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KING FOR A DAY AT JURASSIC ISSUE 20

MARCH | APRIL 2020

FREE

THEMISSIONFLYMAG.COM

A 135CM XMAS PRESENT, THE BEST FLY FISHING BOOKS, MACHACA, EVENT HORIZON, THE CONSERVATIONISTS, BEERS, BEATS & MORE


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WANT MORE ABSORBENT READING MATERIAL? For the finest stories, profiles, destinations, adventures, gear, beer and more...


W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M ISSUE 20 MARCH / APRIL 2020

CONTENTS An angry ‘chromer’ rainbow in front of Jurassic Lake Lodge, Patagonia. Photo Ryan Janssens

18 BETWEEN THE LINES Tom Sutcliffe on the best fly fishing writers you should be reading. 30 KING FOR A DAY Tudor Caradoc-Davies and Ryan Janssens go to Jurassic Lake Lodge and blow their minds. 50 THE CORPORATE CONSERVATIONIST Leonard Flemming on the call of conservation and how guys like Garth Wellman have brought business smarts to the Orange river. 66 EVENT HORIZON Our reviewers got their hands on Horizon’s 1, 6, 7 and 9-weights from their new ranges. They fished them hard. Here are the results. 88 A 135CM XMAS PRESENT Even the pros dream about special fish. Because he was a good boy, guide Cameron Musgrave got a visit from Santa out on Cosmoledo.

REGULAR FEATURES 12 Wish List Fish 14 Booze & Beats 16 The Little Guy 24 High 5s Surf meets turf on the shores of Jurassic Lake. Photo Ryan Janssens

80 Salad Bar 86 Pay Day 96 Lifer 106 Pop Quiz


T U D O R CA R A D O C - DAV I ES

A TEST OF CHARACTER With so much going on around us, it defies logic that anyone would be against a cleaner, greener planet. There’s the monstrous scale and frequency of natural disasters like the fires in Australia and the Amazon and the unprecedented record temperatures in the Antarctic, which at 20.75 Celsius/69.3 Fahrenheit is balmy enough for Germans and Brits to start erecting deckchairs by the pool. There are the emaciated polar bears drowning in the melting Arctic, the poor bloody pangolin (which in a cosmic twist of fate now seems partly responsible for the Coronavirus), the Orangutan pushed to extinction by the palm oil industry we support in almost every arbitrary supermarket product and on and on.

Camp Fire conferences on the Bokong trade in brown trout futures. Photo Micky Wiswedel

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here’s a New Yorker cartoon by Tom Toro that’s been doing the rounds for a few years, which brilliantly encapsulates the madness of our times. A man sits in front of a cave fire, as a rag-tag group of children listen to him tell a story. He wears a tattered suit and tie, which along with the faded etchings of city’s skyline lit up by the shadows of the flames on the cave wall, are the only remnants of our lost civilization. The caption reads, “Yes, the planet got destroyed. But for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders.” It’s funny, but it’s also not, because we have this sneaking suspicion that we really might be heading that way. What makes it worse, is that as individuals we feel pretty helpless about doing anything about it, because how the hell do you reverse the centuries old momentum of massive industries and global economic systems? It can all feel a bit much, especially as we watch the real-time disintegration of democracies, cloaked behind a post-fact deluge of social media and propaganda masquerading as news, walking in lock-step with the mass disregard for science from certain factions. “Flooding the zone with shit,” as scum-bucket extraordinaire, Steve Bannon, so elegantly puts it. That’s why your Uncle Bert believes his “gut feel” about climate change is more valid than the findings of thousands of scientists.

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But before we all slit our wrists and sink into Hartbeespoort Dam for the poeskets to suck our blood dry, it’s worth noting that for all the doom and gloom, there are signs that the tide is turning. Protest action and legal challenges to environmentally damaging projects like oil sands mines in Canada or a titanium mine in Xolobeni on the Wild Coast have had an actual impact. Many of these projects are either being shut down or are stuck in limbo. Big money is starting to take notice. Mega-banks Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan (the largest financier of fossil fuels) recently announced they are phasing out Arctic drilling and committing to clean energy and sustainable projects instead. They don’t deserve praise for this – it’s the obvious, ethical move for a planet in peril, but we can at least cheer the momentum big money brings to policy change. Rather than be the man in the suit in the cave, legendary investor Jeremy Grantham who predicted the 2000 tech crash and the 2008 financial crisis, pledged almost his entire $1 billion fortune to fighting climate change. In a recent interview with Bloomberg he had this to say, “Capitalism has this strange ability to kind of paralyze the altruistic part of humans. So at the weekends, they’re altruistic, they love their grandchildren. Then, during the week they take on the character of the corporation whose only job description, says Milton Friedman, is to maximize short term profits. If a human being does nothing except maximize their self interest, they’re a sociopath. That’s how it’s defined.” Is that who we are as humans and as fly anglers? How many of us give a shit when we are in nature on the weekends when we fish, but are ultimately part of the problem in myriad other ways? How many of us are 2-day altruists and 5-day sociopaths? Can we, as explored in Leonard Flemming’s piece The Conservationists (pg 50), step up and make a difference within our own industries? It has to start somewhere.

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TH EM I SSI O NF LYMAG . COM

When it’s as hot as Hades in Paarl and the carp are being dickheads, be good to yourself fella and reach for a cold one. Photo Platon Trakoshis

EDITOR Tudor Caradoc-Davies ART DIRECTOR Brendan Body CONTACT THE MISSION The Mission Fly Fishing Mag (PTY) Ltd 25 Firth Road, Rondebosch, 7700, Cape Town, South Africa Info@themissionflymag.com www.themissionflymag.com

EDITOR AT LARGE Conrad Botes COPY EDITOR Gillian Caradoc-Davies ADVERTISING SALES tudor@themissionflymag.com

CONTRIBUTORS #20 Leonard Flemming, Tudor Caradoc-Davies, Thomas Enderlin, Federico Hampl, Brian Chakanyuka, Cameron Musgrave, Tom Sutcliffe, Jazz Kushke, Conrad Botes, Cameron Mortenson PHOTOGRAPHERS #20 Leonard Flemming, Platon Trakoshis, Andre van Wyk, Matt Gorlei, Tudor Caradoc-Davies, Micky Wiswedel, Stu Webb, Cameron Musgrave, Gabby Musgrave, Ryan Janssens, Thomas Enderlin, Federico Hampl, Garth Wellman, Kalahari Outventures, Robert Yaskovic

THE MISSION IS PUBLISHED 6 TIMES A YEAR. THE MISSION WILL WELCOME CONTENT AND PHOTOS. WE WILL REVIEW THE CONTRIBUTION AND ASSESS WHETHER OR NOT IT CAN BE USED AS PRINT OR ONLINE CONTENT. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS MAGAZINE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF THE MAGAZINE OR ITS OWNERS. THE MISSION IS THE COPYRIGHT OF THE MISSION FLY MAG (PTY) LTD. ANY DUPLICATION OF THIS MAGAZINE, FOR MEDIA OR SALE ACTIVITY, WILL RESULT IN LEGAL ACTION AND AN INTRODUCTION TO WATERBOARDING 101 WITH LEONARD FLEMMING.

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@THEMISSIONFLYMAG MEMBER OF THE ABC (AUDIT BUREAU OF CIRCULATION)


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WISH LIST FISH

MACHACA BLOODY VEGANS,* THEY’RE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING THE RIVERS OF COSTA RICA WHERE THE AGGRESSIVE RAZOR-TOOTHED MACHACA LIVE. THE BOYS FROM TROPICAL FLY COLLECTIVE (IG: @TROPICALFLYCOLLECTIVE) GIVE US THE SKINNY ON THESE CHUNKY LITTLE BREEKERS. TOP TIP: AIM FOR LAVATORIAL ACOUSTICS.

WHAT: Sharp piranha-like teeth, large receptive eyes, and a powerful tail make the machaca a formidable predator… except it feasts on the most unlikely of prey - fruit and flowers. This aquatic mandolin of Costa Rica’s lowland rivers races with lightning speed and accuracy out of its lies in fast current to demolish vegetarian edibles as they drop from the overhanging branches. Growing to just under 10 lbs. and often found in large groups, this feisty forest fish is sure to emerge as one of the tropical fly-fishing world’s most sought quarries. WHERE: The machaca inhabits lowland rivers throughout Costa Rica, and relatives of the machaca can be found as far south as Argentina. Some of the best rivers to target machaca are along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, where thick rainforest line the riverbanks and monkeys serenade anglers as they pursue their aquatic prize. Bycatch on these rivers can include rainbow bass, aka guapote lagunero, and Pacific snook. HOW: The key to fishing fruit patterns is achieving a proper “kerplunk”, or in local lingo “plook” when your fly hits the water. The very best are made of old wine corks sculpted

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and painted into green and yellow orbs, making the art of tying machaca flies doubly rewarding for the tier (someone has to empty the bottles). Fast-action slightly shorter rods, like the Thomas & Thomas SS series, in 6-8-weight paired with floating lines allow you to chuck and duck with ease. WHO: With us, duh. Our company releaseflytravel.com runs machaca trips on a single-day float or a multi-day exploration of a variety of rivers. Due to the mighty rivers in which machaca live, they are best targeted from a whitewater raft with an experienced fishing guide. Or strap on some boots and brave the rainforest critters along the bank of most any local river. Whatever your poison, we have you covered. For more on this wish list fish catch Machaca, the film by Tropical Fly Collective (AKA Thomas Enderlin and Federico Hampl) doing the rounds on the Fly Fishing Film Tour. Visit flyfilmtour.com (global) or f3tsa.co.za (South Africa) for a venue near you. *For the record, we love vegans.

Watch the MACHACA trailer here

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HOMEGROWN TIGERS

OUR PONGOLA TIGERFISH SAFARI - TICKING ALL THE RIGHT BOXES

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FODDER

BOOZE & BEATS “ALL THREE ARE INFINITELY QUAFFABLE DEPENDING ON WHAT YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR”

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THE BOOZE – 90210

OK, OK, 90210 is just a fancy name for a Fernet and Coke, which is Argentina’s answer to a brandy/ brannewyn and coke, skop jou hond ‘n coke, karate juice and black death etc. Regardless, we shmaak it.

THE BEER – RHODES BREWING COMPANY

Not only the troutiest place in South Africa, the Eastern Cape hamlet of Rhodes also sports a cracking craft beer or three, thanks in part to the arrival on the scene of the Rhodes Brewing Company. We recently tested the Avalanche Ale, the Blackout Stout and the Blizzard Blonde, named after three notable events in the village’s history, namely the avalanche of 1893, the three-week blackout of 1922 (pre-Eishkom’s troubles) and the freak blizzard of 2011. All three are infinitely quaffable depending on what you’re in the mood for. If you’re visiting Rhodes for the Dirt Road Wild Trout Association Festival (wildtrout.co.za) from the 17th to the 21st of March this year we recommend: - slaking a thirst a thirst with the Blonde after a long-day on the river. - pairing the Ale with a hearty spit braai. - staying warm and cosy with the Stout if the weather turns. facebook.com/RhodesBrewery

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Italian booze brand Fernet Branca hails from the greater amari family of bitter liquers (think Campari, Jagermeister, Underberg). As bitter as your ex, yet herbal instead of acid, some describe it as liquorice without the sugar. Put simply, it’s an acquired taste. But, when you are indulging in a delicious and sizeable asado lunch, say at Jurassic Lodge (page 30) you want something that: A) won’t put you to sleep like the Malbec. You have fish to catch in the afternoon dammit! B) is not too sweet. After all, you are no longer 11. The bitterness of the Fernet and the sweetness of the Coke balance each other out. C) works as a digestive to process all that meat. This cocktail, also called the Fernandito, came out of the Argentine province of Cordoba. The (Beverly Hills) 90210 reference allegedly refers to the quantities you want in the mix: 90% Fernet, 2 ice cubes and 10% Cola. Ours are more like 60240. Ingredients 5 cl Fernet-Branca Ice to taste Complete with Cola


THE SERVICE THE HAZE CLUB

It’s been a long time coming, but finally, all over the world marijuana is getting legalised. Places like Canada and the US (who ironically led the war on drugs) are now at the forefront of the big weed business. States like Colorado have raked in $1 billion in state revenue since they legalised it. Drive through the industrial areas of Denver and you’ll see the giant warehouses of weed brands. Illinois, which legalised it on the first of January, made $3,2 million on opening day alone.

BRIAN CHAKANYUKA - ISLAND STYLE BEATS Alphonse Fishing Co’s media producer Brian Chakanyuka spends a lot of time out on the flats of the Seychelles Outer Islands making guests look good. “Drop your chin, Yevgeny! No, the other one.” So, when he and the other backroom staff and guides get time off, they need to kick back and take advantage of where they work – paradise. Having some lekker tchoons helps with them chillax. Here’s Brian’s playlist of Island Style Beats. 1. Maverick Sabre - I need 2. Mike Posner - Move On 3. Stefflon Don - 16 shots 4. Kerala Dust – Closer 5. Stormzy - Own it ft. Burna Boy & Ed Sheeran 6. SAINt JHN - Roses (Imanbek remix) 7. Gashi - Safety ft. DJ Snake 8. PARTYNEXTDOOR - Loyal ft. Drake 9. The Notorious BIG - old thing back ft. 10. Ja Rule (matoma remix)

11. Major Lazer - Be Together ft. Wild Belle 12. Echosmith ft Sofia Karlberg - Cool Kids (KLYMVX Remix) 13. For King & Country - God Only Knows (R3HAB Remix) 14. Ed Sheeran ft. Chance the Rapper Cross Me 15. Milky Chance - Alive 16. Waifs and Strays - Body Shivers (Hot Natured Remix) 17. Dennis Lloyd - Nevermind 18. Micasa - Turn you on 19. Eskei83, Drunken Masters & Gunjah - Rave

20. Snoop Dogg - That’s that shit 21. Kaak & Smaak - Thinking back 22. Crazy P - heartbreaker 23. Jimmy Hendrix - Who Knows 24. The Rolling Stones - Can’t you hear me knocking 25. Marlon Asher - Ganja Farmer 26. Two feet under - Go F**k yourself 27. ZHU, Tame Impala - My Life 28. Darius - Hot Hands 29. Glass Animals - Gooey 30. Brooklyn Funk Essentials - I’ve got cash

PRESS PLAY


THE LITTLE GUY

SCOTT LOWRY BADASS BL ADES WITH RECL AIMED SKATEBOARD DECK HANDLES, MADE BY A FLY FISHERMAN IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?

Who are you and what do you do? My name is Scott Lowry and along with my dad, I custom make a range of knives and axes in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2009, while I was looking around an online fly fishing discussion forum, I found a post from someone in Wisconsin who went by the moniker Rancid Crabtree. He described how he made knives with basic hand tools in his garage. This piqued my interest, as I have always loved making things with my hands. It took me weeks to find the right steel and wood for the handle, but once I had the basics I couldn’t stop. From the beginning, it was critical for me that my knives were used. The first 12 knives I made were all hunting or utility knives. When I ran out of friends who could use that sort of knife, it dawned on me that I should combine a love for cooking and knife making. That was the start of Lowry Bladeworks, eleven years ago. The next step was to pair up with my dad, Dave Lowry. He’s a retired engineer and now we manufacture Lowry Kitchen knives together.  What do you specialize in?  We have made more than 20 styles from carving, filleting, Santoku, Chef’s, cheese and rigging knives, to cleavers and a kitchen axe. We’re making new ones all the time.  Most

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of my knives are made of Swedish  or Austrian stainless steel and many of them have handles made from reclaimed skateboards. A few years ago we stumbled onto the fact that a lot of skateboarders keep their old broken decks so we convinced a few of them to part with their stash in exchange for a custom kitchen knife. Lots of experimenting resulted in a method to deconstruct the skateboard decks, stick the laminate back together into different patterns, stabilise the wood (in a vacuum with epoxy) and hey presto! - a new, unique knife handle material.  Which of your blades should we look out for?  I am fanatical about travelling with my own knives. Cooking meals while away with friends is often a big highlight of a weekend away and I don’t want to find there are terrible knives to prep the meal with. So the knives I travel with have become my firm favourites. I always take an all-rounder like one of our Santokus or a Western-style Chef’s knife and a small paring knife like the Long Dog. You can prep most meals with two knives like that. Fly anglers should check out our rigging knife that features a bottle opener and comes with a sheath. Contact Lowry Blades via Facebook - facebook.com/ Lowrybladeworks or Instagram - @lowrybladeworks for more.

W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M


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UNDERCURRENTS

BETWEEN THE LINES S OU T H AFRI CA’ S M O ST CE LEBRATED FLY F I S H I N G AU T H O R, TOM SUTC LIFFE, ON THE A B I L I T Y TO CRE AT E A N I M AG INED REALITY O U T O F WO RD S . I N S H O RT, LIV ING YOUR FLY- FI S HI NG I N P RINT.

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n one of my recent newsletters I quoted a piece from Roderick HaigBrown’s book, A River Never Sleeps, and it resulted in a long debate with a few friends about who the best angling writers of all time are, with more contest about  who isn’t on anyone’s list than  who is;  the sort of debate that often ends up as useful as barking at the moon.

For example, my quickly sketched shortlist included, not in any order, Harry Middleton (The Earth is Enough), Ted Leeson (The Habit of Rivers), Nick Lyons,  (Bright Rivers  ),  John Gierach (Trout Bum), Robert Traver  (Trout Madness), all very gifted, all very readable.  Bear in mind these are the nontechnical writers, ie not the La Fontaines, or the Swisher and Richards etc. My friends and I differed here and there in selections, but we’re still pals. Then, when I’d stopped barking at this particular moon, I realised I’d left out Ernest Hemingway (Big Two-Hearted River) and Thomas McGuane (The Longest Silence). And there are a few others; like Negley Farson (Gone Fishing), Steve Raymond (The Year of the Trout), James Babb (River Music), Oliver Kite (A Fisherman’s Diary), which is like leaving batsmen such as Don Bradman and Brian Lara out of a list of notably gifted cricketers. So be it. The fact that I list only one book above against each angler is just a matter of space not selection. But what was worrying and what prompted this article, was a discussion I had with Tom Lewin and Dean Riphagen of Frontier Fly Fishing a few months ago. Both suggested that any debate about who were the great angling writers of our time is probably irrelevant, because young fly fishers don’t read angling books that much anyway, at least not the classics. They suggested that if you mentioned the name Ernie Schwiebert in the company of a bunch of young anglers many of them would ask, ‘Ernie who?’   So what’s my point? Or as Sol Kerzner apparently often asks, ‘So what’s the bottom line?’  If modern anglers  aren’t reading angling they’re missing out on one of fishing’s greatest pleasures. It’s as simple as that.  Because to live something you love through reading it instead of only experiencing it knee-deep in a cool stream, is just as exquisite. That’s what I want to prove to any non-believers.

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The Owens river in California, possibly the only water in America restricted to dry flies.


I’ll start with two quotes from the preface to Ted Leeson’s book, Inventing Montana, to give you an insight into his ability to describe a place. See how you like it.

...Montana begins in an arc of stony vertebrae on the long spine of the Americas, in the ribs of rock and veins of rivers, in a skin of soil and the pulse of seasons. or … ...Montana is a word that closes distances; a name for a curved roof of sky and the place fashioned beneath it. It’s not surprising that many regard Haig-Brown as the greatest angling writer of our time. His prose reeks of your own recognised experiences, is not overly descriptive, occasionally almost numinous. I guess those who might contest my observation on his lofty status might well ask, ‘How can Ernest Hemingway be left out?” I’ll leave you to decide for yourselves based on the following passages from both. First, three separate passages from Haig-Brown’s writings:

Were it not for the strong, quick life of rivers, for their sparkle in the sunshine, for the cold grayness of them under rain and the feel of them about my legs as I set my feet hard down on rocks or sand or gravel, I should fish less often. There will be days when the fishing is better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home.

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I have been, all my life, what is known as a conservationist. It seems clear beyond possibility of argument that any given generation of men can have only a lease, not ownership, of the earth; and one essential term of the lease is that the earth be handed down on to the next generation with unimpaired potentialities. This is the conservationist’s concern. And next, three separate passages from Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River a short story that many regard as the best fly-fishing prose ever written and his novel The Old Man and the Sea the greatest fishing story ever written:

Nick sat on the logs, smoking, drying in the sun, the sun warm on his back the river shallow ahead entering the woods, curving into the woods, shallows, light glittering, big water-smooth rocks, cedars along the bank and white birches, the logs warm in the sun, smooth to sit on, without bark, gray to the touch; slowly the feeling of disappointment left him.” Nick looked down into the clear water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their positions by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time. A kingfisher flew up the stream. It was a long time since Nick had looked into a stream and seen trout. They were very satisfactory. As the shadow of the kingfisher moved up the stream, a big trout shot upstream in a long angle, only his shadow marking the angle, then lost his shadow as he came through the surface of the water, caught the sun, and then, as he went back into

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the stream under the surface, his shadow seemed to float down the stream with the current, unresisting, to his post under the bridge where he tightened facing up into the current. Nick’s heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling. If you haven’t read this story, please do me a favour: before you leave this mortal coil read Big Two Hearted River. Then think about what you’ve read. Then read it again. Then remember, that Hemingway’s simple theme  for this brief, two-part story, was to capture the experience of a young angler on his return to his small rural hometown, Seney, in Michigan, only to find it burned to the ground like the WWI battlefields he had just left. If the first piece sounds too clipped to your ear, too simple, it may help to know that Hemingway said in a letter to fellow American novelist, Gertrude Stein, about this story, ‘I am trying to do the country like Cézanne, and having a hell of a time, and sometimes getting it, a little bit.’ The next quote illustrates how a piece of good angling prose can jolt your awareness. It is on the matter of wildness so I dedicate it to my friend Duncan Brown, celebrated author of ‘Wilder Lives’ and ‘Are Trout South African’.  Here is Thomas McGuane , from  The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing.

But from behind me came intimate noises: the door of a house closing, voices, a lawn mower. And, to a great extent, this is the character of bass fishing off the shore. In very civilized times it is reassuring to know that wild fish will run so close that a man on foot and within earshot of lawnmowers can touch their wildness with a fishing rod. And to cement the point about the delights of his close observation condensed to words, here is another piece

from The Longest Silence. It paints a scene you and I both have lived through, both know so well:

There were no rises to be seen any longer, though fish rose fairly well to our own flies, until we had six. Then the whole factory shut down and nothing would persuade a trout to rise again. While it had lasted, all of British Columbia that existed had been the few square inches around my dry-fly. With the rise over, the world began to reappear: trees, lake, river, village, wet clothes. It is this sort of possession you look for when angling. To watch the river flowing, the insects landing and hatching, the places where trout hold, and to insinuate the supple, binding movement of tapered line until, when the combination is right, the line becomes rigid and many of its motions are conceived at the other end. Ring a bell? You can’t move far through good angling writing without bumping into Nick Lyons, former professor of English, and angler still. Here he writes as an angler locked in the city, New York. You may be that same angler, locked in Johannesburg, Sydney, Bloemfontein, or wherever. You will know where. If you are so locked, then please read for me these two consecutive paragraphs from his book Bright Rivers.

“IF MODERN ANGLERS AREN’T READING ANGLING THEY’RE MISSING OUT ON ONE OF FISHING’S GREATEST PLEASURES. IT’S AS SIMPLE AS THAT. BECAUSE TO LIVE SOMETHING YOU LOVE THROUGH READING IT INSTEAD OF ONLY EXPERIENCING IT KNEE-DEEP IN A COOL STREAM, IS JUST AS EXQUISITE.”


I do not want the qualities of my soul unlocked only by this tense, cold, gray, noisy, gaudy, grubby place – full of energy and neurosis and art and antiart and getting and spending – in which that business part of my life, at this time in my life, must of necessity be lived. I have other needs as well. I have other parts of my soul.

The next section is from one of my favourite books, The Gift of Trout, an anthology where writers of the ilk of Camuto, Proper, McGuane, Middleton, Checchio, Schullery, Gierach, Haig-Brown and others, celebrate wild trout and explain in their own idiosyncratic ways why they matter. Here are two passages from the chapter Hot Creek, written by Michael Checchio. It concerns the upper Owens River in California.

Nothing in this world so enlivens my spirits and my emotions as the rivers I know. They are necessities. In their clear swift or slow, generous or coy waters, I regain my powers, I find again those parts of myself that have been lost in cities. Stillness. Patience. Green thoughts…

But the valley of the upper Owens where we stood is a fly fisherman’s dreamscape, one of the region’s few true spring creeks. Its valley floor sits at seven thousand feet in a zone of clear, spring-fed headwater of perfect trout habitat…From the valley the Sierras rise up against the sky like galleons.

Perhaps the saddest of lives goes to one of its greatest writers, Harry Middleton (On the Spine of Time and The Earth is Enough). Winner of numerous literary awards he was a somewhat reclusive fly fisher who (and this is the sad part) died a dustman in 1993 in Birmingham, Alabama, leaving only a small number of works, of which The Earth is Enough is probably best regarded. But he is – again sadly – particularly underrated, not least by American anglers themselves. His books are simply beautiful.Here is a piece from On the Spine of Time, concerning the age-long tormentor of us all. It is on the matter of fly selection.

This two-mile private meadow stretch of the Owens, is, believe it or not, the only water in America actually restricted to dry flies. It’s like an English chalkstream with rattlesnakes, or as if a Frederic Halford wandered straight into a Zane Grey sunset.

Sitting on a large, flat, comfortable stone, I took a No. 18 Royal Wulff from my small metal fly box, examined it carefully, decided it looked too well kept, too tidy, too much the imposter to entice a fish as suspicious as a trout, especially at this time of the morning. Instead of putting the fly through the expected routine of preening, making it presentable, I intentionally mussed it up, giving it a rumpled, tacky, almost ruinous look, like an insect truly fallen on hard times and in deep trouble, a morsel ready for the taking, a temptation tied invitingly about a fine, wellsharpened hook and knotted securely to nine feet of 6X leader and tippet. I find this piece so interesting, if only to reassure myself that some of my thoughts and actions on fly selection differ little in this simple act, or, at least, differ not in the highly obsessive-compulsive aspects of it.

Let’s end with Middleton again, from The Earth is Enough.

American writers are mesmerized by childhood, the quizzical journey from innocence to adulthood. What a journey it is: precarious and wonderful; frightening and alluring; delightful and tragic. Not one journey, but many, and every one of them different. I am told that money and privilege sometimes make for a smoother passage. I would not know. I only know about being a soldier’s son: the military life and the unexpected fortunes such a life brings. Luck has a lot to do with it, and I was lucky in that my luck went sour early and put me on another road altogether, a road that took me deep into the mountains, a road that led to a trout stream and into the curious and captivating lives of three old men who, by having so little, laid claim to having everything that mattered…. Okay, I rest my case. For the unconverted, angling’s scriptures are out there waiting for you. Go baptise yourself. No high priest of angling writing will drop by and do it for you. Tom Sutcliffe’s latest book Yet More Sweet Days is available from tomsutcliffe.co.za, amazon.com and selected book stores

“NICK LYONS WRITES AS AN ANGLER LOCKED IN THE CITY, NEW YORK. YOU MAY BE THAT SAME ANGLER, LOCKED IN JOHANNESBURG, SYDNEY, BLOEMFONTEIN, OR WHEREVER. YOU WILL KNOW WHERE.” 22

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Andrew Apsey in his Cape Streams office, hold all calls Justin.


HIGH FIVES

ANDREW APSEY G OI N G AGAI NST T H E CO NVE NTIONAL FLOW OF GUIDES WHO QUIT GUID ING TO ‘ G E T A R E A L JO B,’ U P ST RE AM FLY FISHIN G’S A ND REW A PSEY GAVE U P A CO R PO RAT E CA RE E R TO JO IN THE FLY FISHIN G GAME. J UDGING FROM H I S CHI P P E R VA AB, HE’S N EVER LOOKED BACK.

5 best things about where you guide? 
 1. The people you meet on the water. Cape Town is a great tourist destination and I have had the pleasure to guide clients from the United States, Europe, Australia and South Africa. The each have their own story to tell and motivation for fly fishing. 2. The variety of fly fishing, from our Cape Streams, to our local estuaries and the inshore saltwater opportunities. You learning something new each day on the water and from your clients. 3. The fishing destinations are all relatively close to Cape Town. You can leave the hustle of the city and get out on to the water for a day’s fishing, while enjoying the best the Cape has to offer. 4. My varied week. Some days I’m out on the water with clients, or spending time in the fly shop helping customers prepare for a trip. Or I’ll spend a couple of hours on the vice working on some new patterns. 5. We have a great fly fishing community with some very experienced anglers, many of whom continue to push the boundaries when targeting our local species with new techniques and fly patterns. The opportunity to broaden your knowledge and skills is endless. 5 things you would probably be doing with your working day if you had not left the corporate world? 1. Lots of emails. 2. Lots of meetings. 3. Lots of PowerPoint slides. 4. Lots of sales forecasts. 5. All mixed in with lots of fun. I was fortunate to work and learn from many incredibly talented people in my previous career. I take many of those experiences and lessons and apply them to my everyday life today. 5 fishing-connected items you don’t leave home without before making a mission? 1. Polarised sunglasses – you need to look after your globes as they are an essential tool for spotting fish. 2. Suncream and a buff – the African sun can be harsh if you don’t watch out. 3. Always take some water (and chocolate)…they can save any day on the water.

4. Some spare cash in my fishing bag…for when you leave your wallet at home. 5. A smile…to remind yourself you are going fly fishing, yes please!. 5 bands to listen to while on a road trip? 1. Bastille. 2. Old man Canyon. 3. Fink. 4. Jack Johnson. 5. Milky Chance. 5 things you are loving right now? 1. A good podcast – from NPR’s “How I built this?” to Yellowdog’s Waypoints. They are a great way to broaden your perspective and make the most of dead travel time. 2. I’m getting back into my trail running. I have always liked to keep fit and it’s a great way to refresh the mind when one’s not on the water. 3. I just got a nifty fifty lens for my DSLR camera. Now it’s time to learn how to use it. 4. A recent Wilbur Smith novel, King of Kings. I have always enjoyed his books. 5. The YETI Backflip 24 cooler. It’s a backpack and a proper cooler all in one. That’s a lot of problems solved right there. 5 indispensable flies for saltwater? 1. Clouser – simple and proven. It’s one of my go to flies when searching any saltwater. 2. Tan Brush Fly – because everything eats a mullet…those poor little fish. 3. Popper – noise, movement and action. 4. Crazy Charlie – the more sparsely tied the better and with a touch of flash. 5. Alphlexo crab – no self-respecting fly box can be without one. 5 indispensable flies for freshwater? 1. Jig style nymph - #16-18 with a little shine or hotspot to spice it up. 2. Klinkhamer – my go to emerger pattern in black and grizzly.

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3. Mona Lisa Smile - it’s a dry fly with CDC (Cul de Canard…a duck’s arse feathers), hackle and lots of fishiness going on. 4. Streamer – in black or white weighted with a tungsten bead 5. Hoppers – with a touch of orange, yellow or red. Plop and wait… 5 favourite fly fishing destinations across SA? 1. Breede River Estuary – the weather can be wild at times and the fish temperamental, but it is an amazing ecosystem. 2. Natal Midlands - great scenery to fish for brown trout in the Bushman’s and Mooi Rivers. 3. Rhodes - the quintessential freshwater fly fishing mecca of the North Eastern Cape. 4. Any of our local freestone streams in the Western Cape. 5. I will save this last one for the Orange River. It’s on my local destination hit list for this year. 5 favourite fly fishing destinations globally? 1. New Zealand ‘s South Island – the people, the rivers and those big browns - pure magic. 2. Gabon, West Africa – catching tarpon off the coast of Africa is a mind-blowing experience. 3. The Colorado Rockies – the grand scale of those mountains and the amount water you can fish is incredible. 4. The Zambezi River – the African fly fishing experience will burn deep into your soul. 5. Seychelles – simply put, it’s paradise with some pretty cool fish species to go with it (minus the sharks). 5 of the most underrated species in your book? 1. Cape Yellowtail - pound for pound one of the strongest fish to catch on a fly. 2. Natal Scaley or any of our smallmouth yellowfish species – our freshwater bonefish. 3. Grunter - when the cosmos is in balance and they happen to eat your fly. 4. Leervis (Garrick) - they are just so aggressive and hungry for a fly. 5. Redfish - the way these fish rush and eat a fly! It gives you goose bumps. 5 of the most difficult guiding experiences so far? 1. When clients have expectations of catching a fish on every cast, there are times you have to subtly remind them this it’s called fly fishing and there are no guarantees. Just enjoy the time on the water. 2. One particular day, when hiking back to the car we came across a troop of baboons and one of my clients freaked out. Thankfully, calm prevailed and the baboons wandered off without an incident. 3. When you realise the client is not as active, fit or as skilled as what is required for the fishing experience on the day. It’s so important to try to understand their abilities before planning the day or to have options to ensure the best experience.

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4. When the fishing gets tough and clients lose interest in the experience. You need to communicate with them, find that spark to get them going again and of course a fish or two always helps. 5. I will flip this last one around. One of my best experiences guiding was with a gentlemen from the U.K. He had just turned 72 and had been fly fishing for less than a year. He was so passionate and eager to learn, it was infectious and a hugely rewarding couple of days on the water. 5 people you would like to guide or fish with? 1. Kyle Simpson – head guide at Alphonse Island. Rumour has it he speaks “permit” fluently. 2. Mark Yelland – the Yellowfish whisperer himself on Sterkfontein Dam tossing terrestrials. 3. Mike Horn – the legendary South African adventurer. Just imagine his stories? 4. Yvon Chouinard – I admire his pursuit of simplicity in life, business and flyfishing. 5. My nephews – it’s time to move on from fly fishing in the swimming pool. 5 fish on your species hit list 1. Indo-Pacific Permit - a few would be nice, but I will start with my first one. 2. Roosterfish - chasing fish on a quad bike? Sounds crazy difficult and rewarding…if you catch them! 3. Milkfish – someday one has to face and tame the devil fish! 4. Sea run browns – the weather, the landscape and tempting those big browns with small flies. 5. Largemouth yellowfish – I really, really want to get one of these incredible fish on fly. 5 things you would take up if you weren’t always fly fishing? 1. Read a lot more books. 2. Any kind of other fishing, be it with bait, jigs, poppers, bread or tin foil. 3. Study to become an oceanographer. The oceans hold 97% percent of the earth’s water. That’s a lot to explore.

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Above: A big broon troot from New Zealand and oppposite page a yellowtail caught off Cape Point.

4. Become a better story teller with a camera. A goal of mine is to graduate beyond auto shoot. 5. Get involved with an entrepreneurial enterprise that focuses on solving some of the many environmental challenges that face our planet today and into the future. 5 essential ingredients for an incredible mission? 1. A creative mind set – there are always a few surprises on every mission. 2. The element of the unknown - fishing a new destination or going for a new species is always exciting. 3. A good bunch of mates to share a few cold beers with at the end of the day. 4. A pair of decent pliers or nippers – I have no desire to be gumming my food before I turn 40! 5. A little bit of wind…it can be your friend. Yes, I said it. 5 shower thoughts that have occurred to you while fly fishing? 1. Thank f**k a dragon fly nymph only grows to a few inches. That creature is prehistoric and if it got any bigger it would try eat you in a heartbeat! 2. Why do grayling smell like thyme…or does thyme smell like a grayling? 3. Why does one never feel fully prepared for a fly fishing trip? There is always just one more fly or that extra rod or line. I think we can complicate our fishing at times.

4. If I could go back a couple of decades in time, where would I like to fly fish? I am stuck between the Seychelles, New Zealand’s South Island and our very own South African coastline. 5. Will we ever win our war on plastic? Our efforts need to focus on the cause and not just the symptoms. Only changes in our behaviours can make a true difference. 5 destinations on your bucket list? 1. Mongolia to swing very big streamers to monster taimen. 2. Bolivia for the pure jungle experience of targeting golden dorado and pacu. 3. Tanzania for trophy-sized tigerfish on surface flies amongst the wildness of Africa. 4. Patagonia for its scenic beauty and trout, more trout and more big trout. 5. Cosmoledo Atoll for its remoteness and to hunt those gangs of badass GTs. 5 flies that to look at make no sense but that catch fish all the time? 1. Blob fly. 2. The grunter turd fly. 3. Tarpon toad. 4. Salmon tube flies. 5. An olive Hamill’s killer.


Louisiana redfish for the win.

“WILL WE EVER WIN OUR WAR ON PLASTIC? OUR EFFORTS NEED TO FOCUS ON THE CAUSE AND NOT JUST THE SYMPTOMS.” 5 common mistakes that most clients make? 1. Way too much false casting. It’s often linked to a lack of technique or practice. A few minutes practice before a day’s fishing is so important for enjoying the whole experience. 2. Continuing with the same approach and expecting a fish to catch itself. One needs to continually re-evaluate the conditions, change flies, fish out different drifts or retrieves. You have got to mix it up. 3. Not taking a few minutes to watch the water for a rise, look for food sources and structure or to get your bearings on the wind, the tides etc. Those minutes can make all the difference in avoiding the skunk and enjoying your day on the water. And don’t forget to take in the scenery. 4. Picking up a fly or fly line too soon. When targeting a sighted fish or some fishy looking water, just be patient and fish the drift, swing or presentation. That is unless your guide suggests you pick up and cast again. Fish often strike at the most unsuspecting moment so always be fishing. 5. Not making their first and last count. Be prepared to

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target each fish with your first (and sometimes only) cast and don’t lose concentration on the last cast. Those are always key moments on every fishing adventure. 5 things about fly fishing that you may never understand? 1. Honestly, where does one begin? The learning is never going to end with fly fishing. However… 2. How come “confidence” always knows what fly the fish are feeding on? 3. Why the last cast always gets me going….fish or no fish. 4. Do fly lines and leaders go to knot tangling school as part of the production process? Why, in the heat of the moment, do they like to show up? 5. Why is the sensation of wading through water, fresh or salt, just so satisfying? Your last five casts were to...? 
Rising wild rainbows on the Elandspad, one of our favourite Western Cape streams.

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JURASSIC

KING FOR A DAY C H A N N E L I N G A B E L O V E D ‘ 9 0 S M E TA L A L B U M , T U D O R C A R A D O C - D AV I E S V I S I T S J U R A S S I C L A K E L O D G E I N P ATA G O N I A AND LOSES HIS MIND.

Story: Tudor Caradoc-Davies Photos. Ryan Janssens


I think about Faith No More’s 1995 album King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime, a lot. I only became acquainted with it in 2003 when I spent a year in Germany washing dishes, playing rugby and learning Deutsch (see what I did there?). One of my friends from language school, an Argentine called Santiago introduced me to it and I got stuck in. Then it got stuck…in my Discman, so for the better part of six months that was all I could listen to. Fortunately, with a band as schizophrenic as Faith No More, with metal, funk, choral, R&B and bossa nova stylings and a fair whack of comedy, it’s not formulaic. Throw in Mike Patton’s six octave range and you have a Rubik’s Cube of listening possibilities. When you listen deeply to anything by a half-decent band, you begin to pick up on layers of sound. A latticework of instruments and vocals reveal themselves with each subsequent listen. Or at least that’s what it feels like when you have limited options. Wherever I went, riding my bicycle through the streets of Heidelberg I was always on a Faith No More wavelength. In fact, I probably developed some sort of aural Stockholm syndrome because the lyrics from different songs have become my Pavlovian catch-phrases. Something funny happened with the potential to end in pain? “It’s always funny until someone gets hurt and then it’s just hilarious.” Track 2 Ricochet (channeling Bill Hicks) Going mental because the working world gets weird sometimes? “Being good gets you stuff. Being stuff gets you good.” Track 6 Cuckoo for Caca Need to say something sultry because there’s a bossa nova shuffle going on? My lips are moving but there’s no sound, Someday somebody’s gonna get run down E“ non posso dirigir E agora a pares Ne“ dedu indehado No ne“ naris That last one from Track 7 Caralho Voador, was perhaps the one song from that album, stuck in my Discman, that held the most mystery for me. Because it switches from English into what sounded like Spanish or Portuguese or High Valyrian (Valar morghulis), I did not understand half the lyrics. I wasn’t even sure which Latin language they were from. They were just mysterious and menacing and they became somewhat of an internal mantra for me over the years like a verbal rosary that I’d jumble around in my mouth and mumble from time to time as if I were Danny Trejo whispering someone their last rites over the blade of a machete.

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“JURASSIC LAKE LODGE HAS SPECIFIC BEATS – BAY OF PIGS, THE MOUTH OF THE BARRANCOSO AND THE AQUARIUM, WHICH INCLUDES THE 2KM OF RIVER FROM THE MOUTH UP TO THE LOWER REACHES.”


Flying in to Jurassic Lake Lodge in Patagonia, this album was even more top of mind than ever, because on our way there – Cape Town > Johannesburg > Sao Paulo > Buenos Aires EZE, transfer to Buenos Aires Jorge Newbury > Comodoro Rivadavia; photographer Ryan Janssens and I met up with Santiago, the self-same chap from Germany 16 year earlier. With an awkward five-hour gap between flights at the two Buenos Aires airports, we had time to burn so we went for midnight asado and drinks at a Viking metal bar, as you do. After one more flight we arrived in the windblown industrial coastal city of Comodoro Rivadavia, our last stop before the last short hop to Jurassic Lake, Lago Strobel, the promised land.

the three main beats and if there four groups in the lodge the mouth can be split into two beats. Then there are also the upper reaches of the river that are technically a beat themselves if guests can tear themselves away from the area surrounding the camp. We will get to that later. BEAT 1: BAY OF PIGS (Bahía cochinos!) TRACK 11: KING FOR A DAY It is not a good day, if you are not looking good This is the best party that I’ve ever been to Today I asked for a god to pour some wine in my eyes Today I asked for someone to shake some salt on my life

Despite being shattered from all the travel and weeks of deadlines, there was zero chance of chilling. After landing, meeting and greeting Nacha the manageress and her team of guides, we dumped our gear in our rooms, rigged up and within half an hour Ryan and I were approaching the fabled Bay of Pigs with an hour and a half to play with before lunch.

The contrasts here are so stark. The landscape of sunbleached rocks is lunar while the clarity of the blue waters appears tropical. Within two minutes I spot the biggest rainbow trout of my life, but like that one time in Gabon when upon seeing a tarpon I asked, “Do you get seals here?” in the Bay of Pigs I thought what I was seeing was just a log cruising in the surf. Because surfing logs make more sense in my head than trout that big.

There are specific beats – Bay of Pigs, the mouth of the Barrancoso and the Aquarium, which includes the 2km of river from the mouth up to the lower reaches. Those are

Here’s the thing – normally if I messed up seeing a lunker like that, that would be it for the day. I might catch some small fish, then I’d go back home or to the lodge, tell stories

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about this beast and resolve one day to catch it. Jurassic is the place of second, third and fourth chances, because while I did not catch that fish, I did catch its friends in that session before lunch. Five of them to be precise, each bigger than the next and all far bigger than any trout I had ever come close to sniffing. Now by this stage fatigue had been kicked to the curb, the adrenalin was flowing and my ego was busy orbiting the stratosphere. This is unlike me – I’m not that competitive a guy normally - but here I was sitting at lunch being all faux-modest about it. “Who me? Big fish? Great fisherman? Oh, not really, you know…just lucky.” I was lying, because I was starting to believe my own internal hype. You see, whenever I fish with Ryan, he kicks my ass even if he spends more time behind the camera than with a rod in hand. He’s just a better angler, but in that tiny window before lunch, he managed one fish and we were not shooting. In fact, none of the other guests got more than one fish or blanked. I started to think that maybe, just maybe in all my years of fly fishing, I just hadn’t found my niche. Maybe this, Jurassic Lake, was where I’d shine. Maybe all it took was a trip to Patagonia to unleash my talents.

I was wrong. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with where we were. BEAT 2: THE AQUARIUM TRACK 4: THE GENTLE ART OF MAKING ENEMIES All you need is just one more excuse You put up one hell of a fight I want to hear your very best excuse Never felt this much alive Right at the beginning of the afternoon session on the river beat we are fishing the Aquarium - what would become for me the crown jewel of Jurassic Lake Lodge’s beats. A large dog leg pool, it’s where fish fresh from the lake gather themselves for a push higher up the river. Within seconds, Ryan and I are laughing like mad men. We’re both into massive fish and we can’t believe our luck, how crazy is this? We land them, take snaps and go again. We laugh, again, this is fucking nuts. This is dream-scape stuff. I feel like I am on shrooms, the whole world is funny, everything I do turns to gold, each cast results in fish, big fish. Always, there’s the fear that it will turn off, that some malignant unseen god, unheralded among Zeus and Loki and Thor and Aphrodite, Athena and Odin, jealous in his

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anonymity as the God of Blank, The Almighty Mombak, will stick a celestial finger through the crowds and wet willy the crap out of our fun. Only it doesn’t happen. The fishing just gets better and better. I am invincible. I cannot put a foot wrong. I am the high school quarterback, I am the match-winning flyhalf, I am the prom king who got the girl, kicked the goal and was elected Mr Popularity too. I am Naas Botha without the talking, Elon Musk but not socially awkward, I am Deuce Bigalow Fish Gigalo. I am delusional, but it’s my dream so that’s ok. BEAT 3 & 4: THE MOUTH TRACK 2: RICOCHET One day the wind will come up And you’ll come up empty again And who’ll be laughing then You’ll come up empty again No reason no explanation so play the violins It’s always funny until someone gets hurt And then it’s just hilarious The fish are stacked up in the mouth of the Barrancoso, riding the waves in a never-ending undulating phalanx of flesh. In fact, giant fish in giant numbers is a fair description of the entire system. Wading across the river, you have to be careful not to step on the more dopey fish. They come in all forms, from the angry silver steelhead-like chromers fresh from the lake to the dark, crocodile-like fish that have spent time in the river, smaller river fish waiting for their graduation to become scud-munching silvers, plus ancient zombie-like fish that seem a few weeks short of shuffling off this mortal coil. The golden rule of any sport or hobby is don’t fix what isn’t broken. In fishing that means if you are catching, don’t change anything unnecessarily until the fish go off the boil. What we soon learn is that the rules don’t apply here. We are catching big fish with such regularity that we do the unthinkable – we experiment. We start with big black leeches with orange bead heads Spiedkops. They work. Then we try the olive strip leeches tied by Murray Pedder at Flyzinc that were sent to replenish the lodge’s supply and which MAY have been missing a few soldiers after the journey over. They also work. They were deadly in fact, possibly accounting for more fish than anything else over the course of the week. I showed the guides some giant Kelly Galloup streamers I got in Montana and the reaction was that they were too big. I gave them a shot regardless and they worked. But the point is – everything worked. Streamers in the form

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of leeches, Wooly buggers and anything else – check. Nymphs – Prince and other forms of royalty – check. Dry flies – why the hell not? Big-ass hoppers and bont Chernoybls – check. Then things get real pervey. Harvey Weinstein after three double-cognacs and an Oscars after-party pervey. I did not bring any rods because of all the camera equipment so I was using the lodge’s quiver of Thomas & Thomas rods, specifically the mid-action 6-weight Paradigm, an awesome casting rod if ever there was one. Lew Claven, our Seffrican connection and a regular at Jurassic Lake Lodge, then suggests trying the Thomas & Thomas 4-weight Lotic with a deerhair mouse. There was something in the wiggly eyebrow of his delivery to suggest that he had just offered me some KY, three hamsters and a 50 Shades Playbook

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with a knowing wink. It was wrong but enticing and well, it didn’t seem like anyone would judge me. The Lotic, a beautiful fiberglass rod I had cast a few years earlier at IFTD in Orlando is not a wet noodle in the slightest, but has this amazing action and enough backbone, it turns out, to horse in giant rainbows. The deerhair mouse? Well, I had a few on me, some from the Flyzinc stash (Hanky Mice and Double-barrel Mice) and some from Garden Route guru Leroy Botha. Leroy’s look like mice straight out of the Patagonian tundra, so I tie one on. Flicking it out and making it skate across pools on the river, ten minutes passed without a fish (an eternity in this place) and as I was about to change flies I got smashed. After this, there was literally nothing else I could try that would not work.

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“THE LOTIC, IS NOT A WET NOODLE IN THE SLIGHTEST, BUT HAS THIS AMAZING ACTION AND ENOUGH BACKBONE, IT TURNS OUT, TO HORSE IN GIANT RAINBOWS.“

BEAT 5: THE UPPER REACHES TRACK 9: DIGGING THE GRAVE Isn’t that what it’s about ? To remind us we’re alive To remind us we’re not blind Around the Thursday, Day 6, we decide to head upstream. We know we can catch vast quantities of massive fish close to the lodge in the mouth, the river and the Bay of Pigs, but because we have already caught more than a lifetime of fishing had provided, it feels appropriate to use a morning session to check out the skinny stuff. We get in the vehicles and drive up beyond Jurassic Lake Lodge’s stretch of the river, passing low hillocks where the stones are covered in green lichen on the sunward-side and black lichen on the shaded side. We surprise black-necked swans

and shocking pink flamingos in small pools in the scrub; an armadillo trundles ahead of us, but when we jump out wanting to get a closer look he disappears down a hole. We see dead foxes, shot by a local farmer and live guanacos, a llama-like camelid, on the distant ridges. We climb up onto the plateau, past shaggy ginger cows grazing on the air strip and see snow in the foothills of distant mountains revealing exactly where the icy wind comes from. After about half an hour of driving we drop back down to the river on to a more open stretch of the upper Barrancoso where we can fish again. First we climb up to a rocky ridge to check out the cave paintings, fascinating if it weren’t for the stench of a dead cow’s carcass killed by a puma as warning to other tourists. Holding our noses we return to the river. The majority of the fish here are normal-sized, at least in relation to where I come from in the Western Cape


of South Africa. Fishing the 4-weight with light tippet and dries, I am happy as Larry plucking fish after fish out of skinny water. Up here, we are given the gift of perspective, because there are some big fish, the same 10-15lb lunkers that stack up in the mouth and the lower reaches of this mad mad river, but they are few and far between, so there’s extra excitement when you see them swimming amongst the tiddlers. Over incredible meals from Chef Belu, including a proper asado one evening, we got to know the rest of the group. There were the three former Skullcandy colleagues Blake (who once made a film called TenkaraAlaska about catching salmon via tenkara), Spencer and Jeff from Salt Lake. Then there was Jim who builds airport hangers for Silicon Valley’s big boys to park their jets, Jonathan from the UK who is into luxury conservatories and lastly, Abby the striper guide and captain from Martha’s Vineyard. We rotate beats every morning and afternoon. The wind comes up, the wind goes down, yet even when it howls we catch fish. When it looks like Abby is about to get blown over by the wind, guide Luciano holds onto the straps of her waders as if handling a toddler on a leash in Walmart. Ryan and Abby hook up simultaneously, so the pressure

is on me to create the triple-up. A good fish obliges. As we bring them all in for the money shot, I lose mine. No matter, I cast out and hook up again, an even bigger fish this time. When you can expect a triple up, you know it’s not normal. By Day 2 or was it Day 3, I had given up counting or measuring or caring about who caught what and how many and how big. I never cared for those things before Jurassic and now, having gorged myself silly and broken all conceivable personal records, I am content just to go out there each day and have fun. All that stress I was carrying, that chronic-level burn-out has been scoured by the wind and the water of the Barrancoso river. After lunch one day, I take a bottle of Malbec and the 4-weight and walk the 2km to the Lodge’s boundary to fish one tennis-court sized pool I’ve had my eye on. I tie on a smallish hopper and let rip. Sipping on wine, I force myself to stay there for 45 minutes, to fish it properly and see just how many fish come out of the pool. 38 fish – two absolutely incredible, big river tanks and many medium to small fish later - later, I finally call it a day and head back to the lodge, still struggling to comprehend the fishing I had just had.

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“IF YOU ARE INTO TROUT, YOU SHOULD COME HERE, FOR WITH THE RIVER AND THE LAKE, THIS IS THE DEEPEST OF ALL TROUTY DREAMS COME TRUE AND A MUST AT LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFE.”

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THE FINALE TRACK 1: GET OUT What if there’s no more fun to have? And all I got is what I’ve had? As the sun sets on the last day, the three groups disregard the beat system and come together down at the mouth for the last hour of fishing. The American Tenkara Boyz pass around a bottle of Patrón and as we catch a few last fish, comfortable in the knowledge that we will finish the trip on a high, we feel like old hands now. There’s an understanding among us that we know this is not the real world. That we will leave and return to our homes where we will have to work a lot harder to catch fish of any size. But that’s ok. We visited Disneyland and had our way with it. I think about how to explain this place to friends, both those who love trout and those who do not, because I am convinced even the latter will love it. Former Africa correspondent Peter Younghusband wrote a memoir with the brilliant title, Every Meal A Banquet, Every Night A Honeymoon. Swop out the last part with Every Cast A Lunker and you are close to summing up the experience. If you have ever had a purple patch, one glorious moment in your life when the fishing was completely off the hook, and you want to relive that then you should come here. If you have never had a purple patch, you should definitely come here. If you are into trout, you should come here, for with the river and the lake, this is the deepest of all trouty dreams come true and a must at least once in your life. If you are not into trout, you should come here, because some of these trout and the way you can catch them them is more like fishing in the salt than regular trout fishing. If you are curious about the environment and the stark beauty of this part of the world, you should definitely come here. If the idea of mutant fish managing to not only survive but grow to Hulk-like proportions and turn into one of the best fisheries in the world appeals to you, you have to come here. On the way home, thanks to some poorly booked flights on our part, we had a lot of time to burn in airports. I don’t know why I had never thought of it before, but I eventually Googled the Latin lyrics of Caralho Voador. It turns out the title means, “Flying Dick.” I should have known. And the mysterious lyrics? They’re in poorly spelled Portuguese, not Spanish according to the forums. I can’t drive And now my index finger Shows up in my nose. Just like that, a 16-year-old mantra was broken, my Faith No More bubble burst. But it was okay, the previous seven days had already rocked my understanding of what was true, real or even possible. King for a Week, Fool for a Lifetime.

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To catch the giant rainbow trout, you must become the giant rainbow trout. repyourwater.com

MICE

For top-notch mice patterns check out the Hanky Mouse and DoubleBarrel Mouse from Flyzinc (flyzinc. co.za) and LeRoy Botha’s mice pattern via Instagram - @leroy_botha

POLAROID - ONESTEP 2 VIEWFINDER I-TYPE CAMERA

One of the guests had this brilliant little camera, which ensured we all went home with a memory or two in hand instead of digital files that get forgotten about. us.polaroidoriginals.com

THOMAS & THOMAS – PARADIGM 6-WEIGHT

The medium action dry fly wand of choice at Jurassic. thomasandthomas.com

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SIMMS – MIDWEIGHT CORE TOP AND BOTTOMS Essential for the cold conditions, you will live in these. simmsfishing.com


THE CORPORATE CONSERVATIONIST A S T O R Y A B O U T A P R I VAT E Y E L L O W F I S H C O N S E R VAT I O N P L A N

Words Leonard Flemming Photos. Garth Wellman, Kalahari Outventures, Matt Gorlei, Leonard Flemming


“One day when I’m big I want to be a nature conservationist.” That was my stock standard answer in primary school whenever new teachers posed the time-tested ice breaker question to calm a class full of ankle-biters and win their hearts. The idea of saving both wild animals and their habitat that I saw so invitingly illustrated in books was an obvious and noble cause to me. Who wouldn’t want to look after exotic beasts like the exotic hoatzin and arapaima in the rainforests of South America, or the Cape dwarf chameleons and galaxias in our nearby fynbos mountains? My German uncle, that’s who. A doctor in marine geology, he shattered my idealistic dreams when he told me in no uncertain terms that conservation was a dying field and suggested I find something, “more commercial.” I couldn’t imagine myself becoming an architect or an accountant, mainly because I couldn’t stand the thought of exchanging my fascination with fieldwork for an office job. So, I chose to go into natural sciences instead. After completing an academic ‘career’ (ten years of my life that felt like a century) with a doctorate in microbiology, the real world felt like a painful slap in the face. I soon realised that jobs involving fieldwork still required >90% screen time; that the general public misunderstood and feared GMOs like they were dangerous aliens from another universe; and more importantly, even though science could bring a wealth of knowledge and environmental benefits to the commercial world, it failed mostly due to mainstream interests to grow companies and increase their profit instead. In short, the corporate environment just felt like a trap. I spent more and more time fishing, trying to drown the thoughts of personal and ecological suicide in honey holes where humans were seldom encountered and fish were eating my flies like they’d never seen it before. However, before I totally spun out, I met several likeminded people who helped pave a new road for me. Ewan Naudé was one of them. An investment manager by trade and a yellowfish-obsessed fly fisherman, Ewan had fished the Orange River for several years. Understanding how incredible the Orange is, he had often posed the idea of starting a yellowfish conservation fund to protect their riverine habitat below Augrabies Falls. Then I met Garth Wellman. After a brief introductory telephone call to introduce myself and discuss the finer details of chasing after those purple Congo yellowfish, I soon found myself on a Pretoria river bank with him for a face-to-face meeting. It’s not exactly the place where you’d

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catch purple ‘yellowfish’ while dodging crocodiles and hippos in pristine African bush, but it was still very exciting to meet and fish with one of our country’s yellowfish fly fishing pioneers. The numerous fishing days that I have had with Garth over the years were also surprisingly memorable; great fish were landed and conversations entailed interesting fishing ideas for our indigenous barbs. Here was a guy who was a businessman by trade, but a conservationist at heart and it showed. As I got to know Garth, he explained how yellowfish distracted him from trout and other fish species at an early age, quickly becoming the main focus of his fly fishing explorations across South Africa. He developed a deep affection for the many indigenous cyprinids, so much so that he took on the task of rehabilitating a small Gauteng stream that, while it had traces of largescale and smallscale yellowfish when he found it, was suffering the effects of harmful acid mine effluent draining into it. Now the stream is thriving with yellows and he still frequently visits it to check in on his ‘pets.’ Garth’s attachment to our indigenous fish goes far beyond just yellows. He enjoys catching a wide assortment of species on fly, from the tiniest barbs, like straightfins, threespots and rosy barbs. But, at the pinnacle, he worships at the altar of our own giant mahseer-like largemouth yellowfish. It was the truly large specimens of this species that would become the centre point of Garth’s fishing world. In his words: “I no longer compare fish against each other. I just focus on what I am fishing for and I love them all. But in my world there is the largemouth yellowfish, and then there’s every other fish.”

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Garth Wellman with a farm-animal sized trophy from the Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy.

“I NO LONGER COMPARE FISH AGAINST EACH OTHER. I JUST FOCUS ON WHAT I AM FISHING FOR AND I LOVE THEM ALL. BUT IN MY WORLD THERE IS THE LARGEMOUTH YELLOWFISH, AND THEN THERE’S EVERY OTHER FISH.”


Leonard Flemming above and at right with two fish that will remind him to quit his day job and move to the desert.

The problem he and other largie-loving citizen of Gauteng faced however, was that his favourite local haunt, the Vaal River, is not what it once was. It has taken some serious knocks over the last decade, mainly due to raw sewerage spills which have left huge sections where largemouth yellowfish once thrived simply not worth fishing anymore. Having lost favourite pools and stretches of river where over the years he had caught several largemouth yellowfish over 9 kg, Garth ventured west, beyond the Vaal and even further below its confluence with the mighty Orange river. The search to find a new ‘spot’ where he could target his favourite fish led him to the Augrabies area where he floated a section of river with Craig Eksteen’s rafting company, Kalahari Outventures. While Craig had already fallen in love with the place and based his livelihood on it, Garth was also instantly swallowed by the swirling magic of the flowing haze. “We did a full-out exploratory with Craig from Kalahari Outventures. There had recently been a drought, which meant we had visibility of about 3 m. Over three days we caught eighty-seven largies of which eight were over 16 lb. And when I say eight over 16 lb, I can’t even remember how many between 10 and 15 lb we got. We were swinging flies and shit went medieval with big fish going all over the place, even under our legs. We walked out of

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there with that sense that fly fishermen often get about their regular places, that “I wish I could have fished this 200 years ago.” Except what we had experienced must have been like what fish populations were 200 years ago, they were that loose.” Realising how special it was, Garth’s Caleo Conservation Fund in a collaborative effort with Craig’s Kalahari Outventures fly fishing operation, have subsequently ‘created’ the Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy on an approximate 45 km stretch of lower Orange River. I say, ‘created’ because of course the river has existed for millenia, so this is a hypothetical conservation construct, one of massive importance to the species. Garth says, “I studied conservation initially, but realized there was no money in it. Now with my business, Caleo Capital, we can have an impact. We call this kind of project a Caleo Conservation Investment. So my interest from a business point of view is to put something back into the fisheries. I have no commercial interest whatsoever in the project - nothing.” Eco-friendly fly fishing is practiced in the conservancy by alternating between largemouth and smallmouth yellowfish rafting trips, effectively switching river sections every other week to rest large parts of river in the process.

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Guide Thembane William Tatse with a juvenile largemouth

Garth says, “The project is modelled on conserving the fish first and foremost. What we have done is we have taken the 45 km of river that we call The Blue Ribbon Largemouth Stretch and said that’s it, it gets fished only every two weeks. No single pool sees more than two hours of activity every two weeks. So those fish are forever green. It’s modelled on Tourette’s (African Waters’) Tanzanian setup. We put proper boats in, put guides on the boat, two okes fishing, going down the river on a sustainable basis.” By applying this approach along with a strict catch-andrelease policy they are hoping to have as little impact on the fishery as possible. At the same time, illegal gill netting is managed on the river to protect the near threatened* largemouth yellowfish and its habitat. Garth says, “You can’t stop subsistence fishing, because you can’t deny people a source of protein, but what you’ve got to stop is subsistence fishing from becoming commercial fishing. That’s why there’s a river ranger poaching program. The guy who was poaching? You turn him into a ranger. That guy is now floating down that 45 km of river once a week, he is paid a salary and he creates awareness within the community.” Last but not least, Craig’s weekly fishing/rafting trips involve basic tented camps with local camp staff and river guides catering to maintain a small human footprint in the area.

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Guide Taba West Phiri and his streamer production line

Garth says, “So, when we started this thing there was no employment from fly fishing - nothing. And now slowly but surely you are creating an entire economy around it. One thing that international guys love and what I have always loved is that when I go to a place like Agua Boa in the Amazon I get to fish with a local guy who has grown up on that river. That’s very cool. We’ve got local guys who have been doing drift trips for 10-15 years, who know every rock in that river, the flows and channels and they are now fully competent with a fly rod.” “Here’s some,” Garth said as he rummaged around in the boat and handed me a roll of toilet paper. I grabbed the white gold, quickly jumped off the boat and marched into the bushes to do what I needed to do. As I slowed down a few hundred metres from the river’s edge to find a comfortable rock that would suffice as my toilet seat, I noticed the deafening silence of the desert and went into that contemplative moment only a boskak can provide. It was the second half of last year when, after hearing so much about this Largemouth Yellowfish Conservancy, I was lucky enough to crack the nod to join Garth on the classic four-day largemouth yellowfish drift with the Kalahari Outventures crew. The peaceful atmosphere was occasionally disrupted by a far off cry from a baboon or fish eagle. I sat there wondering about the ever

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“SO, WHEN WE STARTED THIS THING THERE WAS NO EMPLOYMENT FROM FLY FISHING - NOTHING. AND NOW SLOWLY BUT SURELY YOU ARE CREATING AN ENTIRE ECONOMY AROUND IT”


Taba West Phiri dressed for the Augusta National prepares to lunge

expanding grape farms on the banks of the Orange, the river already nearing a standstill in the dry season due to water abstraction. I quickly burnt the toilet paper and covered the hole with sand (steps that were highlighted as important by Craig in a pre-trip prep email). I got back to the boat feeling rejuvenated, my casting arm ready for another shot at a proper largie. We cracked a few beers and glided back out onto the pool that Garth intended to fish with sunset, the oranging sun already lighting up the river in shades of naartjie. Anchoring the boat a good 20 metres above a large boulder we started casting towards the fiery flow around it. “There’s a deep hole behind that rock”, Garth said, sliding his stripping hand over the line as he anticipated a take. He had already done his homework on a previous trip by mapping large parts of the conservancy with a fishfinder, largemouths always top of mind. The tip of his floating line disappeared below the surface in a big swirl of flow next to the rock. I gathered that was the spot; my line, gliding over the glassy surface just upstream of Garth’s, now also entered the four-square-meter-hotzone. I fed more line out to make sure that the tungstenweighted zonker dropped down closer to the bottom.

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The serenading weaverbirds in the surrounding reeds were silenced by a sudden celebratory yelp from Garth. “There’s one!” he said as he leaned into a fish. He had barely lifted the rod when the big fish yanked it down and line started peeling off the reel. As I watched Garth gain control over the situation, complete chaos hit the boat as my rod got pulled flat too and line started to shoot uncontrollable through the guides. “What the..!?”, for a moment I thought my fly had somehow hooked Garth’s line, but then the two Vs caused by our lines cutting across the pool parted in opposite directions and I realised we were both into good fish. Minutes later we had two farm-animal-sized smallmouth yellows next to the boat, each just short of 4.5 kg. “Trash fish”, Garth said jokingly as he plucked the fly from his fish’s mouth and slid it out of the net. The average size of the smallmouth yellowfish we’d been catching on a daily basis, a figure easily beyond 3 kg, was astounding and even though considered as a by-catch while targeting largemouths, they already made the trip worth it. “That’s a world class fish right there,” Garth said, “Amazing how your perception of something that’s actually a trophy fish changes when your mind is hell-bent on catching largemouth yellowfish.”

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“WE’VE GOT LOCAL GUYS WHO HAVE BEEN DOING DRIFT TRIPS FOR 10 15 YEARS, WHO KNOW EVERY ROCK IN THAT RIVER, THE FLOWS AND CHANNELS”


He was right, even though we admired and talked about them, there was a hint of disappointment in an angler’s body language when a piglet smallmouth, after a long powerful run that is very similar to a largie of the same size, poked its pointy snout out of the water next to the boat. After a sip of beer, we cast our lines out in the direction of the rock again. As the fat tip of the weight forward floater neared the edge of the boulder I started to feed out line, but there was an unexpected take that felt like an electric pulse through the line. The slack got ripped off the surface in an arc of spray as the fish darted off and tightened up the fly line. It swam down the same deep channel as the big smallmouth had, but at a pace that I imagined could snap the 7 kg tippet, its momentum feeling unstoppable. “F##k, it’s spooling me!”, were the only frantic words I could get out as I arched the rod more in a desperate attempt to slow the fish down. Then, just as suddenly as it had initially taken off, the line fell slack. “Strip, strip, strip!”, Garth shouted, “It’s coming back upstream!” I felt so helpless, fumbling with the line before slowly starting to gain back some of the slack ‘swimming’ upstream towards us in a huge bow across the surface of the pool. “The fish is still on,” Garth said. Reassuringly, my rod bent from the increasing pressure as I started to make contact with the weight of the fish again. A big dorsal came up in a boil, still a good 25 metres away, but the largemouth yellowfish on the other end was finally starting to show signs of tiring.

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By the time the fish neared the boat my entire arm was suffering from spastic paralysis. The rod see-sawed over the edge of the boat as the fish made a last few desperate dives to the bottom of the river, before Garth got a chance to scoop for it with his wide coarse-fishing net. The telescopic net handle bent as it buckled under the weight of the fish. This was neither the first nor the last double figure largie of the trip; in fact each angler in our party of four landed several largemouth yellowfish over 4.5 kg in the four days fishing. Regardless of size, the unexpected speed and power of any hooked largemouth yellowfish is an addictive adrenalin rush. The days simply passed too fast, but it was long enough to leave an impression. I got a taste of Garth’s secret stash, which opened my eyes to a new world, the realm of largemouth yellowfish on fly. I also got a glimpse at what the fishing might have been like across South Africa 200 years ago. What made the experience even sweeter was the fact that it was all possible due to a successful, private conservation plan. On the cross-country drive home to the Cape I shared some of the more obvious trophy shots with Ewan. His blunt response was, “You know you’re screwed now.” He’s right. I have to go back. *The largemouth yellowfish (Labeobarbus kimberleyensis) was listed as ‘near threatened’ by an IUCN Red List assessment in 2017.

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WANDS

EVENT HORIZON W H E N F R O N T I E R F LY F I S H I N G B R O U G H T O U T A B U N C H O F N E W RODS FROM THEIR IN-HOUSE BRAND HORIZON, WE STUCK OUR HANDS U P T O C O N D U C T S O M E L O N G -T E R M R E V I E W S . There was definitely an element of nostalgia behind such a magnanimous display of selfless volunteerism. Many of us still have or have had Horizons. It’s been around a while and built a rep as a no-nonsense brand, designed in South Africa and made in Asia (along with most of the world’s rods and iPhones too). But beyond nostalgia, we wanted to find out if the three-part range – freshwater, saltwater and competition – lived up to Horizon’s reputation for affordability, durability and performance. To properly test the rods, we asked our testers to choose from across the TFS (Tactical Freshwater Series), TSS (Tactical Saltwater Series) and the new addition, the Tactical Competition Nymph Series ranges. The rods tested range from 1-weight and 7-weight TFS rods, the 9-weight TSS and the 10-foot 6-weight competition rod. They were fished for six months and in that time our testers caught everything from redfin minnows and brown trout, to Clanwilliam, smallmouth and largemouth yellowfish, smallmouth bass, grunter, leervis, tigerfish and kob on them. A L L W E A S K E D I S T H AT T H E Y F I S H E D T H E M H A R D . H E R E ’ S W H AT T H E Y F O U N D .

Photos: Jazz Kushke, Conrad Botes, Platon Trakoshis, Leonard Flemming


ROD: HORIZON TFS 1-WT TESTER: LEONARD FLEMMING TEST AREAS: STREAMS OF THE WESTERN CAPE

S PECI ES CAUG HT : REDFIN MIN N OW SPECI ES ( S I X S O FA R ) , B R OW N TROU T, RA IN BOW TROUT, CL A N WIL L I A M Y E LLOWFI S H , CAP E KURP ER, BLUEG IL L AN D L ARG EMOUTH BASS .

My first proper Cape stream rod was a Horizon TRS 3-weight; it was the best rod I had fished at that time and I still fish it today. I was so fond of the rod that I later also bought the Horizon TRS 9-weight for saltwater fish and I still fish that rod too. I have tried a number of other premium brands and I have found the Horizons equal them in performance. When I pack my gear for a fishing trip, I make sure that I pack in my Horizon rods. They are also often the first ones I rig when we reach a destination. That was reason enough for me to jump on the opportunity to test the new range of Horizon Tactical rods when they were released. Why 1-weight? I suggested a 1-weight to test as it is a rod weight that I think is seldom used by local fly fisherman, but is actually very well suited to small stream stuff, and ideal for the many small trout streams in the Western Cape (and many other parts of our country) where short casts and delicate presentations are required. I also wanted to use the light weight rod to target the many redfin species in this province, partly to tick the species boxes, but mainly to create awareness about these striking little indigenous barbs, many of which are hanging on by a thread to survive. Look & Feel The Tactical Freshwater (TFS) rods have a beautiful olive green blank that reminds me of the classic Sage XP range. When I assembled the 1-weight for the first time it felt more like a stiff 2-weight; however, once on the water I noticed how ‘softly’ and delicately it fished. While it cast a Sage double taper 1-weight line beautifully, it really struggled to turn over a weight forward 2-weight line, suggesting it is well placed in the 1-weight category. Performance I find it is a fast rod and very sensitive to takes, as well as accurate on short casts which, in small stream rods, is more important for me than casting distance. This rod is ideal for dry fly fishing and small to micronymphing techniques. It even performed fine on the bigger trout rivers of the Cape, where I generally fish a 3-weight. I was thrilled with the subtle presentations that I achieved with this rod and used it to catch many indigenous barbs, including Clanwilliam yellowfish, as well as trout. I also compared its performance with an Orvis 1-weight, a Scott 2-weight and a Sage 2-weight on the streams and the Horizon TFS 1-weight comfortably fittd in with these more established brands. “Who does no.2 work for?” 2013 Western Cape Waterboarding Champion Leonard Flemming gets answers out of a broon troot. 68


“I FIND IT IS A FAST ROD AND VERY SENSITIVE TO TAKES, AS WELL AS ACCURATE ON SHORT CASTS WHICH, IN SMALL STREAM RODS, IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR ME THAN CASTING DISTANCE.”


ROD: HORIZON TCS 10 FT 6-WT TESTER: LEONARD FLEMMING TEST AREAS: ORANGE RIVER, BERG RIVER, WESTERN CAPE DAMS

SPECIES CAUGHT: SMALLMOUTH YELLOWFISH, COMMON CARP

Why the 10-foot, 6-weight? While fishing for carp in dam shallows with Garth Nieuwenhuis I noticed how much more effective his 10-foot rod was at ‘reaching’ tailing fish; I therefore specifically picked the new 10-foot Horizon Tactical Competition rod for this purpose. I also imagined that the extra reach would come in handy when fishing for smallmouth yellowfish on an upcoming trip to the Orange River. Look & Feel This 6-weight feels long and heavy when you first handle it, but it is an incredibly strong rod so the strength makes up for its weight. Although plain black, the matt finish looks stylish and should not flash in the sun, so you stand less chance of scaring fish off when sight fishing to fish that are feeding close to you. Performance This is an absolute machine of a rod. I was completely blown away with its strength when targeting carp and smallmouth yellowfish at close range. I was lucky enough to hook a 21 lb carp on one of the outings and the TCS 6-weight held the fish within an 8 metre radius around me, the doubled rod effectively preventing it from swimming into surrounding weeds. It is by far one of the strongest 6-weight rods that I’ve fished and hence very well suited for targeting our larger cyprinids and also pulling fish away from structure. The extra reach that this 10 foot rod gave me also made a notable difference while making short casts to fish feeding in shallow rapids or on dam flats. As also expected after the first glance, this matt finish rod did not flash in sunlight, an added bonus when hunting fish at close range. The only disadvantage that I experienced was that this longer rod did not fish well in windy conditions. Final thoughts on the 1-weight and the 6-weight I really do enjoy fishing both the Horizon TFS 1-weight and TCS 6-weight and they are keepers in my view (yes, I’m buying them). When heading off to a spot with suitable fishing for those weight classes I’d typically reach out for both and rig them first, as I do with the old Horizon TRS range. Even though I believe in and enjoy supporting local brands, I feel that you are getting a high performance rod that is as capable as any of the top end rods when buying Horizon rods.

“THE EXTRA REACH THAT THIS 10 FOOT ROD GAVE ME ALSO MADE A NOTABLE DIFFERENCE WHILE MAKING SHORT CASTS TO FISH FEEDING IN SHALLOW RAPIDS OR ON DAM FLATS.”

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“THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE MACHINE OF A ROD. I WAS COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY WITH ITS STRENGTH WHEN TARGETING CARP AND SMALLMOUTH YELLOWFISH AT CLOSE RANGE.”


ROD: HORIZON TFS 7-WT TESTER: CONRAD BOTES

TEST AREAS: BREEDE RIVER, MYSTERY RIVER, ORANGE RIVER IN THE RICHTERSVELD

SPECIES CAUGHT: SMALLMOUTH BASS, SPOTTED GRUNTER, SMALLMOUTH YELLOWFISH, LARGEMOUTH YELLOWFISH.

Why 7-weight? I’m often asked why I use a 7-weight rod in the Western Cape salt. Most of my fishing buddies use 8-weights and the next rod up would be a 10-weight. I guess it’s got something to do with the fact that my first salt rod was a 9 weight and for some reason as I go lighter in rod weights I only want to fish odd-numbered weights. So the rod one down from the nine would be a seven. The truth is that I like the seven for salt, despite the fact that it might be considered a bit on the light side. As long as I can punch a cast into the wind, I’m happy. I also like using the same rod for most of my sweet water fishing, and here on the other hand, it would probably be considered too heavy. I use it for smallmouth bass and yellowfish in rivers and I feel it’s the perfect rod to use for these conditions. Performance - Grunter The timing of the offer to test this rod was perfect since I had just broken the tip of my previous go-to 7-weight rod and it had to be sent off to the US to be repaired. This happened just before the start of the grunter season and I was forced to use my 5-weight on a few occasions. While going light for grunter is fun (I’ve caught them on a 3-weight for shits and giggles on occasion) the truth is that it can be difficult when conditions get tough. During the first couple of days of the grunter season, I managed to put the stick through its paces and land my fair share of fish on it, the best days having been five grunter in a session. My first impression of the Horizon was that is very light, yet responsive and fast enough to easily toss big deer hair turds. The main problem when going with a lighter stick for grunter is a failure to turn over the fly as the cast unfolds, especially into a breeze. I felt that the Horizon did this without me even being aware of trying.  I was also impressed with its line loading ability. On one occasion I was wading waist deep in order to reach a pod of deep tailing grunter at high tide. I was without my stripping basket as it would have been underwater at that depth. When I needed to cast, the rod loaded perfectly despite the fact that half the fly line was down current.

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Another impressive feat was being able to land grunter standing in deep water. Previously I learned - the hard way – that this is not always a good idea. On that occasion I was fishing a high-end rod brand. I was wading in deep water off the bank and while trying to land a grunter by doubling the rod over in an attempt to grab the leader, the rod tip snapped at the crucial moment. After this my standard procedure was to back out on to the bank and unhook the fish in the shallows. That’s a mission when you have to slog through heavy mud. I felt compelled to put the Horizon through this test and after successfully landing a few grunts in deep water, I’m happy I no longer have to waste time backing off into shallow water, losing valuable fishing time while the grunter are tailing thick.

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“THE ROD LOADS QUICKLY, MAKING IT EASY TO MAKE A DECENT CAST WITH A BIG STREAMER ON A SINGLE BACK CAST.”

Performance - Smallmouth bass Towards the end of spring last season, I managed to squeeze in a few days of fishing for smallmouth bass on one of my favourite streams in the Western Cape. Although I would normally choose a 5-weight rod; here’s why I enjoyed using the Horizon above the fast action 5-weight.

Setting the hook must happen with a quick upwards snap of the wrist, allowing the fast action of the rod to plant the hook in the bass’s relatively hard jaw. This method of sticking came with much difficulty for an old salty dog (AKA strip striker) like myself, but I must say that despite feeling light, the Horizon was fast enough to put the hook where it needed to be time after time.

Firstly, it doesn’t feel like I’m using a much heavier stick and a decent smallie still managed to put a proper bend in the rod. The rod loads quickly, making it easy to make a decent cast with a big streamer on a single back cast. With heavy vegetation always present and obscuring one’s back cast, I think this was the main advantage of the 7-weight over the rods I used previously.

Performance - Orange River Largies At the end of last year the final testing of the Horizon TFS 7-weight happened when I joined MC Coetzer and Jannie Visser for a weekend chasing largemouth yellows on the Orange River. Stripping streamers through pools, it accounted for numerous smallmouth yellows as well as a decent largie. Having ticked the Breede salt and the smallmouth bass rivers, I found it to also be an accomplished all-rounder when it came to hunting yellows in the Richtersveld.

Because one is often sight fishing for bass in this river, setting the hook is done when you see the fish eat the fly.


ROD: HORIZON TSS 9-WT

TESTER: JAZZ KUSHKE

TEST AREAS: ZAMBEZI RIVER AND THE ESTUARIES OF THE GARDEN ROUTE

SPECIES CAUGHT: TIGERFISH, LEERVIS (GARRICK).

Why the 9-weight TSS? I’d never fished a Horizon before, but had always heard and read such good things that when Frontier approached us about their new range, I was pretty amped to give it a swing. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the terms ‘value’ or ‘budget’ when it comes to gear but, ironically, I have a long-standing love affair with products that would be classed in that bracket. They are products that box above their weight. I’ve fished G-Loomis, T&T and Scott over the years and loved them, but due to the ZAR-Dollar exchange rate much of my quiver is made up Echos and TFO BVKs. I opted for the Horizon TSS 990-4. The choice was simple - I was heading to Western Zambia to fish for tigers on the Upper Zambezi. In addition, I’m fortunate enough to be based in the Garden Route, where most of my fishing is estuary based and I alternate between 7 and 9-weights depending on the target species. The range of environs and species offered the opportunity to test the wand through a range of different line tapers, flies and casting situations. Look & Feel I have a thing about fighting butts and it’s always the first thing I look at on a rod. For aesthetics, sure, but I feel that if a manufacturer would skimp on anything to save costs this is the place. So the attention to detail here (or lack thereof) for me is always a great starting point. Pulling that TSS 990-4 from its cordura tube and out of the cloth bag for the first time was heartwarming. It has a neatly crafted AAAA cork butt fitted to a no-nonsense reel seat, all in good proportion to the thickness of the blank (which, is slightly thinner than some other 9s I’ve fished). The finish is a striking gloss blue that seems to fit its saltwater feel. Performance Most of my fishing with this rod has been blind casting using biggish, heavy flies. I knocked it around on the Wildman Fishing Co’s tin skiff on the Upper Zambezi and lugged it over the rocks around Sioma Falls where it operated in tandem with my Echo. Up there I used it with a combination of lines including: Rio Tiger Fish WF9S7 (6-7ips); Rio Jungle Series WF10F/I and Scientific

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Anglers Sonar Titan Full Intermediate (WF10I). On the local estuaries I alternated between the Titan and an Airflo Bonefish Ridge floater (WF9F). Flies ranged from bomb-weighted, mega clousers in the fast currents of the Upper Zambezi around Sioma Falls to 4/0 baitfish patterns, Sponge Bobs and NYAPs on the estuaries. There were also a few days in December where the bonito (Sarda sarda) were just out of fly range off the side here in Mossel Bay, when I employed the Rio WF10F/I in the surf and off the bricks, hoping for some magic. Over-lining is a personal preference, and in my opinion depends more on the line than the rod these days. If you are going to pair the TSS 990-4 with one line only, there is no need to over-line, and I simply did it because those are the lines I had at my disposal. We experienced some windy days on the Upper Zambezi and much of the fishing was done from shore in the side cataracts of Sioma Falls. The close confines of the gorges didn’t allow for any lavish false-casting and hitting of backing knots. I was well impressed with how quickly the ultra-fast tip loaded the sink tip lines. It performed crisply on messy reverse casts, offering good line feel and delivery with minimal false casting. Once hooked up, the TSS 990-4 really came into its own. It is sensitive enough that you always feel connected to what is on the other end of the line, but also affords you the backbone to tackle bigger fish. The biggest specimen that came to hand for me on that trip was 9lbs but you won’t have a problem with a solid double-figure fish. This was a big advantage both around the boat and in close contact keeping the fish out of the rocks. I found the marriage of the TSS 990-4 Rio Jungle Series

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“I FOUND IT TO BE A BEAUTIFULLY BALANCED ALL-ROUNDER THAT WORKS WITH A VARIETY OF LINES AND IN A RANGE OF SITUATIONS.” WF10F/I ideal for surf casting and distance in the estuary. In the salt it has accounted for juvenile leeries up to 50cm fork length for which a 7-weight would usually be fine, but the advantage of the bigger rod means bringing them to hand quicker. The current quest is also bigger flies (6/0) for that illusive 1m leerie on fly, I have no doubt the TSS 990-4 would handle that.

for tigerfish or looking for a ‘value’ saltwater rod that performs (and looks) the part of far more ‘premium’ models. Knowing that the supplier is local is pretty ‘lekker,’ which means back-up service should be a breeze. You could easily purchase three of these for the price of one of the more premium brands and be well stoked with your decision.

Final thoughts. I found it to be a beautifully balanced all-rounder that works with a variety of lines and in a range of situations. It quickly became my first-choice 9 and yes, I would buy it and recommend it to anyone going to the Zambezi

All of these rods were tested on a ‘test and return’ basis. Suitably impressed, all out testers decided to buy their test rods. Visit Frontierflyfishing.co.za for more.


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SALAD BAR FULLING MILL – PREDATOR FLIES

Heading to the Amazon for peacock bass or Argentina for dorado with Mavungana’s annual trips? You sir, need flies. Predator flies to be specific, tied on strong, sharp hooks like Fulling Mill’s impressive range. Choose from Dougie’s Perch, Dougie’s Yellow Perch and Dougie’s Roach (Dougie has a few flies it seems) as well as the classic Andino Deceiver, the ClydesDale Gold and Silver Perch and numerous other patterns that have been tried and tested on big fish. fullingmill.co.uk, flyfishing.co.za

LOON - UV FLY FINISHES

Hubba hubba! We love a hotspot as much as the next guy, but what we love more is finding easier ways to improve our production lines and Loon’s new UV fly finish looks like just the ticket. “Hot” colours let you tart up your nymphs and dries, while the lighter options give them the complex, life-like, invertebrate translucence you want in your fly box. loonoutdoors.com, xplorerflyfishing.co.za

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LOOP – ROSTO INSULATION ½ ZIP

The name, Rosto, sounds roasty, which makes us think of toast, which is hella appropriate for this warm and light mid-layer from Loop. Made from a blend of recycled polyester and elastane and treated with DWR (durable water repellent), the Rosto has incredible stretch and breathability. A micro fleece backing and high collar keep you warm when the wind bites, while reinforced stitching means you’ll have this fleece for years to come. Being based in Sweden, Loop say it’s the ideal mid layer on Spring and Summer days, which means autumn and winter in South Africa. Because it’s purposefully designed to avoid bulk, you can always throw on another layer if it gets properly cold. looptackle.com, flyfishing.co.za

“THE IDEAL MID LAYER ON SPRING AND SUMMER DAYS” SIMMS - MIDSTREAM INSULATED JACKET

SLACKTIDE – POONTERA T-SHIRT

If ever there was a vulgar display of power on the water, it’s when a sizeable poon poeses you into the next universe. Pay homage to the Silver King (and Dimebag Darrel & co) with Slacker Tide’s iconic T. slackertide.com

A good jacket = the holy grail of autumn/winter gear. It allows you to layer up without getting too bulky and lets you keep your arms free. Simms Men’s Midstream Insulated Jacket features PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation for the highest warmthto-weight ratio available with synthetic insulation. With its thin profile and lightweight feel, you can move and cast easily all day, without feeling over-layered. It offers incredible warmth for its volume and is finished with a smooth Pertex® face for wind resistance. simmsfishing.com, frontierflyfishing.co.za

A GOOD JACKET = THE HOLY GRAIL OF AUTUMN/WINTER GEAR


L AT ES T R E L E A S ES

SALAD BAR PATAGONIA - MEN’S SWIFTCURRENT PACKABLE WADERS For us, 70% of the year is spent wet wading in boardies or those ‘sexy’ flats tights, but we do need waders for our winter fishing or for when we travel to colder climes. That’s where a product like Patagonia’s Swiftcurrent Packable Waders comes into play. First off, there’s the weight or lack thereof. These things squeak in at 36 ounces, which in the metric system that pretty much the rest of the world uses (never mind the Brits and their stones), is a shade over 1kg. That’s nothing. Then there’s the fact that these things pack away into a tiny stuff sack as you would a sleeping bag… but smaller. Throw in the single-seam construction, bootie technology, free-moving gusseted crotch and a waterproof chest pocket and you have a pair of waders to take with you everywhere. patagonia.com

PATAGONIA – L/S SOL PATROL II SHIRT

Feel like a homeless smurf in a hoodie? Prefer a pocket or three on your upper body? Then perhaps you should take a look at the L/S Sol Patrol II from Patagonia Good for both fishing and travel in humid climes, this versatile shirt is made of lightweight, fast drying polyester (45% recycled ripstop with 50+ UPF sun protection As you would expect from Patagonia, it’s also Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. patagonia.com, upstreamflyfishing.co.za

FISHPOND - WOMEN’S UPSTREAM TECH VEST We love the way most brands are going in terms of eco-conscious design. Fishpond are one of the leaders with how they use regenerated nylon from fishing nets and other discarded waste in their products, like the Women’s Upstream tech vest. Melding function and environmental conservation, this lightweight design features 14 interior and exterior gear compartments, and an adjustable sternum strap for a completely customizable fit around the chest and torso. It’s got form, it’s got function and in the immortal words of Hank Patterson, it also gives a fuck about the planet. fishpondusa.com, frontierflyfishing.co.za

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ION MISSTED TES

YETI – BACKFLIP 24 BACKPACK/ COOLER

Historically, being the beer mule was something you would avoid. You’d play fives alive or rock paper scissors to avoid the dishonor of having to lug the entire crew’s beverages to wherever you planned to go fishing. The game is ruined when the receptacle is designed (via its wider build and ergonomic shoulder straps) to make that easy; to give the somewhat Sisyphean chore, a bit of style. Of course the Yeti 24 Backpack/Cooler is more than just a way to carry beer. With its superior cold-holding, a 100% leakproof zipper, and a tough DryHide™ Shell, you could probably use it for organ transplant delivery in downtown Delhi. Or, more appropriately, it works a charm as your go-to cooler/backpack for a day’s fishing, holding all your gear AND keeping your refreshments cool. yeti.com, upstreamflyfishing.co.za

REDINGTON BENCHMARK BOOTS

Sometimes it’s best not to over-stuff the sausage, overegg the pudding or over-complicate the boot. For their Benchmark boots, Redington went for lightweight simplicity. A wide sole design offers comfort and stability, the sticky rubber sole gives you great traction both in and out the water and the quick drying, abrasion-resistant upper is strong enough to hold up in technical wading situations and designed to dry out (via an improved drainage design) before your flight home. As you might have been told all your life, nobody likes a smelly bag. Also available in felt, Benchmark boots are stud compatible. That’s not what you think it means, Romeo. redington.com, xplorerflyfishing.co.za

OSPREY – DUFFEL TRANSPORTER 130

From a float trip on the banks of the Orange river, all the way to Patagonia for a trip to Jurassic Lake and even the distant estuaries and beaches of Gabon, we put this bag through its paces. It was stuffed with gear, thrown around and treated with the kind of contempt airport luggage handlers reserve for your belongings when they leave your sight. It still looks good as new. Leonard Flemming – Orange river: It’s much sturdier than I expected and has huge capacity, which is great for travelling fly fisherman with all their unnecessary luxuries and frills, i.e., those extra 4 rods (yes the bag comfortably takes 4 piece rods in their tubes), extra spools of line (that remain in the travel bag for the entire trip), extra fly boxes, and sets of neat clothes that you never end up wearing because you’re always in your fishing clothes, even at dinner. Conrad Botes – Gabon: It was big enough for all the gear I needed to take – rods, clothing, in fact there was space left over. I liked the fact that there were several compartments on the side and on top, which meant if you were in a hotel room and needed to get to something quickly you could unzip it very easily and get what you needed fast. I also like that the shoulder straps doubled up as backpack straps. Note: We got our hands a one-off on a demo 165l size model of this bag. The largest size Osprey actually makes is 130l. We have checked and that size bag is also voluminous and can comfortably fit 4-piece rods in straight on. adventureinc.co.za

“IT WAS BIG ENOUGH FOR ALL THE GEAR I NEEDED TO TAKE – RODS, CLOTHING, IN FACT THERE WAS SPACE LEFT OVER.”


L AT ES T R E L E A S ES

SALAD BAR HATCH – NOMAD PLIERS

In the post-Apocalyptic world we’ll all face if politicians and big business don’t catch a wake-up; Excel wizardry, social media marketing and the ability to write narrative non-fiction will count for fokkol. The ability to work with your hands however will be priceless. As such we imagine there will be an intense trade in quality tools, like Hatch’s Nomad Pliers. With I-beams crafted from 6061-T6 Aluminum and protected with Type II anodize, cutters made from Tungsten Carbide for abrasion resistance and reliable cuts through all fishing line material and the jaws are machined from 17-4 stainless steel made for ultimate corrosion resistance. Sure, you could use them to extract the platinum fibula of your Mad Max-style enemies or fix the engine block on an early model Tesla, but as the oceans recover from humanity’s demise we imagine they will be still be doing what they were designed for – the marine dentistry required of triggerfish, GTs and myriad other species. These pliers come with a custom Hatch bungee lanyard and black leather wading belt sheath. Available in red, blue and black from Upstream Flyfishing. hatchoutdoors.com, upstreamflyfishing.co.za

FISHPOND - LODGEPOLE FISHING SATCHEL

Vest? Slingpack? Chestpack? Lumbarpack? Minimalist lanyard? A rancid hat with flies on it? Ignoring the warring tribes, the seen-it-all veteran lights a hoagie, reaches for the Lodgepole Fishing Satchel and heads down to his private 20km stretch of river. That’s the vibe we get from this classy, old-school pack that combines a certified organic cotton waxed exterior with a surprising amount of interior functionality. As at home running around town as it is in the bundu, the Lodgepole feels like a piece of modern heritage. fishpondusa.com, frontierflyfishing.co.za

“AS AT HOME RUNNING AROUND TOWN AS IT IS IN THE BUNDU, THE LODGEPOLE FEELS LIKE A PIECE OF MODERN HERITAGE”

LOOP –OPTI REELPOWER MATRIX

– no, it’s not the sequel where Neo takes the green pill steroids and Hulksmashes the squiddies, but the backbone to the Loop Opti fly reel range’s immensely strong drag system. Both totally waterproof and saltwater resistant this braking system uses the highest standard of componentry including marine grade seals and specialized carbon braking discs. With complete adjustment of tension control, these reels are designed to have exceptionally smooth rotational start-up. Each model features a large arbor spool incorporating a unique V-shape designed for faster, more efficient line retrieval and less line memory. looptackle.com, flyfishing.co.za

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GREYS – GTS1000 REEL

Fancy fighting a Wel’s catfish, an obese Dutch pike, a Canadian sturgeon or a Hartebeespoort Dam grass carp perchance? Maybe something a wee bit smaller like a grayling, the broonest of broon troots or a carp? Whatever your freshwater craving, Grey’s brand spanking new high performance freshwater fly reel, the GX1000 demands your attention. Machined from bar stock 6061 aluminium, it features a concealed disc drag system, a lightweight industrial design, a captive spool release and comes with a neoprene pouch for storage. Available in 2/3/4, 4/5/6, 6/7/8, 8/9/10 and 10/11/12-weights. greysfishing.co.uk, ironriver.co.za

“FANCY FIGHTING A WEL’S CATFISH, AN OBESE DUTCH PIKE, A CANADIAN STURGEON OR A HARTEBEESPOORT DAM GRASS CARP PERCHANCE?”

LOOP – Q FLY LINE

Need a floating fiver for trout season? Look no further than Loop’s Q 5-weight float line, an excellent multi-purpose weight forward line solution for a cross-section of fly fishing applications. Finished in a stealth green colour to reduce line flash and enhance fly presentation, the Q’s profile is configured for effective fly line turnover in all conditions. The rest is on you. looptackle.com, flyfishing.co.za

RIO FLOUROFLEX BONEFISH/ SALTWATER LEADERS

Super clear water = super spooky fish. Enter Rio’s abrasion resistant, knotless fluorocarbon leaders that are perfect for saltwater fishing in vodka-clear water. With high abrasion resistance, excellent knot strength and a long butt section (wiggles eyebrows) for effortlessly turning over flies (undoes zip), these leaders are 9-foot long, range from 8lb (0.009”) to 20lb (0.015”) and have a hand tied perfection loop in the butt (lol) for quick rigging. rioproducts.com, xplorerflyfishing.co.za

HARDY – ULTRALITE FWDD REEL

In the left corner, weighing in at an outstanding 82gms, this minnow-managing midget made of bar stock 6061 aluminium sports a minimalist design wholly focused on reducing weight. With a super smooth drag performance and the low start up inertia of a disc drag reel, if there were an atomweight class to fly fishing, the Hardy Ultralite FWDD would hold a few belts (more Queensbury rules than Tyson Fury mind you). Available in 1/2/3, 2/3/4, 3/4/5 and 4/5/6-weights. hardyfishing.com, ironriver.co.za


M U S T H AV ES

PAYDAY

THE SHARK DETERRENT - SHARKBANZ 2

THE TENT - ABISKO VIEW 2

Time to upgrade your outdoor living quarters? You’ll struggle to do better than the Abisko View 2 from Fjällräven, renowned Swedish purveyors of top-notch hiking, camping and general outdoor gear and vowels with sexy ümlaüt/dëëltëkëns. The ‘Abisko’ part of the name refers to one of Sweden’s first national parks, the ‘View’ bit to the ingenious vista-focussed design. Made entirely without PVC plastic and toxic flame retardants, this self-supporting three-season tent (the Swedes do not consider our winter to be a real winter, because those only start at -20°c), is perfect for South African conditions, where you need that all important sweet spot between providing proper shelter when the weather turns (and protecting you from creepy-crawlies), but also giving you the ventilation you need to sleep comfortably. Doors on either side of the tent can be rolled up completely, allowing you to change your view according to the weather, and the openings provide excellent airflow for humid conditions. The inner tent and the flysheet are connected and supported by two tent poles that cross each other twice making the inner tent self supporting, while the vestibules are supported using guylines and tent pegs. The flysheet is made from Fjällräven’s new high-performance TripleRip nylon and an innovative construction that combines two different fabric weights – 20 denier in the top part and 40 denier at the bottom where abrasion is most intensive – giving it excellent strength despite the tent’s low weight. Subtext: you will struggle to break it. The inside has all the premium bells and whistles you’d expect from Scandinavian designers; ample storage, inner clothesline, and multiple attached points. The only thing they forgot is the sauna. fjallraven-shop.co.za

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We’ve all experienced it. Perhaps it happens to you when you’re fishing at night in Durban harbour, or bobbing in a float tube off Belize while going for tarpon, or casting into nervous water on the Breede river at dusk or wading in the wash of a remote Gabonese beach in the early hours of the morning. Something almost imperceptible changes, because without actually seeing a fin or having your foot bumped, shit suddenly gets VERY sharky. Cello music breaks out and a cold bead of dread-sweat trickles down your spine to your clenched poephol as you wait for something to say ‘haai.’ If you had one of these nifty gadgets, it would be a non-issue. Sharkbanz make shark deterrent bands that overwhelm a shark’s electroreceptors. While non-harmful to sharks and rays (and apparently having no effect on regular fish) it is unpleasant enough for them to give you a wide berth. Lightweight, waterproof to 100m and never requiring charging, just strap it to your ankle and fish. sharkbanz.com Want to win a Sharkbanz 2 for your fishing? Simply send us a mail at info@themissionflymag.com telling us about your sharkiest, on foot fly fishing experience. Best story wins.


“THIS FINE VESSEL WILL OPEN UP A VAST AMOUNT OF WATER YOU PREVIOUSLY COULD ONLY THINK ABOUT”

THE SUP - FANATIC PURE AIR INFLATABLE

Some rivers and stillwaters are either too bushed in, too muddy, too deep or too shallow to access easily on foot or via float tube and boat. But you know – oh yes you know – that there are fish there, fish that don’t see much pressure. That’s where the beauty of a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard), like this Fanatic Pure Air that we recently put through its paces, comes into play. Weighing in at 10kg it comes in a lightweight bag (with backpack straps), which also houses the included power pump, a fin and a paddle making it super easy to get down to the water, set up and get out there. With an integrated decknet for lashing down your gear, you are free to paddle standing up, kneel and paddle, sit back and have a beer or cast from the deck. At 10’4” it’s the ideal all-rounder to get into Stand Up Paddling and offers great balance with good glide and manoeuvrability. Whether you want to sneak up on tailing carp casting off the board or park it and wade on foot, this fine vessel will open up a vast amount of water you previously could only think about. thebrandstable.co.za, fanatic.com


PERSONAL BEST

DEAR SANTA I T ’ S N O T J U S T U S D E S K - B O U N D S C H L U B S W H O H AV E D R E A M F I S H . E V E N T H O S E W H O L I V E I N F I S H Y PA R A D I S E H AV E B U C K E T L I S T F I S H T H E Y WA N T T O T I C K O F F. O N C H R I S T M A S E V E , S A N TA C A M E T O V I S I T T H E O U T E R I S L A N D S O F T H E S E Y C H E L L E S A N D H E PA I D A V I S I T T O G U I D E C A M E R O N M U S G R AV E O N C O S M O L E D O . Photos. Cameron Musgrave, Gabby Musgrave and Stu Webb


I

have had a guiding career that has spanned ten years in the Seychelles, the majority of which have been spent on Astove and Cosmoledo. Considering that I work at these two destinations that battle it out for the title of ‘the GT capital of the world,’ I was starting to develop a monkey on my shoulder so to speak which, as the years passed by, had started to develop into a fully-grown male Orangutan. A randy one.

The reason was so basic, so bog-ordinary that, to anyone else, it sounded juvenile. My biggest GT was only 108cm. Don’t get me wrong, that was an awesome fish and one I’m extremely grateful for landing, but the size wasn’t quite up there with the PBs set by my fellow guides, many of whom had spent a lot less time on the water than myself. I felt like a respected astronomer, who has seen plenty of shooting stars, but whenever a comet hurtled by I’d somehow managed to miss it. When the Cosmoledo operation received its first push poles for the skiffs, we were very eager to test them out, because we knew this could be a game changer for getting close to big fish. So Stu Webb, myself, and my wife Gabby decided that we would go and search for the golden tails of permit. After about two hours of poling with no sighting of a permit and only a decent yellow margin triggerfish to Stu’s name, we started to pole off the flat towards the lagoon and, ultimately, make our way back to camp.

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“WHEN THAT FISH ATE THE POPPER, THE SIGHT OF ITS EYES BREAKING THE SURFACE, ITS COLOSSAL MOUTH, THE DARK METALLIC SILVER COLOUR DOWN ITS FLANKS, AND THE SHEER SIZE OF IT WILL FOREVER BE TATTOOED ON MY SOUL.” When that fish ate the popper, the sight of its eyes breaking the surface, its colossal mouth, the dark metallic silver colour down its flanks, and the sheer size of it will forever be tattooed on my soul. While it felt like the equivalent of throwing a penny down a well, somehow my minuscule 8/0 popper found some purchase in its mouth when I set the hook. The fun had only just started! As the fish took off my heart dropped when I saw a mammoth knot of what seemed like all of my running line making its way to my first guide. Yes, that kind of thing happens to guides too. Fortunately, the fish gods were with me and the knot miraculously made it through all of my guides without destroying the rod. Stu, seeing the size of the fish and knowing that we were in a minefield of coral heads, had already started the motor to follow it and possibly unstitch it from the dangerously sharp perils that lay beneath. This certainly wasn’t his first rodeo. As we reached the edge of the flat, Stu was on the pole and I was on the bow, eyes glued to the water, 12-weight in hand, ready for anything. With Cosmo being Cosmo, that has to be your default setting. In front of us were several coral heads and we spotted a smaller GT riding high around a piece of coral. Armed with a Grim Reaper Popper, which Stu had tied earlier that morning, I began to cast. As Stu held the skiff steady on the flat, I was just about to give the cast one more haul and shoot the line out to meet my target, when out of the corner of my left eye I spotted an object moving slowly towards me. I somehow managed to shorten my cast at the last millisecond and lay the popper perfectly in front of what now revealed itself as a massive GT. One pop, and the fish started to home in closer to investigate. Two pops and in an instant my life changed!

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We eventually gained enough line back to get the bird’s nest of a knot to my top guide. It defies science as to how such a big object could pass through a small opening, but one thing was for certain, the knot was never going to make it back through all the guides and on to my reel. A decision needed to be made in a hurry. I handed the rod to my wife and started to hand line the fish closer to the boat while Stu worked his magic on the motor. Luckily, the fish made its way back on to the sandy flat where it was met with screams of elation as we landed it. For many reasons I’ll never forget the 24th December 2019 because, in shattering my personal biggest GT record with what is without a doubt the fish of my lifetime, I also got to share the experience with the people closest to me. It was arguably one of the best Christmas presents I’ll ever receive. Plus, I got a randy orangutan off my back. If it takes me another ten years to catch a fish that big again, I’m cool with that. It will be worth the wait.

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PROTECTING YOUR FLY F


FISHING FOR THE FUTURE From headwaters to court rooms, fighting the pollution of our rivers or challenging the disproportionate legislation of the authorities, FOSAF works for you. For just R300* for a year’s membership you can do your bit and support FOSAF.

Please join at www.fosaf.org.za Ask your club to enter the scheme whereby your annual subscription Is reduced from R300 to R150”


THE LIFER

THE GLASS GUY THE RETURN OF FIBREGLASS RODS TO THE FOREFRONT OF FLY FISHING? THAT CAN BE CREDITED, AT LEAST IN PART, TO CAMERON MORTENSON, A POLICEMAN FROM SOUTH CAROLINA WHO IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND PIONEERING BLOG, THE FIBERGLASS MANIFESTO (T.F.M.). The first fish I remember catching was bluegill. We did a lot of camping when growing up and, when I was maybe ten years old, we stayed at a campground with a small lake on it. My dad took us fishing and we caught bluegills on worms under a bobber, tossing the few fish that we caught into a bucket filled with water. I can remember putting my arm all the way up to my armpit chasing those bluegill around the bucket. We played with them until it was time to leave and then poured them back into the lake. It left a mark and forty years later I still get excited about bluegill. My first fly rod was a cheapee gaudy yellow 7’ five weight Eagle Claw Featherlight, so it might have hard wired me on fiberglass fly rods. I put it down for a number of years but for the past fourteen or so years it (glass) has been all I fish. From 2-weight to two-handers to quite a bit heavier line weight glass, it’s all I fish with. In my mid-teens I realised what it was like to get paid for working and often times had two or even three jobs through college. During high school I did everything from agriculture crop counting to being a summer camp counselor and ceramic teacher at a Christian summer camp. In college I worked at the pool, checking people in and out at the front desk on early mornings. I did landscaping, worked at a hospital as a tech and for the college’s safety department for a few years. After college I focused more of my work on law enforcement as a Reserve Police Officer, Park Ranger and for almost 19 years as a police officer with various jobs including assignments in the Patrol Division, K-9 Handler, Traffic Division, Narcotics Taskforce Agent, Criminal Investigations Division and for the past five or so years in the Special Operations Division working with our Community Action Team, School Resource Officers, Traffic Division, Training as well as Public Information and managing social media for the department. I guess I’ve never thought of it as a job but, for the last almost twelve years, I’ve been writing The Fiberglass Manifesto and keeping up with everything in the world of fiberglass fly rods.

On a typical day we’re up early (around 4:30 a.m. or so) as my wife works from home. This gives me time over a couple of cups of coffee to answer emails, work on the day’s T.F.M. content and make sure that there isn’t some sort of dumpster fire on the police department’s Facebook page. By 6:00 a.m. the children are up and we’re getting ready for school and work. There aren’t a lot of typical work days for me with the police department. It’s what drew me to the job years ago and I still like the unpredictability of what can happen when I’m on duty. Evenings are spent with our children, sports practice, dinner, homework and wrapping up loose ends. I grew up in Michigan, living in Grand Ledge, Lansing, Berrien Springs and a few summers up north in Grayling. My wife and I were married twenty years ago and immediately moved to Greeley, Colorado where we lived for a year and a half before moving to South Carolina where she is from. We have a small piece of land that is part of several hundred acres where we built a house on family land. We’re surrounded by my wife’s relatives with her parents’ house just through the woods. There’s a 50 or so acre pond, which makes for lots of room for the children to play. We have lived here for almost nineteen years and the mountains around Asheville and the low country coast around Charleston are both about two hours away. In terms of home waters, the family pond is where we spend a lot of our time. We have a few kayaks and the children have a good time exploring, especially the upper reaches where there is a beaver dam. The pond holds all sorts of warm water species including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish and even some large grass carp to keep the weeds down. Other than that I still consider Michigan home in many ways and I usually get up there a couple times each year, in the winter to fish for steelhead with a guide friend and in the summer for upwards of two weeks. This trip involves flats fishing for smallmouth and carp along with some evenings and nights casting mayflies and mice on a few streams. The best advice I have ever been given was, “You don’t know shit until you’ve been here at least a year.” Wise words from

“YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT UNTIL YOU’VE BEEN HERE AT LEAST A YEAR.” W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

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a typically quiet supervisor when I started in law enforcement while we were both taking in the conversations at shift change. It put into perspective the importance of listening and learning which rings true in a lot of other areas of my life too. This is a dad moment, but what I am most proud of is my children. We have a daughter who is 14 and son who is 10, and they are growing up to be great in so many ways. It’s mostly my wife’s doing but I guess I take a little bit of credit. Hadley and Finn are both outdoor kids even though I’ve never been pushy about it. It’s neat to see them gain more independence with their fishing, paddling and bush craft skills. Growing up I was really introverted and not comfortable at all in social settings. A career in police work has taught me ways to talk to just about everyone and that’s rolled over into off duty life too. The most satisfying fish that I haven’t caught ... yet … has to be a permit. My first experience came from an invite to Belize with a friend and we fished with famed guide Lincoln Westby and Ransom Nunez. Three days, quite a few shots at tailing permit and one that ate the fly that then pulled from its mouth. I was elated, learned so much from the “Permit Master” that changed how I flats fish and how I continue to be really focused on trying to make it happen. Permit will be permit and I approach it with the mindset of doing my part correctly and if and when it happens, it happens. I look forward to that true sense of satisfaction when it does. One place, never again would be the Louisiana marsh in the middle of winter. In the past two years I’ve been there and the weather has been horrible. It was impossible to find bull redfish and black drum in the shallow water. That said, I’m headed back there in a couple of weeks and hoping for better fortune. If nothing else, the people, food, drink and scenery make the trip worthwhile. One place I have to return to is Italy. My wife and I spent almost two weeks there the year before last and it surpassed our expectations. We did a pretty stellar job of seeing, eating, drinking and enjoying our way around the country by car and train but there is still so much more to see and to do there. I’d like to take along a fly rod or two on the next trip. When is it okay to lie? I’m all about protecting places that don’t need to see a ton of additional pressure so, if you have to fib a bit, then I’m fine with it. It’s typically better not to say anything though, and keep some things to yourself. What I get out of fly fishing has definitely changed over the years. I’ve been fly fishing for about 25 years now and the last ten years my focus has really dialed in on flats or shallow water species where sight fishing is the game. Everything from carp, bonefish, redfish, smallmouth bass and I am still in pursuit of my first permit. I really enjoy


“One for me, one for me and another for me.” Photo Robert Yaskovic

the challenge and don’t mind how hard it is. Every failure is a chance to learn and every success just feels that much deeper in gratification. The other side of this is that years ago it was all about the fish and now it’s way more about the experience. I get a kick out of taking the backseat and watching something unfold on the flats. A skill I’d still like to master is photography. Digital cameras, and that iPhone in your pocket make passable photography easy but I really would like to take the time to learn the ins and outs of the more technical aspects of it. There is a lot of room for my photography to get better. The biggest adventure I’ve been on has been writing The Fiberglass Manifesto. It’s been an almost twelve year long adventure that has put me in contact with anglers all over the world. It’s also given me opportunities to fish with guides from all over the United States, Mexico, Belize and beyond. There are still quite a few open invites that I hope to take advantage of sooner rather than later. There are so many places that I want to travel to and to experience along with people that I’d like to spend time with on the water. There are a lot of really knowledgeable and talented fiberglass fly rod builders spread out all over the world and I often think that it would be cool to create some sort of roadmap visiting each one of them within their element.

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It’s weird that something like fly fishing is suddenly so connected to technology, namely social media. That could all dial itself back a few notches and I’d be fine with it. The other part of that is that if you do have a voice online, be careful what you say and do in the outdoors. Looking back on my life so far, I’m 45 with a “dad bod” so, if there’s anything I would have done differently, I would have taken health and fitness more seriously when I was younger. It’s turning around but damn, old habits die hard. Something I have changed my mind about is that I think it’s easy when you’re young, and maybe even more so working as a police officer, to think that life really just comes down to right and wrong. Fast forward twenty-some-odd years later and you realise life is really a whole bunch more grey than black or white. The most memorable fish I caught recently was a striped bass. A while back I took a half day birthday float down the Saluda River with a guide friend where there is a historical run of striped bass that spend the warmer months in moving water to spawn. It was late in the season but they were still around and packed up in groups so if you found one, you typically would find several others. Fishing my Epic Bandit 10-weight we moved a bunch of them on a flashy Gamechanger, making long casts with an intermediate line to the shore and near structure. We caught just enough to keep it interesting. That day eased me nicely into turning 45.

W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M


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POP QUIZ TO P O F THE C L ASS O R HE L D BACK A Y E A R ? M E N SA M E N S E O R STANDAR D GR A D E G R A PP L E R S ? TA K E O U R Q U IZ TO S E E IF YO U WER E PAYI N G AT T E N T IO N IN T H IS ISS U E .

2. Fernet Branca and coke is called a 90210 because… (answer page 14) A. That’s what Tori Spelling always drank. B. It puts your head in a different dialing code to your body. C. Those are the proportions of the booze, the ice and the mixer. D. It was shorter than saying the name. 3. To make the handles for his knives and axes, Scott Lowry… (answer page 16) A. Cuts down ancient rain forests. B. Melts down rare metals from iPhones. C. Bribes politicians for their income tax statements. D. Bribes skateboarders for their old decks. E. Refurbishes Quinton de Kock’s cricket bats.

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4. Finish this sentence by Thomas McGuane from The Longest Silence. “In very civilized times it is reassuring to know that wild fish will run so close that a man on foot and within earshot of – BLANK – can touch their wildness with a fishing rod.” (answer page 18). A. His mobile phone B. His wife C. A highway D. His kids. E. Lawnmowers 5. Caralho Voador is… (answer page 30) A. ‘Flying Dick’ in Portuguese. B. ‘Two whiskies and make it snappy,’ in High Valyrian. C. ‘Prince Charles’ in Flemish. D. Cheltenham F.C’s new striker from Cape Verde. 6. For stripers (one “P”, not two), our Lifer Cameron Mortenson recommends… (answer page 96) A. A Meat Whistle. B. Galloup’s Bangtail C. Used one dollar notes. D. A Flashy Gamechanger E. A Surf Candy

W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M

Answers: 1. C, 2. C, 3. D, 4. E, 5. A, 6. D

1. Costa Rica’s razor-toothed Machaca will take… (answer page 12) A. You roughly in the barn. B. Your freedom à la Braveheart. C. Flies designed to look like fruit and flowers. D. A well placed clouser. E. He Black and will join the Night’s Watch on The Wall to protect the realm.


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Just another day in paradise. Mikey Wier navigates a NorCal nirvana in search of a few rainbows. JEREMIAH WATT © 2020 Patagonia, Inc.

Profile for The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine

The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine #Issue 20  

The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine #Issue 20