dr. Jeremy Shelton (FRC scientist) took on the Saving Sandfish project in 2019 that many of the people, including me, that were deeply concerned about the survival of this species could finally stop stressing and take a breather. A Doring River survey in 2013 showed a sharp decline in sandfish numbers, and an absence of young fish indicated widespread recruitment failure, early signs of extinction and the reason for much concern. Jeremy and a team of scientists rescued over 600 baby sandfish at the end of 2019, fish that were guaranteed to be eaten by bluegills and bass, alien predatory fish that were the main reason for the failed sandfish recruitment in the Doring River.

That’s how we get things done - we share our positive commonalities and act. We invite you to join us! Chris Williams

SAVING THE CLANWILLIAM SANDFISH The baby sandfish were stocked higher up in the Biedouw River catchment above a bass barrier and they will be monitored there until they are mature. This is also where I eventually (and finally!) caught my first sandfish on fly, after an epic emotional journey that I embarked on 25 years ago.

Dr Leonard Flemming It was in a 2013 sandfish presentation by Dr. Bruce Paxton at CapeNature head office in Cape Town that I realised I may never even get a chance to see this fish, never mind catch one on fly. The first time I read about a www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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I have since been targeting the odd large fish I’ve come across on the lower Doring and it’s a super technical, hit and miss affair. Pure adrenalin pumping stuff placing a tiny nymph in front of a tailing fish and watching them swim over the fly to suck it up. If you get lucky by guessing the strike right (they seldom pull the indicator down), you get to experience a fight very similar to a large trout (some sandfish even go airborne, completely clearing the water).

and the project findings and recommendations and can if flawed, easily be challenged at that stage. FOSAF/YWG, like many other people and bodies, are concerned about the illegal gillnetting that is taking place throughout the country, including on many of our estuarine systems. There appears to be an unwillingness by the responsible government departments to halt this very damaging practice. We see no engagements with and between relevant stakeholders around this problem nor proper efforts aimed at ensuring sustainable livelihoods. While some believe a command control approach may be called for in the short-term this is not a viable longter m solution to ensuring buy-in and compliance.

It is an amazing large cyprinid, full value package on fly – which of our indigenous, large cyprinids aren’t? Go find them; it is a proper treasure hunting experience in one of the most scenic places in our country. And once you’ve found Clanwilliam sandfish you’ll realise just how fragile the population is and like FOSAF, you may want to throw cash at conserving them as well.

FOSAF/YWG representatives have attended virtually all the workshops held to discuss the draft freshwater fisheries policy. Our submission contains a clear statement that we oppose gillnetting together with reasons for this including, that it is not a sustainable method of harvesting fish. In addition gillnets are a major cause of pollution and problems because they are lost or abandoned.

Read more about the sandfish here: http:// frcsa.org.za/news/saving-sandfish/. The Freshwater Research Centre is a non-profit organization and donations towards the Saving Sandfish is much needed – contact D r. J e r e m y S h e l t o n f o r m o r e i n f o : jeremy@frcsa.org.za FOSAF has provided funding to support this research project aimed at Saving the Sandfish. Please add you support!

At the same time, we have highlighted that poor communities and small-scale subsistence fishers should be granted equitable access to public state owned waters. We see the need for a positive contribution offering workable sustainable alternatives in the development of the policy. This has become an issue of serious contestation. This is particularly so where poor communities and small-scale subsistence fishers believe or perceive that their equitable access is being thwarted by elitist or racist agendas.


What is needed is constructive engagement - with all parties, including government being willing to consider a full spectrum of viable alternatives aimed at addressing all the concerns raised, so that the benefits of our fresh water fisheries are equitably shared and sustainably preserved for future generations.

At the same time we believe that the research project at Vanderkloof Dam which has only a couple of months to run should be completed and the data analysed and made available to all interested parties even though several scientists believe the trial to be fatally flawed. Such flaws as there may be will no doubt become evident in the data www.saflyfishingmag.co.za


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Southern African Flyfishing Magazine October November 2020  

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