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ISSUE 09

MAY | JUNE 2018

FREE

THEMISSIONFLYMAG.COM

ORANGE FREE STATE, OMAN, JURASSIC, GUY FERGUSON, AFRICAN PIKE, BEETLEMANIA, BEERS, BEATS & MORE


experience counts for everything We fondly refer to these guys as the A-team! T&T advisor Keith Rose-Innes and ambassadors Devan van der Merwe and Alec Gerbec collectively make up one of the most experienced and knowledgable teams in fly fishing anywhere. Hardcore professionals like these guys are testing our products to the limit every day and push us in our pursuit to build truly great rods. Their knowledge, expertise, and understanding are passed to our craftsmen, who strive for perfection and uncompromising performance in every rod we make. To us, Keith, Devan, Alec and their team of guides in the Seychelles are our unsung heroes. We salute you.


we’ve got you covered… introducing the new t&t sextant and exocett ss. remarkably light. extraordinarily strong.

est

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T H E R O D YO U W I L L E V E N T UA L LY OW N

www.thomasandthomas.com HANDMADE IN AMERICA


Tourette Fishing’s Johann du Preez drops down into late afternoon shadows on the Orange River while in search of trophy largemouth yellowfish 06

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W W W. T H E M I S S I O N F LY M A G . C O M ISSUE 9 MAY | JUNE 2018

CONTENTS Cover image: Johann du Preez takes the gold medal in the Northern Cape’s advanced river clean and jerk category. Photo Ryan Janssens

16 UNDERCURRENT: RITE OF BASSAS With Brendan Body 18 DEEP PURPLE With Gordon van der Spuy 20 HIGH 5s With Russel de la Harpe 24 ORANGE. FREE. STATE. Ryan Janssens joins a Tourette Fishing exploratory 36 A RIDE ON THE RAS-MAD ROLLERCOASTER Jeff Tyser chases Indo-Pacific permit in Oman 46 JURASSICK! Yo, Tim Leppan’s palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. Prehistoric Jurassic Lake rainbow on the other end, rod’s whippy like mom’s spaghetti 64 OF DOUCHEBAGS & DESTINATIONS Not all those who wander are lost. Some are just name-dropping dickheads as guide Matt Gorlei experienced

REGULAR FEATURES 12 Wishlist Fish 14 Beers & Beats 58 Salad Bar 64 Payday 66 Shortcasts

Wands 68 Fly Flicks 70 Munchies 72 Fluff 76 The Lifer - Guy Ferguson 78

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

Ryan Janssens

ALWAYS A LITTLE FURTHER

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’ve been haunted of late by the tragic story of polar explorer Henry Worsley* who died in 2016 aged 55 while attempting the first solo and unaided crossing of the Antarctic. From rowing across the Atlantic to climbing Kilimanjaro on one leg, what drives people to risk everything and take on insane or life-threatening challenges is beyond me. Maybe they feel similarly confused about waving 12-weights at night off the beach for tarpon. Anyway, Worsley, a soldier, lived by the S.A.S.’s unofficial motto, “Always a little further”—a line from James Elroy Flecker’s 1913 poem “The Golden Journey to Samarkand.” This line was painted on the front of the sled that Worsley dragged across the icy continent, because with no food caches or support he had to haul all his supplies and gear himself. No sled dogs. No sail. As he trudged, dragging the sled across deadly crevasses into never-ending icy winds, Worsley repeated the words, “Always a little further,” like a mantra. What does this have to do with fly fishing? Not much, but the line, “Always a little further,” resonates with me as a mind-set that occurs frequently in fly fishing. We’re not SAS soldiers, nor are we trying to cross the Antarctic in the “white blackness,” as Worsley put it. We’re exploring more familiar bits of terra firma, for fishy kicks. For the most part, when it comes to fly fishing, “Always a little further,” just means checking out one more bend in the river, climbing one more hill to see what the estuary on the other side looks like, covering one more drop-off in case that GT of a lifetime makes an appearance or extending a cast by just a few more metres to get it into the zone of a Gabon estuary teeming with giant tarpon who always seem to be just out of fly range. We apply and adhere

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to “Always a little further,” so that we can leave a place with no regrets, having used use our time and done our utmost to try and catch a specific fish on a fly. It’s not a solo crossing of Antarctica, but fly fishing is not entirely without its dangers, because even if it’s on something as pedestrian as our tried, tested and well-trodden local waters, the allure of “always a little further” can sometimes get us in shit. Just passing the hat around people in my immediate circle I know of someone who fell off a cliff on the Elandspad river (yours truly), got stuck and almost swallowed in man-eating mud on Cape York (our editor at large, Conrad), got airlifted off the Witels after a flash flood (Leonard Flemming) and read the body language of some panga-packing thugs near Kosi Bay and took evasive action in the waves (Peter Coetzee). Then there are others who (years ago) got stuck on Cosmoledo on the wrong tide, explored Socotra when the threat of Somali pirates was still a major concern, wandered away from their armed minder in Kamchatka only to encounter a massive bear, had their tinny sent airborne by hippos in Tanzania… the list goes on. With some variation of “always a little further . . . a little further,” looping through our heads, we are unlikely to ever stop seeking that fix of ‘round the corner’ nirvana. Still, if it’s worth holding on to one gut-wrenching take out from Worsley’s brave yet tragic story (other than that he was made of sterner stuff than most of us), it’s that on one of his skis his wife had written, “Come back to me safely my darling.” * For an incredible long-form read on Worsley’s life and death, check out the New Yorker piece, The White Darkness: A Solitary Journey across Antarctica.

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Dog day afternoon - this issue’s Lifer Guy Ferguson’s pooch, Ace, scopes out the grunter flats of Infanta.

EDITOR Tudor Caradoc-Davies ART DIRECTOR Brendan Body CONTACT THE MISSION The Mission Fly Fishing Mag (PTY) Ltd 20 Malleson Rd, Mowbray, 7700, Cape Town, South Africa Info@themissionflymag.com www.themissionflymag.com

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

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 CERSEI LANNISTER-LEVEL SHAMING.

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CONTRIBUTORS #07 Leonard Flemming, Tim Leppan, Ryan Janssens, Brendan Body, Daniel Williams, Matt Gorlei, Keith Rose-Innes, Jeff Tyser, Alan Hobson, Llewellyn Claven, Jako Lucas, Gordon van der Spuy PHOTOGRAPHY #07 Ryan Janssens , Knut Otto (Visioninja), Leonard Flemming, Richard Morton, Martin Kotze (Die Swart Kat Productions), Matt Gorlei, Clint van der Schyf, James Topham, Badfish, Jeff Tyser, Dillion Harland, Darryl Lampert, Carl Freese, Johann du Preez

@THEMISSIONFLYMAG


Distributed by Xplorer Fly fishing - www.xplorerflyfishing.co.za Email: jandi@netactive.co.za or call 031-564-7368 for your closest dealer.


WISH LIST FISH

THE AFRICAN PIKE TIGERFISH ARE NOT THE ONLY TOOTHY DENIZENS OF THE DELTAS AND SWAMPS. MEET THE AFRICAN PIKE. Words and Photo Leonard Flemming

Behold! Africa’s light-tackle answer to the mighty muskie.

What: Scrat from Ice Age evolved to survive in African freshwater habitats, this toothy critter was more recently renamed African pike (Hepsetus odoe) by Western explorers; in Ghana it is known as the ‘Predator with Dog-like Teeth’ (coincidentally our art director’s nickname on New Year’s Eve). Where: This African characin may be caught accidentally (it is not considered a primary angling species) all over south-central Africa where

it lives in swamps and oxbows of floodplain rivers (commonly caught on fly in the Zambezi and Kavango River catchments). How: It is a top predator and adult fish (that may chow other fish up to 40% of their own body size) will eat any fly resembling a baitfish. Juveniles will also eat insect patterns, such as nymphs, leeches etc. Growing to a max of 47cm it’s an ideal species for the light tackle fly fundi – think 6-weight

rod or lighter with a floating line. No wire trace is necessary and anything from 3X to 15 lb tippet may be used, depending on the size of fish, snags and presence of other, bigger fish (like nembwe) in the area. Why: Well, it is a unique, prehistoriclooking fish and it is only found in Africa - a good reason to convince your partner that a wildlife and fishing safari in Botswana should be top of the bucket list.

“IT IS A TOP PREDATOR AND ADULT FISH (THAT MAY CHOW OTHER FISH UP TO 40% OF THEIR OWN BODY SIZE) WILL EAT ANY FLY RESEMBLING A BAITFISH.” 12

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Introducing the new EVO and XTR machined reels


FODDER

BEERS & BEATS THE BEER – FRASER”S FOLLY If you go kob or grunter hunting in the Overberg and find yourself criss-crossing inland, keep an eye out for Black Oystercatcher Wine Farm near Elim, because that’s where you’ll find The Fraser’s Folly Brewhouse, makers of the remarkable Moer Koffie Condensed Milk Stout. Moer Koffie (literal translationfrom Afrikaans – slam coffee) is a South African staple, the silty power cuppa that sets you on course for a power day. Founder and brewmaster Fraser Crichton of Fraser’s Folly says “Our Moer Koffie Stout started as one of those ‘what if’ conversations after way too many beers around a bonfire with the guys from Beer Country (www.beercountry.co.za). We knew we wanted to brew a kick-ass stout but we also wanted it to have a local twist. After a few more beers, we settled on taking the experience of a campfire cup of moerkoffie spiked with condensed milk and putting it into a beer. It seemed like a good idea at the time and how hard could it be? It turns out it was pretty hard.”

THE BEATS (ON REPEAT AT MISSION HQ)

Like us, Crichton’s collaborator Karl Tessendorf of Beer Country, is happy with the result. “Our Moer Koffie Stout has a subtle vanilla-caramel nose and it’s packed with coffee, chocolate and toffee flavours. It’s big, bold, rich and smooth and best enjoyed in a camp chair next to a roaring fire.” The trick according to Crichton was in the ingredients. “We had to find the right coffee, condensed milk extract, balance of flavours, and deal with a whole bunch of other challenges but we think we’ve nailed it.” We concur your honour. Made with Transkei Gold beans from Beaver Creek Estate, condensed milk extract and…beer, at just 5,5% ABV the Moer Koffie stout packs a balanced punch and stands up to substantial food (think a giant rack of beef ribs or a potjie). Find your nearest stockist at frasersfolly.co.za

THE MISSION PLAYLIST VOL. 7 BY LEROY BOTHA

The Flash & Blood Road Mix

Marlon Williams Dark Child

Danzig Mother

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Midland Drinkin’ Problem

Ramones Pet Cematary

Visit www.themissionflymag.com to listen

Black Pumas Black Moon Rising

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Ty Segall Girlfriend


TR F F A OR 3T IL S ER FI A S LM .CO A L . N IN ZA D E TI -U C P, K ET S.

PRESENTED BY

F3T South Africa is fishing’s most epic cinema event. Originally from USA, it is the largest tour of its kind with each show being a high-energy celebration of fishing greatness. The next #F3TSA tour lands in May 2018 and you are invited to join. TUESDAY, 29 MAY 2018

WEDNESDAY, 30 MAY 2018

THURSDAY, 31 MAY 2018

Cape Town – Labia Theatre Gardens

Durban – Rockwood Theatre at Sibaya Umhlanga Rocks

Johannesburg – Katy’s Palace Bar Kramerville, Sandton

GENERAL TICKETS – R350 includes ticket and welcome drink. VIP PACKAGE – R4500 includes 6 tickets, VIP check-in with preferred seating, on-site VIP hostess and bucket of 24 beers to enjoy during the show. TICKETS ARE LIMITED. STAND A CHANCE TO WIN INCREDIBLE PRIZES AND GEAR AT EACH SHOW.


UNDERCURRENT

RITE OF BASSAS F O R H I S F I R S T E V E R S A LT W AT E R T R I P, B R E N D A N B O D Y W E N T T O T H E FA B L E D ( N O W O F F - L I M I T S ) I N D I A N O C E A N AT O L L O F B A S S A S D A I N D I A . U N L I K E S I N AT R A , H E H A S A F E W R E G R E T S .

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f you think back on your fly fishing life, chances are it will be punctuated as much with regret as it will with success. I mean that not in a morbid, ‘poor-me’ kind of way – the balance of hits and the misses are part and parcel of the beauty of what we do. Some gall you, like that incredible trip you turned down because you thought it made more sense to patch things up with your ex. Others, like that Midlands stream where you lifted your dry off the water at the tail of a pool just as the biggest brown you’ve ever seen rose to engulf the fly, make you want to recreate the past. There’s a mantra-like chorus towards the end of Pearl Jam’s Red Mosquito (off 1996’s No Code album) where Eddie Vedder chants, “If I had known then, what I know now.” Any time I hear this song (or any time I think of serious saltwater fly fishing for that matter), I think of a trip I took to Bassas da India with some mates in 2003 when I was 27. An uninhabited atoll halfway between Mozambique and Madagascar, Bassas is paradise for fly fisherman in much the same way that any of the big name Seychelles or other Indian Ocean saltwater fly fishing destinations are because it’s remote with amazing fishing, but perhaps Bassas is even more special because nowadays it’s basically impossible to get there. The area is of some strategic importance to those who like to divide the world on maps, so if you’re not sleeping with someone high up in their government, it’s highly likely the French Navy will confiscate your boat if you just pitch up there. Throw in the currents and the sharkiness of the place and you have just the right

mix of danger and inaccessibility to get any salty fly fisherman excited. It’s where “Here Be Dragons” would be scrawled on an old map. Unfortunately, my experience of Bassas, while amazing on a personal level, is not one of great fishing success. It’s a sad tale of obsession (the wrong sort) and ignorance (wellmeant). Let’s start with the latter. We were young, we were dumb(er than we are now) and we were full of the kind of bravado only a misfit pack of skateboarding Joburgers could be when they hit the sea. When it’s the Kwazulu-Natal coast over the festive season, the migration of Joburgers to the ocean is called the Vaalie Charge (think ‘suns out guns out’, jetskis and lekker jol treffers being blared out the bakkies). But out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, our bravado was muted as we approached Bassas. There was no charging, because we were out of our depth every way you looked at it. Over the course of a week, we had sailed from Durban up towards Mozambique and made it to Bassas within ten days. Suddenly, I was in this incredible, untouched, scary place of big fish and hardcore currents, completely out-gunned, not knowing what the fuck I was doing (or attempting to do). Suburban skollies floating around one of the most incredible natural atolls on the planet, like a Zoo biscuit in a carp pond, everything about our presence there was alien and it felt like only a matter of time until something ate us. But, like your first day in prison, we had to make friends. With parrotfish. They were the first thing I saw when I walked on that atoll, schools of blue parrotfish everywhere. The water was half a foot to a foot in depth and I Photo Clint van der Schyf

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discovered if I chilled and sat on a rock, a pack of parrotfish would come and check me out like friendly car guards, seemingly saying, “hang on, hang on, hang on, what’s going on here? R10 for an hour ek se.” You’re so used to animals being scared of you as a human. This was like taking a walk in an aquarium in a time before man. You look at these beautiful, inquisitive fish and you start to see them as your friends. That one over there with the cleft palate? That’s Mike. Steve over there with the goofy teeth and the lazy eye? He’s always pigging out on the fan coral. It was like, these could be my friends, lurking around my apartment on a Sunday afternoon, raiding the fridge and messing with the Xbox. Tripping out as if we’d just walked into some outtakes from Avatar, Clint and I were both just looking at each other, our silence saying, “dude, are you seeing what I’m seeing?” There’s just this abundance of solid 12-15lb parrotfish milling around like pigeons on the Grand Parade. They’re being friendly to me. Why would I want to throw a fly at them? You wouldn’t want to throw a fly in your fish tank and hurt your buddy. The truth is, my ignorance around the fishability of the parrots, was down to me being a rank noob around fishing for ocean fish of any sort. Most people get into saltwater fly fishing with a gentle introduction to estuaries and lagoons, gradually improving your skillset and gaining experience till you are ready for something more challenging and rewarding. Going to Bassas da India for my first saltwater trip, was to jump in the deep end, like a teenager losing his virginity at an orgy. It would show.


Armed with a 10-weight and a 12-weight all I had by way of preparation were Youtube clips, the canned heavy metal backing tracks still ringing in my ears. Up until that point my sole exposure to saltwater fly fishing had been online, the pioneering, pelvic-thrusting exploits of those who had dared to catch seriously big fish on fly. Coming from a Joburg fly fishing background of delicate trout and plucky yellows, I had made it my mission to come on this trip and catch something solid and fearsome like a GT. In fact, I was so dead-set on it, that I ignored everything else. Parrots and triggerfish? Never mind that if I had tried, they would probably have been way beyond my skillset - I simply wasn’t even looking at fish like that. They were just too foreign and I was just too new to saltwater fly fishing to even consider them as targets. Pretty and busy, to me, they were almost background scenery, like parrots in trees. Engaging wallpaper. Stoner mates to hang out with on the coral couch.

yellow and black rock cod just comes out and hits me in the leg. Joburg city slicker that I am, I shat myself as if I had hopped the wrong wall and landed up in a pitbull’s backyard. I didn’t know what it was. I thought it might be one of those stingy-puffer things. “Stingy-puffer things” was then and still is a valid description of what might be swimming around Bassas.

distracted it by prodding it with his rod and I made a leap for freedom. Back on the boat flipping through the fish book, I read that these cod are super territorial so it made sense that he’d been coming at me, tuning that I was in his territory. Years later watching Providence, I saw Camille Egdorf catch one of these bastards and the penny dropped that that could have been me. The bully boy rock cod, the stoner parrots - stumbling my way through a fly fisherman’s paradise I wasn’t looking at these as fish I could catch. On a beautiful reef teeming with fish, I’d categorized them as ‘scenery fish,’ while GT were ‘target fish’. That’s the problem when you’re young and dumb and obsessive – you can miss out on everything else that’s available to you. Like chasing models when the girl of your dreams is right under your nose. You can’t see the wood for the trees.

There were other fish that were not so friendly, fish that freaked me out. All these fish belonged there. Walking around in a pair of cut off denim’s jeans and sneakers, I clearly didn’t. There was some dangerous shit in there. Like the rock cod that attacked me.

With Clint and I marooned on a bommie by this dickhead bouncer of a fish, I was on the radio to Ryan, “HEEEEEEEEELP, this thing won’t let us off a rock.”

Wading the atoll, we would navigate our way from coral bommie to coral bommie, jumping off one into a pool and then on to another section. On jumping off this bommie, this massive

Surrounded by water on all sides like a moat, we were stuck there. I’d walk left and the rockcod would counter me. I’d walk right and it would be there again. Eventually, Clint

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As a result, while my mate Ryan chummed up a tuna, I spent most of my time sitting on the back of the boat trying to catch the biggest GT possible off the dropoff (with mild success). Only now do I realize what an empty victory that would be. Experience changes you. 16 years later and with “If I had known then, what I know now” ringing in my ears, if given the chance to go back to Bassas, that rock cod would be in trouble, clousers and brush flies whistling past his nose. Mike and Steve? Sorry boys. You’d be in big shit too.

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R A D LO F F PA R K

DEEP PURPLE G O R D O N VA N D E R S P U Y G E T S T O G R I P S W I T H D O G S A N D P E N S I O N E R S AT H I S L O C A L “Beast!” came the Whatsapp from Myburgh. “Must’ve been close to four pounds Gordie?” Leonard chimed in. “ What river was this?” “Louwrens, at Radloff park”, I replied to the group. “They were dik active today, took twenty of these bad boys.” “Ok, I’ll be careful wading there next time…” came Leonard’s response. “Screw you guys,” I thought. Sure, Cape kurper aren’t exactly piscatorial heavy weights but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Faced with a Staffie-sized Cape Kurper, I’d kak myself. That thing would take your leg off. They’re aggro and that’s what I like about them. God knew what he was doing when he kept them small. I’ve been fishing Radloff for a couple of years now. It’s the kind of place that’s great when you’re having fishing withdrawal, can’t find time to go somewhere remote and just need to pop off a few casts. That said, having a Labrador jump on the 18-inch fish I’d been silently stalking at Radloff for at least an hour was a definite low point in my fishing career. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found this miraculous beast of a fish. He was just sitting there in plain sight for everyone to see, very uncommon behaviour in this park. Normally, Radloff fish hide and hide well. I cast everything thing at that bastard and eventually got him to pounce on a small streamer, but I didn’t connect. Next cast I put a small nymph over him. He moved to the fly but rejected it at the last second. I was going to catch this fish. I could feel it. Sixth sense, telepathy and all that. Next thing I hear some old girl with a purple rinse screaming at her dog,

“No Bruno!” SPLASH! Right on top of my trout. “FUUUCK!” I bellowed. It was the scream of a man who almost caught a whopper on a Monday during work hours, but it was also internal so all she would have seen was a slight biting of the lip. “Sorry”, said Purple, “He’s just a puppy, loves the water. Have you caught anything today? Fighting the rage, my inner Buddha took over. Dragging the nymph out of Bruno’s range, I said, “It’s been a slow day. Sometimes it’s hard with the dogs.” Purple laughed nervously. She didn’t know the details about what had almost been an 18-inch moment of personal glory, but she knew she and Bruno had just ruined something. I guess that’s the nature of the game when fishing in a doggy park. Dogs are part of the challenge. They are entitled to be there. I’m the guest waving my fly rod around. Dogs aside, the fishing in Radloff is hard. Trout are not plentiful. They are there but it’s not like fishing the Elandspad where they’re on exhibition. You rarely see the fish here. They are mostly secretive preferring to hide in undercuts and fly snatching gabions. Streamers work well, they seem to draw these fish out of their holes. I like fishing the park when the dog traffic is minimal, workdays are generally good expect for the days when Purple walks Bruno, which happens to be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She’s getting old so as the years have rolled on her strolling has diminished. Mind you, I haven’t seen her for a while. Photo Darryl Lampert

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Early mornings are great too. Occasionally fish come up but it’s not the rule. It’s almost as if there are certain times in the season when those trout decide to start surface feeding, almost exclusively in the mornings and in the evenings. My pal Robin cycles in the park regularly so alerts me to when it’s happening. I once got stuck in a hatch of small mays, in the same pool that I’d seen that 18 incher in. Small fish started rising everywhere. It was only when I started drowning the fly and fishing it with a figure of eight retrieve that things really got good. I took a dozen that evening. Very uncommon for Radloff. Most of the time the fishing there actually sucks, but every now and then you hit it lucky. That’s largely because trout can be fuckers, one day they’ll be there and the next week they’ll be gone. Nothing. I often wonder where they go to when they do that. Maybe Bruno does too. Thank God for Cape kurper. Those little okes are piscatorial swingers. They’re always up for it. My favourite spot has a small bush hanging over the water. A gang of Cape kurper hang out under this tree and harass anything and everything that floats under it. I once latched on to an 8-inch fish here. At the time I knew nothing about Cape kurpers so didn’t realise it, but that fish was massive, probably a national record on fly. I guess home waters are like good friends, after a while you start understanding their various moods and idiosyncrasies and accept them as such. Radloff might be a sub-par shitty fishing hole but it’s my sub-par shitty fishing hole. It’s familiar, it’s friendly and it’s home. I can’t wait to see Bruno again and I hope Purple is ok.


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GUIDES

HIGH 5S F R O M Z A M B E Z I T I G E R F I S H T O K I W I T R O U T, N O R W EG I A N S A L M O N A N D S T B R A N D O N ’ S B L U E F I N T R E VA L LY, ROOKIE GUIDE RUSSEL DE LA HARPE GETS AROUND. Photos Russel De La Harpe & James Topham

5 best things about where you guide? 1) Meeting and spending time with people from so many different walks of life, whether they be fellow guides or clients, is always interesting and there is always something one can learn from anyone. 2) Sitting around the fire at the home pool on the Osen River, Norway. Braaing and talking about salmon. 3) Days or weeks off on St Brandon’s Atoll, Mauritius are always epic. 4) Crayfish, permit and the rest of the atoll to ourselves is pretty unbeatable. Road side pies in New Zealand are unbelievable. 5) The bottled chocolate milk in Norway is off the charts. 5 fishing items you don’t leave home without before making a mission? 1) Nippers and pliers. Trying to chew through heavy leader or, even more so, wire trace really sucks. 2) Garmin InReach Explorer. A slick handheld GPS that keeps track of where I go and also gives me the ability to communicate with those back home if things go pear shaped. 3) Camera. I have pulled, drowned and dropped my Canon 7D through hell more than once. It is still going strong and, of course, “Pictures, or it didn’t happen”. 4) Duct Tape. Rods, reels, motors, body parts. Whatever it is, duct tape can fix it. 5) Spare pair of shades. If you’ve ever had to walk tropical, white sand flats without a pair of sunglasses you’ll understand! Costa Del Mar make the best in the business.

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5 bands to listen to while on a road trip? 1) Blitzen Trapper 2) Quiet Hollers 3) Stick Figure 4) Linkin Park 5) Creedence Clearwater Revival 5 things you are loving right now. 1) DJI Mavic Air Drone. This incredible sexy piece of kit fits in the palm of your hand and can give you a whole new perspective on anything! 2) JBl Flip 2, waterproof and portable speaker. Listening to some good tunes while fishing to tailing bonefish is pretty sweet. 3) Butonga Mwabuka Conservation Trust. “Save the Tigerfish” is a conservation group in the middle Zambezi area of Deka Drum. Protecting tigerfish and other species from over fishing and illegal netting is their goal and they are already making a huge impact. 4) Carbon TV, the Netflix of outdoor TV shows. Yes it really exists. 5) Spending time on the water with my girlfriend since she has become a demon with a fly rod! 5 favourite fly fishing destinations across Southern Africa? 1) The middle Zambezi River, Zambia – clear fast flowing water with tigerfish in the shallows. Wade fishing the Zambezi? Yes please! 2) Okavango Delta, Botswana – The famous catfish run on the Delta is some of the best fishing I’ve ever experienced and should be high on everyone’s list. 3) Smalblaar River, Western Cape, South Africa While attending Stellenbosch University I spent more

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time here than in lecture halls. I’m still unsure how I managed to get a degree. 4) Cederberg, Western Cape South Africa – The Clanwilliam yellowfish, endemic to this area, is a difficult but rewarding fish to target and the smallmouth bass fishing can be off the charts. 5) An undisclosed river in Zimbabwe sight fishing to tigerfish! 5 indispensable flies for saltwater? 1) Chartreuse and white Clouser minnow. 2) Tan Flexo Crab (rubber legs). 3) Merkin Crab, big and heavy. 4) NYAP – Not your average popper. 5) Spawning Shrimp with lots of fluffy stuff. 5 indispensable flies for freshwater? 1) Collie Hune (Salmon Tube Fly unique to Osen River, Norway). 2) PMX (a big, parachuted, fluffy, rubber-legged dry fly that New Zealand trout have a taste for. 3) Pheasant Tail Nymph (with a black bead, always!) 4) Hot Tigerfish Whistler (heavy and full of all the tigerfishy colours - red, yellow and black). 5) Craig Richardson’s Sterkies Hopper. 5 of the most underrated species in your book? 1) Tigerfish. Locally they are very highly rated but internationally they are almost nothing. 2) Largemouth bream. 3) Yellow-lipped emperor. 4) Bluefin trevally. Pound for pound they will outfight a GT any day. 5) Large stingrays. When accidently foul-hooked you will see a lot of backing and they can be terrifying to unhook.


“Salmon Samonsson I presume? Good to finally meet you.” 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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5 things you would take up if you weren’t always fly fishing? 1) I have always been into bow hunting and try to squeeze in as much as I can when I get the chance. 2) Fish Farming/Aquaculture. 3) I have always been interested in flying and can’t wait to learn one day. 4) Sport. I enjoy playing sports like cricket and golf and would definitely play a lot more if I wasn’t always fishing! 5) I am quietly a huge fan of popping and jigging. It is a lot of fun and if it wasn’t for the long rod I would

definitely be seen with heathen tackle a lot more. 5 favourite fly fishing destinations globally? 1) Central North Island, New Zealand. 2) St Brandon’s Atoll, Mauritius. 3) Osen River, Norway. 4) Andaman Islands, India. 5) Any African river with tigerfish. 5 essential ingredients for an incredible mission? 1) A good quality cooler box, ice and beer. At least if the fishing sucks or

you forget everything else you can still enjoy a cold beer at the water. 2) A good friend or fishing buddy is probably the most essential. Sharing those epic moments is always sweeter than doing it alone. 3) The unknown. Going somewhere new or out of the way is always exciting, and it doesn’t have to be a far off and expensive destination. A new stretch of local river or coastline can be just as, or even more, exciting! You never know what you might find. 4) Research. Having the right gear applicable to what you are doing,

“A GOOD QUALITY COOLER BOX, ICE AND BEER. AT LEAST IF THE FISHING SUCKS OR YOU FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE YOU CAN STILL ENJOY A COLD BEER AT THE WATER.” 22

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than not are incredibly grateful. However, there are some that aren’t and this, as a guide attempting to protect a certain fishery, can be difficult. 3) Guiding people into Atlantic salmon before even seeing one with my own eyes was tough at first. 4) Teaching clients to cast double handed while I was still pretty hopeless myself, was also strange. 5) Craig Richardson’s snoring. 5 people you would like to guide or fish with? 1) I would love to show and fish with my Dad at some of the places I have guided. 2) My somewhat moronic group of fishing mates from uni days. Their minds would explode at some of the fishing that’s out there. 3) My girlfriend, Chennay, would be gobsmacked at the wilderness and beauty of St Brandon’s Atoll. 4) Rene Harrop on the Henry’s Fork. 5) David Magnum in Florida for tarpon.

from boots and waders to rods, lines and flies. It’s all very well going to a great spot with loads of fish but if you aren’t prepared you are probably pissing in the wind. 5) Patience. The fishing can’t be really good all the time. Sometimes things go wrong or the fishing isn’t great. But eventually it will all come together. 5 of the most difficult guiding experiences so far? 1) Guiding clients that ask a lot of questions but, unfortunately don’t listen to the answers, can be tough, especially when they become despondent when not catching loads of fish. 2) Most clients are very respectful of the fish they catch and more often

5 shower thoughts that have occurred to you while fly fishing? 1) How can we stop overfishing and illegal fishing on our African fisheries? One day, not that far away, there may be no more tigerfish in southern Africa. 2) Why do permit make me panic so much? 3) What must the fishing here have been like 200 years ago? 4) I hope my camera batteries are charged. 5) How long till lunch? 5 flies that to look at make no sense but that catch fish all the time. 1) Chernobyl Ant. 2) Carp Buggers. 3) Fred’s Flapper Cat. 4) Tarpon Toad. 5) Grunter Turd Burger. 5 destinations on your bucket list? 1) Zhupanova, Sedanka and Savan Rivers in Kamchatka – Rainbow trout. 2) Babine River, British Columbia – Steelhead. 3) Mynera & Ruhudji Rivers, Tanzania – Tigerfish.

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4) Lakselve, Norway – Salmon. 5) Sette Cama, Gabon – Tarpon, jacks, threadfin, snapper. 5 things about fly fishing that you may never understand? 1) Why do Atlantic salmon take flies, especially with such aggression? 2) Why do GTs always rock up when you least expect them? 3) Why do I love blind casting a 12wt so much when I always regret it afterwards? 4) Why don’t more people fly fish? 5) Why do line manufacturers keep making lines heavier and heavier (especially saltwater and double handers)? This is making many fly rodders bad casters. 5 common mistakes that most clients make? 1) Not practicing their casting the right way. Bombing out a full fly line on the lawn at home is all very well but generally speaking, accuracy is more important. 2) Becoming despondent when it’s not going your way. If you miss a few fish or the conditions are tough, just be patient and try your best the next shot you get. Worrying about a fish from yesterday will make you miss a fish today 3) Over complicating and worrying about simple things like leaders, fly selection and gear in general. Taking too much crap with you will just cause you hassles most of the time. 4) Playing fish too softly, especially permit and Atlantic salmon. The sooner you land the fish the better. For you, for your guide and for the fish. 5) Not tying your own knots/leaders. Yes, your guide will always happily do this for you, but if you make sure to do your own you will know exactly how long your leader is and you can fish this length all the time. This makes a huge difference in a sight fishing situation. Your last five casts were to…. Tailing Indo-Pacific permit on St Brandon’s Atoll, Mauritius.

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ORANGE. FREE. STATE. A N Y T H I N G C A N H A P P E N O N A T O U R E T T E F I S H I N G E X P L O R AT O R Y A S P H O T O G R A P H E R R YA N J A N S S E N S D I S C O V E R E D W H E N H E E N C O U N T E R E D A B I G B U N N Y, F I S H E D U N D E R A B A B O O N P O O P PA R T Y A N D C A U G H T P E R S O N A L B E S T Y E L L O W F I S H W H I L E F L O AT I N G D O W N A R E M O T E S T R E T C H O F THE ORANGE RIVER. Photos Ryan Janssens

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It’s bloody hot. It’s only 9 am in the morning, but it’s so hot, I’ve already got sweat in my eyes, the soles of my feet are burnt to a crisp and my blisters have developed their own blisters. We’ve just dragged (barefoot because I’m an idiot) four fully loaded Ark inflatables about 300m across scorching marble cliffs in the middle of the desert. What are we doing here? Everything about this place seems unreal. It’s day 3 and I still can’t seem to wrap my head around my surroundings. I’m now standing next to my inflatable, atop a cliff, the Orange River cutting through the valley below us. It’s about 30 or so metres down a sheer rock face to the bottom of Richie Falls where we will start the day’s drift through the desert. Richie Falls – massive and 100% unmakeable in a boat - is the main reason why we have just painfully dragged all our shit to this point. So, what are we doing here? It’s a Tourette Fishing exploratory trip. Johann du Preez of Tourette has teamed up with Max and Heinie from Gravity Adventures (the white water specialists) to check out a stretch of the Orange River as a possible combo float/fly fishing destination. This is what Tourette Fishing and guides like du Preez do. From Tanzania to Gabon, Lesotho and Sudan, they unearth incredible fishing destinations and establish them as sustainable, viable options for both visiting anglers and the local communities. Right now though, I’m not thinking about that the heat in Sudan or the humidity in Gabon, about business plans and assessments. I’m focused on the scorching desert sun of the

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Orange river, which acts as a natural border between Namibia and South Africa. The water below Ritchie Falls is looking cleaner than what we’ve passed through over the last few days and from what we can see up here, there are some super deep pools and drop offs and a few hundred meters of great water before we reach the infamous Big Bunny rapid, so named because when ‘big rapid’ is said with an Afrikaans accent, it sounds like ‘Big Rabbit.’ Dadumtish. Hopefully this change in terrain will bring a change in my luck. Like Atlantic salmon and tarpon, largemouth yellowfish are one of

“WE REACH THE INFAMOUS BIG BUNNY RAPID, SO NAMED BECAUSE WHEN ‘BIG RAPID’ IS SAID WITH AN AFRIKAANS ACCENT, IT SOUNDS LIKE ‘BIG RABBIT.’ DADUMTISH.” those fish carrying the unoriginal “fish of a thousand casts” bullshit. If that’s the case, I should have about ten by now. For the past two days our river guides have been sharing stories of behemoths that they have seen pulled out of various places as we pass by, yet no matter how hard we fish we can’t seem to come right. But now, standing on these cliffs, things are looking up down there. Below us are some massive shadows lurking under a rock, and just above them suctioned to the top side of a boulder are a pair of mudfish like I’ve never seen before. Body bag-sized

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All of a sudden things in the Jacuzzi got a bit weird when Ryan Janssens pulled out a massive smallmouth yellow Photo Johann du Preez

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barbel keep coming up for a gulps of air which can be heard echoing off the valley walls below us. The next hour is spent strapping down all the gear to the inflatables and then slowly, one at a time, we abseil each vessel down the cliff face. It’s quite an ordeal but the four of us are eager to press on and we get through it fast. I’ve got mixed feelings at this point. On the one hand, we’ve passed the half way mark on our trip and I am yet to get my hands on a largie. Truth be told, I’m losing faith. On the other hand, the fishing has been phenomenal so far. The smallmouth yellowfish are here in their thousands and in weight and attitude, these ones are in a league of their own. I’ve fished for smallies a few times before at Sterkfontein Dam, but never quite worked them out. They were fussy and unbelievably skittish, but on 5X or 6X tippet they give you one hell of a run for your money. These Orange River smallies are a whole different kettle of fish. I don’t think many of them have seen a person before, let

alone a fly and those that have are outraged. These fish have a temper on them and are far more aggressive than their cousins in Sterkies and will chase down a fly in the rapids in a heartbeat. I’m finding it hard not to forget about the largies all together, because when armed with the 5-weight nymph set up, almost every cast produces a fish, whereas I’ve been throwing the 7-weight Echo armed with 15lb tippet and a large zonker pattern for largies for days with nothing but the occasional little bump to show for it. Despite the warning that I keep getting from Johann, “Keep throwing that little tooth pick and something is gonna fuck you up,” I’m catching smallies by the millions so, “I’m quite alright thanks,” feels like a reasonable response. Besides, the 5-weight ‘finesse approach’ is what I know and it’s working for me so I reserve the larger stick for the deeper holes or slightly faster water in the hopes that I might find some beast lurking in the depths.

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THE PARTY POOPER Mornings are the best out here. The short period in the morning between waking up and before the sun hits the valley actually feels quite peaceful. It’s nice to get about an hour or so on the water before the sun beats you like it’s red-headed step child. The rest of the day is spent dripping with sweat, covered from head to toe in clothing, buffs and a thick layer of sun cream. We’ve come to a split in the river. Bird Alley on the right hand side is a narrow channel about 2-3 meters wide and very slow moving through overhanging branches and reeds. The left hand side is much wider, rockier and looks a hell of a lot better. I shout,  “Shotgun left!” and make a beeline to the best spot, leaving Johann to faff around down the right. I position myself downstream and get ready to place a cast up into the slack water behind some boulders when I hear Johann calling for me. He’s got a largie! It’s not a big one by the looks of it, but it’s the first one of the trip.

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I drop my rod, pick up the paddle and splash my way over to him like a water buffalo in a china shop, spooking every fish anywhere near me. Just before I get within shooting range the dickhead releases the fish. It was small, but we had no guarantee we’d catch another one. Or so I thought. With my channel ruined I decide to jump into Bird Alley about 50 meters downstream from Johann. I take my spot on the back of the Ark, pick up my 7-weight and get ready to make a cast. The fly plops into the water next to the boat as I strip line out of my Shilton and as it hits the water three smallies rush out from the overhang and headbutt each other out the way rushing to the fly only to stop dead and refuse it at the last minute. I pick the rod up and slap the fly down on the water again, the plop sends another bunch of fish darting out, only to again refuse me at the last second. I keep at it but it’s the same refusal each time. Without hesitation I grab the nymph stick with its 8lb leader and I’m on instantly to another fine smallie. It’s not long before I get three under my belt. Suddenly I realise I’ve got company. There’s a troop of baboons in an overhanging thorn tree. They are causing an absolute ruckus as they rough house with each other, smashing things as they crash through the thorny branches. Under the tree below them is even more chaos as in a feeding frenzy, a school of smallies devours everything that the babs are dropping into the water. Flowers, bugs, baboon shit, you name it. I approach slowly, but despite drifting up alongside the tree only a few meters from the closest baboon, my arrival has startled the troop and we are stuck in an awkward staring contest, waiting to see who makes the first move. The lack of movement in the trees has sent the smallies back underneath the overhang. I wait it out a few minutes and sure enough, the baby baboons start to play again and within seconds the commotion in the trees is back and so is the feeding

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frenzy. I flick my nymph straight into the middle and I’m onto a fish immediately, it’s a small one and I get it into the net quickly. The action has startled the troop again so I sit back down and wait it out, only to repeat the process again. This keeps going on for a while as the baboons have given up worrying about me. Another cast, my fly plops into the frenzy, this time nothing. I let it sink for a second, nothing... As I’m about to pull out I feel the fly get inhaled. I pull back and for a second can feel something on the other side, something monstrous. All hell breaks loose, as the behemoth turns his head and with the greatest of ease (invoking in me the kind of panic I imagine you get when your sleeve gets caught in the wood chipper), it drags me deep under the overhang through every branch and tree in its path before popping my leader like it was nothing. I spend the next 20 minutes untangling my fly line and backing from the collection of branches and weeds the fish left me with. As the baboons leave, still laughing at me, Johann’s warning rings in my head, “You are gonna get fucked up.” FIRE IN THE HOLES Over the last two days on the river, there’s a constant reminder of what’s yet to come; the Big Bunny rapid. The Orange is a mighty beast, of that there’s no doubt, but let’s be honest, in terms of whitewater it’s not the Zambezi. Still, it does possess some gnarly rapids and Max and Heinie have been talking up the Big Bunny nonstop. A level 3 rapid at the end of the canyon with multiple routes (few of them correct) down the rocky stretch of whitewater - there’s a very good chance one of us will flip our boat here. Judging by the smug look on the guides faces, today probably wasn’t going to be pleasant for everyone, but first, having made short work of the cliff portage, we have about a kilometer of the gorge to get through and a ton of really good looking water.

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As the roar of Richie Falls becomes more and more distant, Johann and I are fishing from the bank, scrambling across the scorching rocks looking for likely holes and eddies that could be holding a monster. He’s ahead of me, fishing the last section before we hit the rapids. Despite the deafening roar of the river, I still manage to hear him scream from far away. He’s into something huge. I can tell by his stance and the panic in his voice that this is a serious fish. Camera and rod in hand, I run along the cliffs to get to him. The ground is


Abseiling without sails, getting your Arks to below Richie Falls takes effort.

hot and my feet are raw, but this, the fish of the trip, is all I can think about as I sprint through the desert. First thing I see as I arrive is a giant flash as the fish rolls in the rapids. I think something along the lines of, ‘Fuck me sideways with a randy ennobled boer goat - that’s huge!’ and prepare to shoot. This moment has been three solid days in the making. The fish is starting to fade as Johann regains control of the fight and then it’s all over, the fish safely in his arms. Pure joy for the next few seconds as we scream and cheer, Johann holding his new personal best largie weighing in

at 12lbs on the Boga. High fives and celebratory ciggies as I snap a few pics of Johann and his beast before he lets it sink back into the hole it came from. Sulking ever so slightly, I make my way back to my Ark about 500m away, thinking I need to go search for a fish elsewhere. But, as I’m about to push off the shore I hear the same scream as before. Johann’s into another one. I contemplated just ignoring him, but then decided to suck it up and go have a look, sprinting all the way back across the rocks to where

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I’d just come from. This time is no different, he’s put another cast back into the same hole and hooked up with something even bigger. I sit and watch as he eventually gets his hands on what is now his new, new PB of 15lbs of pure barbus beefcake on steroids. I’m in two minds right now; do I congratulate him or just drown him right where he stands for pulling a stunt like that? There’s one last hole to fish before we throw ourselves at the mercy of the Big Bunny and it’s all mine. I put my cast in, it’s perfect, the line sinks and

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the entrance, the river pushes him wide and he’s on a collision course for The Ejector Seat, a large rock submerged just the right amount to knock you out the back of your boat if you manage to hit it. Sure enough, Johann goes aerial, flying arse over head into the white water, flailing the rest of the way down the rapids till he meets the guides in the calmer pool below. I would cheer and hoot at his misfortune like my baboon friends but it’s now my turn.

swings into position and boom! I’m stuck on terra firma! Furious, I start to yank the rod back and forth in every direction trying to free my fly, but it’s not working. I lock up the drag and take a step back to try pop the leader, when all of a sudden my rock grows fins, turns and fucks off upstream with me in tow. I’ve gone from cursing the demon rocks to a high pitched girly scream as I realize what’s actually going on. The fish is slowly starting to wear out, I’m gathering my line back when I realize that’s it’s still not the largie I have been looking for, but instead a rugby ball shaped smallie of epic proportions. 9lbs of solid gold it’s my new personal best smallie by a long long way.

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CONSOLATION RODEO Standing on the cliff slightly downstream from the Bunny, our guides point out the correct route and all the paths that should be avoided. Like high school trigonometry, it’s all Greek to me. There seem to be way too many routes that are off limits for the odds to be in my favour on this one. Johann and I sit and watch the guides leave one at a time, making their way through the rapids, showing us what to do (or more like what not to do since both of them ended up taking a path we were advised against). Johann is next and, high on fish glory, he’s charging the Bunny. Initially on point as he comes into

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This is a serious rapid. Just like I should have listened to Johann about the 7-weight, I should have listened to Max and Heinie about the rapid. My nerves are at a whole new level. Helmet on, life jacket strapped up, I give myself a little pep talk as I start to pick up pace. Mid-speech, dawns on me how futile any of our previous planning was. The lay of the river is completely different when looking at it from the back seat of an ark as opposed to from the cliffs. I’ve got a vague idea, but I’m pretty much just winging it from here – a mere speck of baboon shit flying towards a feeding frenzy of white water. I hit the entrance and do well enough to make the next section, but then see The Ejector Seat flying my way. Pinning my feet to the straps, one hand on the paddle and the other on whatever part of the Ark I can grab, I close my eyes and brace for what’s about to happen. I feel the rock hit the Ark, followed by the irresistible bounce of The Ejector Seat passing under me, but slightly to the side. The current swings me around and I complete the last of the rapids backwards, hanging on for dear life like the village drunk strapped backward to a randy burro. I’m whooping my triumph over Johann, but it’s a hollow victory. Given the choice between my reverse cowgirl near botching of a level 3 rapid, or, two beast largies and a swim? I’d take the latter.


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D ES T I N AT I O N O M A N

A RIDE ON THE RAS-MAD ROLLERCOASTER JEFF TYSER EXPERIENCES THE FULL SPECTRUM OF E M OT I O N S , W H I LST C H AS I N G I N D O - PAC I F I C P E R M I T O N SOUTHERN OMAN’S REMOTE BEACHES. Photos Jeff Tyser Artwork Dillion Harland

“What the fuck am I even doing here?” I can’t recall if the words actually left my mouth or simply crossed my mind. The nearest human was at least two kilometers down the beach, might as well have been a scream. It was early December, four days into a permit pilgrimage to the hallowed beaches of Southern Oman. Reminiscing now, ensconced in the comfort of hindsight, day four had been a particularly good one. I was finally finding fish. Truckloads, by permit standards. My crab had been in the zone so many times that day, I’d long since lost count. At one point I even came across a whole shoal of the bastards, which toyed with my emotions for a good twenty minutes before somehow evaporating right before my eyes. Then there was the setting. Dubbed ‘The Badlands’ by Ray Montoya, a nod to those dramatic geological anomalies of South Dakota, it’s hard to imagine a more spectacular backdrop to a permit flat. Days like this are the stuff of fantasy. I should have been in my element. I should

have been out there in the last hour of sunlight, feverishly hunting shadows and golden fins. But I wasn’t. I was sitting on a rock, high up the beach, knee-deep in an existential crisis. With 26-years of flyfishing behind me – including a successful trip to these very beaches a year earlier – I felt incapable of doing anything useful with a flyrod, let alone enough to fool the ocean’s most cynical inhabitant. As you may have guessed, I was yet to touch a permit. Perhaps I should elaborate a little, before you write me off as a jaded lunatic. I blame Ben for some of it. My fishing partner on this trip also happens to be the most accomplished fisherman I know. With thousands of hours of sight-fishing experience behind him – from hunting South Island browns, to largies on the Vaal, to those notoriously finicky Mahé bones – the man possesses a DalaiLama-like serenity around fish. This had no doubt helped him get the monkey off his back nice and early, the day before in fact, and he now seemed to be hoodwinking permit with gay abandon.

I’ve never really been one for numbers – weighing, measuring, keeping score. But when your mate has tailed THREE permit in ONE day, FOUR in total, and you are yet to get on the board, the numbers start to hog a rather large chunk of your psyche. Back at camp that evening Ray waxed lyrical over Ben’s triplefish day (evidently a feat as rare as they come down south). All he could offer me was a consolation beer. So, there was Ben. And then were the demons. 2017 had been the toughest year of my life. A lengthy battle with clinical depression had culminated in the end of my marriage. It was the most complicated, confusing, and exhausting of times. This trip was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel, a catharsis, something to numb the pain. At the very least, I was hoping for some light relief. Halfway in and I was starting to wonder if my journey into the desert would only serve to feed the demons. “Honestly,” I thought/said/ screamed, “fuck these fish.”

“WITH THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF SIGHT-FISHING EXPERIENCE BEHIND HIM – FROM HUNTING SOUTH ISLAND BROWNS, TO LARGIES ON THE VAAL, TO THOSE NOTORIOUSLY FINICKY MAHÉ BONES – THE MAN POSSESSES A DALAI-LAMA-LIKE SERENITY AROUND FISH.”

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DIY permit crew Ray Montoya, Jeff Tyser and Ben Pellegrini

By day five the sea was well and truly on its head. It felt like our window of opportunity had been slammed shut by the 30-knot gales. Ben and I had arrived in Oman hoping to find the turquoise millpond that keeps popping up in Ray’s Instagram feed. We were now faced with the polar opposite. In search of calmer seas, we continued south towards the quaint town of Shuwaymiyyah, yet despite more stable conditions we didn’t see a single permit. With time running out, we had to gamble, and made the call to return to the Ras Madrakah region. There was no doubt it was going to be incredibly tough to spot fish up there

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(let alone put a crab in front of one), but at least we knew they were around. In a way, I found these dwindling odds quite liberating. With only a few days left, I made a conscious effort to relax and embrace the experience for what it was. I have been privileged to fish in some truly unique places around the world, but a DIY mission to Southern Oman stands all on its own. It certainly isn’t easy. If it’s Trachinotus Blochii you’re after, expect to cover huge distances, by car and on foot, for very little reward. Expect unrelenting exposure to extreme sun, heat, sand and wind. Expect trash in quantities that will diminish your faith in humanity, and

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a commercial fishing industry that will all but destroy whatever faith remains. Whatever you do, don’t expect anything remotely resembling a consistent fishery. Despite the obvious adversities – perhaps because of them – there’s a magic to the place that, once experienced, never leaves you. It’s in the stark beauty and deafening silence of the Arabian Desert, the sense of freedom, and the absolute simplicity of it all. It’s in the pursuit of flyfishing’s holy grail, without needing live-aboards, skiffs or guides, without cocktails, billionaires and 5-star cuisine. The whole experience is raw, visceral and, if you ask me, absolutely perfect.


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Clockwise from left: Ben with an Omani Permit, Ben with an Omani Bream, Ben scratches a dead pigeon while Jeff gives East Side respect

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Day 7. A change in attitude and a little perspective had put a spring back in my step. Then Ben, like a true asshole, pinned permit number five. At least he proved it could be done. I gave him the most insincere high-5 of my life, and began scanning the windswept surf with renewed intent.

by a commotion a little further up the beach. My brain was a bit slow on the uptake, but I eventually realised what I was looking at. A permit had literally beached itself, and was flapping about wildly on the wet sand. Ray had told us that they sometimes err in judgment like this. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The conditions were now forcing our hand. Instead of walking ten kilometers a day, we figured our best bet was to stake out the calmer gutters and holes, where visibility was slightly better. While staring intently into one such area, I was distracted

Seemingly undeterred, the fish slid back into the gutter on the next receding wave and continued on his merry, crab-hunting way. It just so happened that that way was straight towards me. Instinct took over. The big Alphlexo landed short, but this dude

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was on a mission. He was all over it in a flash. I set, and the water exploded as he turned for deeper water. “Holy shit, this is happening!” (I was definitely screaming now.) The fight was a blur, if I’m honest, as was the frantic, fumbling selfie session that followed. Only once he’d kicked off powerfully from my hand did I begin to fully appreciate what had happened. I’d forgotten just how sweet that rush is. As the serotonin began to flood my brain, I also realised just how badly I had needed it.


Ras Mad redemption as Jeff finally lands that elusive Omani permit

My mojo was back, and with it came a permit a day for the next three days. Ben got another, making it a nice, round ten for the trip between the two of us (but who’s counting, right?). Gambles don’t always pay off. It sure is a great feeling when they do. By the end of our last afternoon, I was more at peace with the world and myself than I had been all year. The next morning we would pack up camp for the last time and begin the long journey back to civilisation; back to my problems. I felt like I was returning to face them in the best possible frame of mind.

“THE FIGHT WAS A BLUR, IF I’M HONEST, AS WAS THE FRANTIC, FUMBLING SELFIE SESSION THAT FOLLOWED. ONLY ONCE HE’D KICKED OFF POWERFULLY FROM MY HAND DID I BEGIN TO FULLY APPRECIATE WHAT HAD HAPPENED.”

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Two fins swayed languidly in the shore break, jolting me from my introspection. If a single image could represent the entire spectrum of emotions I’d experienced over the last ten days, surely this was it. Agony, ecstasy or anything in between, potentially just one false cast away. This time, fittingly perhaps, it was not meant to be. In the late afternoon light, those golden sickles seemed detached not just from the fish below, but from reality itself. Like so many images from the trip, they’re printed indelibly on my mind, forever tempting me to return.

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D ES T I N AT I O N

JURASSICK “ T HE YO U T H ” M A KE P OOR LIFE DECISIONS, RIGHT? MAY BE, B UT WHE N T H E CH A NCE PRESEN TED ITSELF TO CELEBRATE A S I G NI FI CA NT BI RT HDAY CATCHING PREHISTORIC-SIZED T RO U T I N PATAG O NI A WITH HIS OLD MAN, TIM LEPPAN S HOWE D WI SDOM BEYOND HIS Y EARS

CHOOSE LIFE If there’s a choice, choose adventure. Choose bonding with the old man. Choose avoiding the three-day hangover, drooling into the corduroy of the stained digs couch and half-memories that blend into each other. Choose Argentine asado over late-night McD’s. Choose Malbec over Tassies for just one week. Choose prehistoric rainbow trout. Choose browns, brooks and everything else in between. Choose fly fishing. Choose life.

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ith apologies to Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton for bastardizing his classic intro diatribe to Trainspotting, I needed to borrow that to relate a simple story about a bleedingly obvious choice I made. But first, some background. My father and I have always been competitive when it comes to fishing. It’s a subtle thing, understated yet super intense. We can be fishing all day, non-stop without uttering a single word, yet to us we’ve had full on conversations, our shared competitive nature goading each other into fishing harder. People around us seldom pick up on it, but it’s there. This came into play when, as I approached my 21st birthday, the old man asked what I wanted to do to celebrate. The 21st, it’s that coming of age birthday. You’ve passed the legal age of pretty much everything with the 18th and had a few years to find your feet. The way I see it, after your 21st, nobody really cares (other than family) until your half century. The 21st is the gear shift. A final farewell skop elevating you from complete laaitie status. After that the message is clear - bugger off and go find your own way. I’m a Stellenbosch University student, so the obvious choice for the 21st was a bender with my mates. It was initially the lead option, but the more my father and I discussed it, the more I realized that while taking ten boozy 3rd year Stellies students for a night out with a comped bar tab sounded great to me, to the old man, it sounded like an average idea. Especially when the booze would just leave us with foggy half memories of the celebration (if any at all). “Remember that one time in Stellies that we…?”

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“Er...” “Me neither.” So, in what might have been a slight act of betrayal to my mates, I began to think of another option, one that would appeal to both of us way, way more. “Dad, let’s do something we’ll never do again?” I said. “Where you going with this, T?” he said. My dream was always to fly fish a unique part of the world on a father-son trip, where we let loose together in the hunt for big fish. Sure, it would cost a small fortune, but he’s retired, maturing well (aka still fit) and if ever there was a good reason and time to pitch this, it was now. “How about… a guns blazing, overseas, fly fishing trip? Somewhere miles away from home, a place we’d never see again? Somewhere like Lake Jurassic?” Links were shared, conditions were set (exams had to be passed), plans were made and then, as sudden as a take, the old man made the booking. We were going to Patagonia in search of Jurassic Lake’s massive trout! COLD COMFORT Five months later, we were en route. Joburg - São Paulo, São Paulo – Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires - El Calafate. Lay-overs for over-eager twenty-year olds with a burning desire to get stuck into fish are rather unpleasant. Similar to that of an exam period. Time never seems to move, however, this was different. It hadn’t even hit me yet that we were currently in a new country, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The overnight stops, introduction to Malbec and Argentinian lamb

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and the glacier tour were all good, but to be honest they were the sideshow. My excitement levels hit a fever pitch as we finally jumped into a bus heading off on the five-hour journey to Estancia Laguna Verde. With two hours out, we jumped into last transport, the lodge vehicles, with two guys per guide. Thus, my father and I were coupled with our guide, Ivan Belleggia on the kidney killer drive into the lodge.


With Jono Boulton of Mavungana Fly Fishing, aka Duracell bunny, leading the charge, it wasn’t long before I was blown off my feet, literally and figuratively. Still in exam mode, I learned a few things very fast. I learned very quickly what the definition of cold was and that what I thought was I had previously considered a strong wind, was only a breeze compared to what I experienced in Patagonia. From the

mountains to the lagunas, the glaciers to the skies, I learned that Argentina is the most breathtaking country I’d ever laid eyes on. For example, there was Lake Argentino’s glacial display Take Table Mountain, turn it into ice, add a couple of condors and a 100km/h wind for good measure and you’re getting close. I learned that it was possible to have a lamb braai (BBQ) – in the snow – in mid-summer. Coming off the waters one evening

a strange bank of misty-type clouds rolled in off the Andes. We expected drizzle but, no, this was Patagonia so it snowed, while we drank Malbec and braaied. No wonder the water is 4 deg C.

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Lastly, I soon learned that all those giant fish associated with Jurassic Lake/Lago Strobel – they’re not Photoshopped. The fishing truly is unreal.


THE BARRANCOSA BARREL Each day, after a 6am wake up, we’d smash breakfast and be ready and waiting for our guide to collect us with the day’s plan at 7am. Gearing up in “the office” at the lodge was up there with the most exciting aspects of our trip. It’s where we’d all suit up and strap on our boots whilst negotiating intensely the plans and goals for the day that lay ahead with our respective guides. Goals at Jurassic Lake are

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generally summarized as, “I want massive fish,” “I want tons of fish,” and “I want those river fish.” Come day 3 our tune had changed to, “just surprise me,” because by then, everyone had genuinely fulfilled their wildest dreams, settled old scores and reached new limits of fishing nirvana. Days were broken up into two sessions; the morning session followed by lunch which took place

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on Lago Strobel under a simple shelter to protect you from the wind. Then there’d be an afternoon session before heading back to the lodge. You can choose where you’d like to fish for each session or go with the guide’s suggestion. The water available to us was Lago Strobel, 12 smaller lagunas (lakes), 10kms of the Barrancosa River and as well as the Moro Creek. The Laguna in front of the lodge, named Laguna


Verde (meaning Green Lake, due to the colour of its water) had Browns, Brooks and Rainbows with the remaining bodies of water holding only Rainbows. All the Lagunas were off colour compared to the crystal clear, Seychelles blue of Lago Strobel and the Barrancosa River which is also clear as day depending on snow melt. Most of the guys requested to fish Lago Strobel or the Lower beat on the Barrancosa River. Understandable

choice, they were looking for the big boys, the 20lb Jurassic Lake fish, or, the sheer numbers the lower beat of the river provided. Fishing the lower sections of the Barrancosa was like shooting fish in a barrel. You could comfortably sit on one pool for a whole session, hooking up constantly. The higher you went on the Barrancosa the fewer big fish there were and the more spooky they became and the challenge increased

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especially with trying to present to picky fish in strong winds. The wind on the lake was stronger, making the fishing physically difficult, however if you could push through the wind, you were well rewarded as those mammoth 20lb fish tended to feed in the turbulent, upset water. We had a moment I’ll never forget on the Barrancosa River, when immediately upon arrival on the middle section, all four anglers were

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Yo, his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. Prehistoric rainbow on the other end, rod’s whippy like mom’s spaghetti. 52

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on simultaneously. Some on mouse patterns, others on streamers and egg patterns. Each of us into river fish that in most other parts of the world would be stuffed and hung on the wall and earn you an interview in the local paper. BROWN SUGAR When you’re gorging yourself on giant fish, day in, day out, it’s easy to get a bit blasé, a bit complacent, a bit… weird. The final day of our trip, I made a request that had the guides cough up their coffee. I was desperate to put

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Patagonian Brown under my belt. The response from one of the guides - “You’ve got twenty-pound rainbow trout cruising Lake Strobel, yet you want to play around with five pound fish?” After much convincing, Luciano, the farm owner, granted permission for my guide, Ivan, to fish with me. My father handed over the quota of cigars for the trip, which was his way of saying, “give it horns.” By now everyone in camp knew about my obsession for browns. It became the lodge joke, with everyone wanting to

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know how the hunt went after each session. But after session three I was losing heart. I had come tight only moments before with a good brown which, of course, I managed to break off. We found ourselves heading back down to the laguna in front of the lodge. This was the body of water that held browns. Ivan and I lit up our respective cigars which set the tone. It was going to happen. First cast, Ivan’s tight, a brown! Grinning from ear to ear he said, “Don’t worry gringo they are here.”


I strapped on the biggest streamer I possessed, the muishond. Next cast, vas, I was in! The fish stayed deep holding in structure. Shortly after it showed its face, we realized it was a brookie and a tank at that. With an hour left of light, we shifted to the cliff section of the laguna. I noticed a large boulder two meters off the bank, threw a leader cast behind it and started twitching the baitfish pattern using the tip of the rod. Immediately a dark shadow emerged, engulfing the muishond. After the first jump we knew it was my brown. I tightened up and

pulled as hard as I could, eventually bringing it in. Stoked on fish and cigars, Ivan and I sat there for another hour, having a full on conversation where the both of us had no cooking clue what the other was saying. I was speaking English and he was speaking Spanish, but through sign language and smiles any fly fisherman would have got the rough gist of it. Ivan got to fish for a change and I got my brown. Heading back to the lodge filled with satisfaction, the first face we came across was my father’s.

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I could see, he knew we’d done it. And the old competition between us? It hardly featured, because who’s got the time or inclination to count fish when the fishing’s that good? Between the red wine and ridiculously large trout, the old man’s experience was quite possibly even better than mine. As a joint trip, it created a bond between my father and I like never before. Given the choice again? I’d choose fly fishing. I’d choose life.

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L AT ES T R E L E A S ES

THE SALAD BAR ABEL – NEW SUPER SERIES REELS Customization is the name of the game with the new Abel Super Series fly reels. Expect the same hardcore fish stopping power, but with even more choice on the style front. Working from Abel’s signature high gloss black coral as a base, you can select from either 15 solid colour finishes, OR detailed fish patterns OR the hand-painted designs of Jon Osiris, Derek DeYoung and Andrea Larko, pimping to your heart’s content (and maybe your wallet’s lament as the more detailed the design, the higher the price). Abel, if you’re listening, the solid style Osiris Tribal Grizzly finish and walnut handle speaks to us. abelreels.com, www.frontierflyfishing.co.za

PATAGONIA – MIDDLE FORK PACKABLE WADERS For when you’re going on a trip and you’re not sure what fishing is available. For when it’s between seasons and you’re not sure if you should be wet wading or packing waders. For when there’s the tiniest space available in your bag. For all that - Patagonia’s new Middle Fork Packable Waders are begging to be picked. The lightest, most technically advanced waders Patagonia have ever made, the only way these essentials are heavy, is in features. From Patagonia’s seamless booty technology, to single seam construction for easy movement and comfort, recycled materials, easily adjustable suspenders and wading belt, heavy duty scuff guards, an interior waterproof pocket for your phone and, at 26 ounces (737gms), weighing almost nothing, it’s hard to think of a reason not to stuff these in your bag. www.patagonia.com

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ORVIS – NIPPERS Das Uber Nipper – that’s what we would have called these wonderfully over-engineered “Type III military-spec anodized” beauties. Made from machined 6061-T6 aluminum, they feature a piano-style hinge for extra heft when cutting any tippet from 80 lb to 8X. Replaceable cutter and anvil offer excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention. Add to that an ergonomic contour for comfort and enhanced function, a rotating hook eye cleaner and a lanyard made from fly line. www.orvis.com, www.flyfishing.co.za

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

REDINGTON – BEHEMOTH (DESERT) Great value and big fish-fighting reels don’t usually go together, because quality tends to cost you. Redington reject that however with what they’ve built with the incredibly competitively-priced Behemoth. Available from 5-weight right up to the heavy salt sizes, the Behemoth’s die-cast construction sports a durable, inter-locking large-arbor spool that Redington promise “both looks and functions like a premium reel.” The heavy-duty carbon fiber drag adds credence to that claim, the price sweetens the deal and the military-style ‘Desert’ colour just makes us want to take it for a long walk on the beach. www.redington.com, www.xplorerflyfishing.co.za

THE SHADY CORNER

COSTA – CAPE Take Costa’s patented 580 lens technology, which provides 100 percent UV protection and fantastic polarization. Now, factor in a design that features temple ventilation ports which work with sweat management temple channels to reduce lens fogging. The result – an excellent, oversized wrap-style pair of Costa’s that will keep you focused on the fishing, not the fog. Plus, Costa are big on the environmentally friendly front (check out their Kick Plastic campaign) so it’s not surprising these shades are made with biodegradable resins sourced from reclaimed castor oil. Available in matte black ultra, shiny steel gray metallic, bowfin and matte russet, with 580 polycarbonate lenses in seven different lens colours. The new frame can also be customized with prescription lenses. From $179 to $259, based on lens selection. www.costadelmar.com

MAUI JIM - POKOWAI ARCH Maui Jim keep unleashing great looking new releases and the Pokowai Arch is an absolute belter. With a high arch and rectangular frame, these fashion forward shades are as well suited to fishing as they are everyday life. For the salt, we’d recommend the translucent matte grey frames with the Blue Hawaii lens (best for bright, direct sunlight). For the changing shade/sun conditions of freshwater we’d go for the olive tortoise frame with the warm, HCL® Bronze lens for the versatility you get from them in changing conditions. www.mauijim.com

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L AT ES T R E L E A S ES

THE SALAD BAR TACKY - COLLAB DROPPER BOX We love a good collab between brands at the top of their game and this combo Tacky and Orvis fly box is no different. Swop out the Tacky blue for a more Orvissy green; have one side fitted with the Original Tacky Mat for small nymphs and the other with the Big Bug Tacky Mat for heftier patterns (from splat-worthy hoppers to streamers and big nymphs) and the result is a perfectly balanced hopper-dropper box, holding a total of 240 flies. www.orvis.com, www.flyfishing.co.za

ORVIS – ENCOUNTER OUTFIT Fly-curious? You wouldn’t buy a G-Wagen or a Ferrari for your first car (unless you’re a minor Saudi princeling), so why break the bank on your first rig? A 4-piece, 9’ 5-weight rod, plus large arbor Encounter reel, weightforward floating line, backing and leader - Orvis’s Encounter Outfit hits all the right notes for the new angler frothing to dive deep into the fly fishing frenzy. Perfect for most trout waters, it will also handle bass as well as smaller carp and yellowfish. Don’t be surprised if it stays in your quiver for years to come. w w w. o r v i s . c o m , www.flyfishing.co.za

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XPLORER – TRAVEL DUFFLE AND ROD BAG One of those low-key yet indispensable pieces of gear, Xplorer’s Travel and Duffle Bag is a hard-wearing, lightweight, water-resistant PVC travel bag. At 100L it will take all your crap, but because it weighs in at less than 2kg, it allows you to stay under the 20kg weight limit many airlines demand. It saves on weight by foregoing roller wheels, but would you rather have that spare rod and fly boxes, or wheels? Your call. Webbing straps, carry handles, shoulder straps and a secure, lockable rod compartment with easy side access complete the package. www.xplorerflyfishing.co.za

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SIMMS – TACO BAG It’s not what you think, and, before you accuse Simms of false advertising, forgive them, because while it’s not lunch, the Taco bag is that product you wish you’d had earlier, before your car started smelling worse than a dorm room slathered in barracuda slime. At the end of a day’s fishing, simply put your waders, boots and whatever else has potential to smell and ooze, into the middle of the PU‐ coated 600 denier ballistic nylon shell bag. Zip it up and return to civilization. Just remember to empty it out later. www.simmsfishing.com, www.frontierflyfishing.co.za

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THINK BIG! JURASSIC LAKE - HUGE FISH… ON DRY FLY… IN ONE OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE DESTINATIONS ON EARTH. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? There are big trout and then there are GIANT trout. Patagonia’s famed Jurassic Lake (aka Lago Strobel) is perhaps THE global destination for monster rainbow trout. But what makes it so special, is that these fish aren’t scarce genetic freaks. When it comes to the rainbow trout of Lake Jurassic and its tributary, the Barrancoso river, big fish are the norm. With years of experience visiting Jurassic Lake, Mavungana Flyfishing stays exclusively at Estancia Laguna Verde. Boasting access to over 43km of the lake shore, 10km of the Barrancoso River, 12km of Moro Creek and numerous smaller lakes and lagoons packed with rainbows, brown trout and brook trout, Estancia Laguna Verde is a fly

Mavungana Flyfishing Johannesburg 011 268 5850

fisherman’s dream destination. Fish hard all day, catch the fish of your dreams (over and over again) and then relax in the extreme comfort of the lodge where you will feast on the best Argentine asado (BBQ/Braai) and the finest local wines. Think turquoise blue waters. Think of a vast selection of water teeming with trophy fish. Think of fishing yourself silly all day and then kicking back in the best lodge. Think of those 20lb rainbow trout. Now stop thinking and get in touch with Mavungana Flyfishing to book your trip.

email us (info@flyfishing.co.za) for details.

WWW.FLYFISHING.CO.ZA

Mavungana Flyfishing Dullstroom 013 254 0270


WANDS

THE MISSION – CTHULU’S WET DREAM His noodledy lordship dreams of tarpon, drowned souls, boozy mermaids, pirates, anchors and a message in a bottle. Get your limited edition T-shirt in either grey or white from The Mission, by emailing info@themissionflymag.com with your size and location. e.g. “XL, Cape Town, South Africa” or “Medium, Tightwad, Missouri, USA” (an actual town). Price: R350 ($30 Local postage included in South Africa. International postage not included in price. Ts & Cs apply.

SAGE – LOGO HOODY Be under no illusions. This hoody is not made from mutant monkey ball hair to mil-spec standards, nor was the fabric harvested from the freshest Fijian coconut fibres using the latest DARPA bots. It’s just a hoody; a beautiful one made from heavyweight cotton by Sage and packed with fleecygoodness. Available in ‘charcoal heather’ (good for hiding most stains), it’s versatile enough for anything from air travel purgatory to campfire zone outs and may just become your next wardrobe essential www.sageflyfish.com, www.frontierflyfishing.co.za

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Photo Knut Otto

THE SALAD BAR

C&F DESIGNS - MSF NYMPHING BOX This nifty waterproof nymph box features some MENSA-level street cred. With three Micro Slit Foams and two storage faces for split shots and indicators, it also boasts a unique ‘Magic Fly Sheet’ which catches loose weighted nymphs - and prevents them from rolling around and lastly, a dropper wallet for pre- rigged spare leaders. www.c-and-f.co.jp, www.frontierflyfishing.co.za


M U S T H AV ES

PAYDAY BENSON KNIVES – THE KIRIDASHI TOOL

STEALTH KAYAKS - POWER FISHA 14 We spotted this wee beastie on the Instagram feed of Carl Freese of the Tugela Fishing Company (IG: tugelafishingco) a while ago and wondered what the hell we were looking at. He was cruising around Sterkfontein Dam on it, operating it both like a small motorboat with a two-stroke engine, like a kayak and like a SUP (for stealthy approaches). Designed for both freshwater and saltwater applications (though we would not tackle anything too choppy in the salt) you can cast off the Stealth Power Fisha 14 from a standing position or sit your lazy ass down. Starting from R27 995 ($2300) the Power Fisha can be customized as you see fit with a centre box, seat and hatch, rod holders, grippy decking and, if paddling around seems limiting (or a ballache), you can fit a two-stroke engine. Did we mention, it weighs just 44kg? It’s an investment, but if you fish solo a lot, it could be a game changer. Think of it as having the benefits of a boat, but without the expense and hack of actually having a boat. stealthkayaks.co.za

Somewhere between a scalpel and a Ninja’s butter knife, Kiridashi knives were originally designed for pruning and shaping bonsai trees. Fortunately for us, avid fly fisherman, and full time custom knifemaker, Mark Benson of Benson Knives, recognized the potential of the traditional Kiridashi as a specialized tool for fly tying. After completing an order of custom Damascus steel knives for Jay Smit, of JVice fame, Mark used an offcut of Damascus knife steel to produce a suitably proportioned fly tier’s kiridashi and presented it to Jay to test as an alternative to scissors. Jay’s enthusiastic endorsement encouraged Mark to refine the design and begin marketing these knives. Mark says, “The tool is CNC cut from knife steel, engraved and then hand ground. After heat treatment the blade is further ground to an edge, sanded, polished and then honed to a scalpel edge on 8000 grit Japanese water stones. The fine-edged kiridashi accurately trims threads and errant hackle fibres with just a touch.” Add to that cutting foam hopper bodies, threatening doorbell-ringers and opening snail mail and you have a stunning, versatile tool your grandkids will one day inherit. The tool can be supplied in a wooden holder, made from a variety of local or exotic woods. Damascus steel and custom engraving are options. For more, check out Benson knives on Facebook or go to www.bensonknives.com

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SHORTCASTS

A E R I A L A N D A Q U AT I C I N S TA N U T S , C U T T H R O AT C L E A R WAT E R R E V I VA L A N D A N E X P O N O T T O B E M I S S E D

CHECK OUT… …the incredible three-day smorgasbord of events on offer with the 2018 iteration of the South African Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Expo:

FOLLOW… … Kiyoshi Nakagawa (IG: nzyoshi) and Erik Moncada on Instagram (IG:underwatertrout). On social media, where the majority of fish photos are grip and grins, it’s refreshing to see someone doing the opposite. Nakagawa nails aerial takes while Moncada specializes in underwater shots.

MARVEL AT… … the incredible return from extinction of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. A bit of a back from the death Dodo tale, this giant strain of cutthroat trout which is the state fish of Nevada was thought to have gone extinct through the damming of its home waters, invasive species etc. But when what were thought to be remnants of the strain were found in a tiny creek in the 1970s, locals hoped for the best. Through pioneering scientific techniques that developed in the 1990s, DNA from the creek fish was checked against museum samples from over 100 years ago and were verified to be the LHC big boys (these fish can grow to 40lbs). Stocked in Nevada’s Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe the fish are following their ancient migratory pattern again. Sniff.

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- Expo Benefit Bash - 27 July Along with great grub and a shoulder rub from the who’s who of African fly fishing, look out for an incredible auction of items like a bronze sculpture from Chris Bladen, a one-of-a-kind bamboo rod from a collaboration between renowned rod makers Stephen Dugmore and Stephen Boshoff and freestyle salmon flies by Ruhan Boshoff. - Expo Retail Day – 28 July The big one – all the exhibitors you can handle in one place at Lourensford Wine Estate. Check out tying demos from some of the most innovative fly-tyers in Africa, take part in a casting demo, discover all the latest products and connect with the guide companies who will take you on that trip of a lifetime. - Expo – Workshop Day – 29 July Whether you’re a one-track specialist or a generalist, there’s a range of workshops on offer From fly line 101 (with Airflo’s Gareth Jones) to trout, bass, carp, Eur Nymphing, saltwater, Cape streams and stillwaters. For more info on this must-visit event, go to ffftexpo.co.za.

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WANDS

CAUSE & EFFECT T H O M A S & T H O M A S ’ S F L A G S H I P S A LT W A T E R S E R I E S , T H E E X O C E T T, H A S E S TA B L I S H E D I T S E L F A S A C AT E G O R Y L E A D E R , B U T W H AT A B O U T I T S C O U S I N S , T H E E X O C E T T S S 3 5 0 A N D T H E E X O C E T T P R E D AT O R ?

THE EXOCETT SS 350 Over the course of two trips to Gabon, The Mission team put the Thomas & Thomas Exocett SS350 through its paces, catching Giant African Threadfin, Cubera snapper, Guinea snapper, Jack Crevalle and West African grunter on the 10-weight SS350. Editor at large Conrad Botes says, “For Gabon, your principle target is tarpon from the shore, so your go-to weapon is a 12-weight, but when the tarpon were not around, which was often, we’d go for the area’s many other species with our 10-weights. Unlike the East coast of Africa and Indian Ocean destinations where a 9-weight is often the preferred smaller species rod, a 10-weight is what you want for Gabon because even the smaller species get big. After casting 12-weights all day and all night, casting the 10-weight SS 350 was an absolute pleasure. It feels like a lightweight rod, but it has plenty of backbone. Even though at 8’8″ it is shorter than the Exocett 12-weight, I could cast DMAs or any other kind of fly and punch out plenty of distance with it. It accounted for plenty of threadies (Giant African Threadfin), kob, jacks and grunter, but having fought a few strong fish with it, I also felt confident that if I did hook a tarpon, I still had a good chance of getting it onto the beach with the 10-weight. For my purposes, it proved to be a lekker all-round surf rod with lots of backbone that can easily toss big flies.”

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Veteran guide Llewellyn Claven, who you’ll usually find bouncing between seasons in South America or the Seychelles, has been testing the SS350 a bit further afield, both off a boat and on foot. He says, “I have fished the Exocett SS  350 in the north of Argentina going for golden dorado where we were drifting past structure and casting at the openings between dead trees. Casting 8/0 and 4/0 flies, both poppers and deceivers, I liked the fact that you could pick up the line rather quickly and place it in the next opening with no problem at all. It accounted for dorado, piranha and pirapitinga too (Ed, a big-ass pacu). At Astove in the Seychelles I used Alex Gerbec’s SS350 which, paired with a Cortland Tropical Plus and a Shilton reel, proved to be the perfect set up, especially for tricky triggers with lock jaw. Again, picking up the line and recasting easily, I found you could work on presentation without stripping all the line back in. I love the mixture of synthetic cork in the Full Wells grip, which I found gave a nicer grip feeling. Picking up the SS 350, I immediately felt more confident from the feel and the control I had with it.” THE EXOCETT PREDATOR Across the Atlantic, in much colder conditions, Jako Lucas (aka Capt. Jack) tested out the Exocett SS Predator in Virginia, when he joined Blane Chocklett on a Muskie mission. This is what he found. The 9’6” Exocett Predator SS

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"HOWZAAAAAT!?!" Try as he might, Jako Lucas never could quite get the Americans to understand cricket." Photo Badfish

Jako says, “We were fishing Blane’s muskie stomping grounds in Virginia. I had actually never fished for Muskies before this trip, but knew that if I had my shit together, including my tackle, that Blane would put me onto my first. One of the key elements that stood out about T&T Exocett Predator SS is that it is 9’6” so half a foot longer then the Exocett. That’s great not only when you need a bit of height fishing in the surf, but in our case casting huge flies with heavy sinking lines. It is also a bit lighter than the normal Exocett in its weight

range. That helps a lot casting the big flies from early morning till late afternoon. It has an extended butt section that helps a bunch with the dreaded figure 8, at the end of every cast. Muskie can very often follow the fly right to the end of the strip and with no line left to strip you need to be able to move the fly around to entice an eat. With the extra length and backbone, I was able to get the rod deep into the water and work the fly though the figure 8 to entice a Muskie to eat the fly right at the boat. The extended butt section also helps

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you dig the rod it into your body when you have to strip set on a fish to get the hook into the boney mouth.” “They say a Muskie is a fish of 10000 casts, so you have to be able to cast these huge flies all day long. With the extra length and serious backbone, the Exocett Predator SS brings, I was able to cast huge flies with a lot less effort. As with the rest of the Exocett series of rods. the rod is light and powerful with a steep taper that allows you to punch the line in strong winds.”

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F LY F L I C K S

CHAR GRILLED A R A P I D - F I R E C AT C H U P W I T H K E I T H R O S E - I N N E S A B O U T LY B A L A K H H I S N E W F I L M O N G I A N T A R C T I C C H A R D E E P I N T H E R E M O T E S I B E R I A N M O U N TA I N S Photo c/o Keith Rose-Innes

How did you get involved with Lybalakh? I was invited my long-time friend Ilya Sherbovich (Ed. of the Ponoi River - IG: isherbovich). Before this project what was your experience with Arctic Char? I had never caught one so they were on the top of my bucket list! What was your expectation of the destination before going there? Are the Siberian mountains as unforgiving as they sound? I didn’t realise that it was going to be as hard as it was. Long hours of fishing, little reward, fluctuating temperatures (–5 degrees in the same few hours), lots of mosquitos and then no mosquitos. I have done many trips to Siberia with Ilya in the past … to the most remote places but this is definitely the most remote. What did you find? Monster Arctic Char, that are hard to catch, live deep and come up to the shallows on occasion to digest.

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How do you tackle up for these fish? Standard 10-weight outfit with every type of line you can imagine to try work them out. In the end it was intermediate lines and small baitfish patterns that worked. Logistically, how difficult is it to send an exploratory team after these fish? Impossible, as it requires a budget comprising of numerous helicopter trips. The highlight of getting involved in this project was…? Seeing this amazing place…it’s captivating! The hardest thing about filming Lybalakh was… doing it all by myself with a tripod, even interviews.  The fishing was challenging, but rewarding at the same time. Three days of casting with not a single fish was common. Lybalakh will be premiering at the Fly Fishing Film Tour South Africa. Visit www.f3tsa.co.za for more information on tickets, dates and the rest of the line-up.

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THE MOTHERLODE

Big the e Catch Fly xc ar of G. lusive sto e Loom ckists is fly The g r G.Lo uide’s ch ods. omis oice, is guide legen Arn da go-to o Matthe ry e’s brand for the s alt.

RODS, REELS, FLIES, FLY TYING MATERIAL AND ALL THE OTHER TACKLE YOU COULD NEED – BIG CATCH FLY HAS IT ALL! Need to gear up? Whether it’s a local DIY trip or getting kitted for an overseas trip, speak to Big Catch Fly to get the best gear in the business. A store within a store, Big Catch Fly sits within Big Catch, the Western Cape’s premier fishing store. Bringing over 20 years’ experience in fishing into fly fishing, Big Catch now stocks a huge selection of the best gear available.

From renowned G. Loomis rods (including the Asquith, NRX, Crosscurrent GLX and AMX Pro ranges), Cortland lines, Gamakatsu hooks, Flyzinc flies and many more premium brands, Big Catch Fly is your one stop shop for fly fishing and fly tying. Visit us at 60 Section Street Paarden Eiland, Cape Town and get kitted now. +27 (0)21 511 1914

www.bigcatch.co.za

Stockists of: Cortland Lines, Costa sunglasses, Flyzinc flies, Varivas leader material and a whole lot more.


MUNCHIES

KFC – KIMBERLEY FRIED CATFISH E L E VAT E T H E M U C H M A L I G N E D C AT F I S H F R O M A H A R D - F I G H T I N G , MUD-SUCKING LURKER, TO THE KIND OF BAR SNACK YOUR FRIENDS FIGHT OVER WITH THIS RECIPE FROM CHEF DANIEL WILLIAMS OF T H E O C C I D E N TA L I N K I M B E R L E Y. Photo: Martin Kotze “Die Swart Kat Productions”

A water column or two below the yellows you’ll find the moustachioed bogeyman of freshwater - the sharptooth catfish, which can be found naturally from the Orange River northward through Africa, right up to the Nile as well as southward as alien invaders. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, catfish, when done right, are great eating (so great, they’re grown in aquaculture schemes). For this issue’s Munchies Williams has rustled up some Southern Fried Catfish for us. Amen sistah! The Fish – Sharptooth catfish

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apital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley is known for a few things - the Groot Gat (aka The Big Hole); the mighty Wildeklawer Griquas; as a destination of diamonds and dreams and as a launch pad to the Riet, Orange and Vaal Rivers where there’s incredible yellowfish fishing to be had. It’s also got some cracking bars, one of which is The Occidental (aka The Ox) steered by chef/owner Daniel Williams. When he’s not dishing up phenomenal pub grub from burgers and curries to fish and chips, you’ll find Williams stalking yellowfish, usually on the Riet.

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Daniel says, “When I go fly fishing, I rarely target barbel but when I do I almost always take one home for the pot. Because I primarily fish rivers I normally catch Sharptooth catfish by simply casting big black flies to fish feeding on the surface. A good few plops of your fly in the same spot cause the fish to go into a bit of a frenzy and I‘ll leave the last cast to sink slowly, keeping good contact with the fly. Barbel are strong fish and can be dirty fighters so I don’t play with light tackle when targeting these buggers. “What I like about them when it comes to cooking is  most definitely the texture. Barbel, like most other species of edible catfish, have a firm white flesh which is easy to fillet and once filleted is void of all  the little bones you would normally find in

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most of our other fresh water species. The down side (and I have tested and confirmed the rumour) is that fresh catfish has a muddy taste. I was, however, determined to find a way past this and used common culinary tricks to overcome this problem. The solution is to soak the fillets for at least four hours (preferably overnight) in either milk or buttermilk, just as you would with livers or kidneys to help remove those ‘off’ flavours. Once this process is complete you can use the catfish as you would any other fleshy white fish and it lends itself well to strong-flavoured dishes like Thai yellow catfish curry or Cajungrilled catfish.”

“I RARELY TARGET BARBEL BUT WHEN I DO I ALMOST ALWAYS TAKE ONE HOME FOR THE POT. BECAUSE I PRIMARILY FISH RIVERS I NORMALLY CATCH SHARPTOOTH CATFISH”


THE RECIPE Williams says, “The recipe I have done for The Mission is a lekker crispy southern fried catfish which is super easy to make. No catfish? You can substitute just about any other fish or other meat you want ie: chicken strips, chicken wings, beef strips, pork strips, rabbit etc…” • 1kg sharptooth cat fish fillets cut into cubes Buttermilk marinade 500ml buttermilk/maas 1 tbsp paprika 1 tbsp garlic salt ½ tsp cayenne pepper  1 tsp crushed black pepper Seasoned flour 2 cups all-purpose flour 3 tbsp Cajun spice 1 tbsp garlic powder 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs  ½ tsp smoked paprika  Oil for deep frying Fresh lemon and BBQ sauce to serve   Method:  • Mix all the ingredients for the buttermilk marinade together in a glass or plastic (not steel) bowl, place the catfish cubes in this mixture, cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.  The marinading is crucial in removing the muddy flavour generally associated with sharptooth catfish. • Mix your seasoned flour ingredients together, gently remove marinated catfish from the buttermilk being careful not to scrape off the marinade and drop cubes into the seasoned flour. • Coat the pieces well and then deep fry in hot oil (180 deg C) till golden and crispy and cooked inside (normally just a few minutes depending on the size of your cubes) • Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot with fresh lemon and BBQ sauce. • I enjoy my KFC with a nice dark lager like our local 28 Deg South premium dark lager (small batch home brew available at the Occidental), but the spiciness of the catfish will stand up well to your favourite amber ale, IPA or a robust white wine.

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OF DESTINATIONS AND DOUCHEBAGS G U I D E M AT T G O R L E I O F F LY B R U W E I G H S I N O N A C E R TA I N T Y P E O F A N G L E R , M O R E O B S E S S E D W I T H D E S T I N AT I O N N A M E D R O P P I N G , F I S H N U M B E R S A N D S I Z E T H A N W I T H T H E A C T U A L F I S H I N G I T S E L F. Photo Matt Gorlei

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n world travel, there’s competition. People who proclaim loudly that “I’ve done Macchu Piccu, Victoria Falls or Everest Base Camp.” In fly fishing, you get similar types. They plop recent visits to Kamchatka or Cosmoledo into conversation just as you would present a bass bug – with emphasis. I have worked as a guide in two extremely well known fly fishing lodges in southern Patagonia, places that are on the bucket list for most fly anglers. From the freshest newbies to grizzled veterans, wide-eyed wonderers and enthusiastic sloggers, I have encountered many different types of clients at these lodges. There is only one type that truly gets on my nerves; those who, before you have even asked, will namedrop within the first five minutes of conversation, the other world class fisheries they have been to and compare their experiences there to where they are right now. Normally, I’m interested in any conversation about fly fishing destinations as any professional fly fishing guide would be, but when it’s brought up just so you can underline how well travelled you are, you can go fly a kite. I’m not suggesting that everyone who travels around the world to experience the best fishing on the planet is a selfimportant tonsil. If you have a passion and a love of fly fishing and travel,

I admire that. I have met plenty of incredible people with amazing stories about the places and the fishing they have been lucky enough to experience. It’s the ‘tick box’ anglers that get to me. Those who fish here, there and everywhere simply because everyone else is doing it, not because it’s been a place they have dreamed about or a fish that has been on the top of a hit list for a long time. A prime example was a recent client who went fishing in the Bolivian jungle for Golden Dorado. When I met him, he proceeded to list all the ways he hated the experience from the humidity to the insects. Standing there in my waders in a cold Patagonian river while he moaned about an equally special place, I could not unearth anything to legitimise his gripe. For the love of God, common sense dictates that if you cannot stand humidity and insects, you do not go to an equatorial destination! Perhaps my biggest problem with the ‘destination anglers’ is the fact that they have the highest and most unrealistic expectations of all. They will be the first to point to the brochure which says there is an abundance of 20lb fish to be caught and then proceed to ask, “Why am I not catching a 20 pounder? In my experience, quite often ‘destination anglers,’ are new to fly fishing and have not yet done the hard yards. If you travel all over the globe to all sorts of world class fisheries without ever having struggled on a backyard water,

whether it’s a trout stream, bass pond, carp toilet, whatever – you will struggle to truly appreciate the fishing. There are a few things that your backyard water teaches you about fishing: you have good days and bad days out; conditions make a difference; fish are an element of nature; nature is unpredictable at times and it’s very seldom that you’ll have good fishing every time you go out. So, when you arrive at a lodge for a week’s fishing and the conditions are tricky and the fish may not have read the brochure that week, don’t complain and tell your helpless guide (who is doing as much as he can with your limited skill set) to A) get you into a fish or that B) this lodge is over-priced for the quality of fishing. Don’t be so blind. You are fishing, so enjoy the experience. Even if you’re not catching fish hand over fist, you are still lucky enough to be fishing a world class fishery. I understand that we all fish for different reasons, but when you’re so focused on your absurd goal to catch as many fish as quickly as possible to be able to have some bragging rights around the lodge, you tend to forget to look up, down and around you. Focus on the enjoyment of the fishing rather than the enjoyment of being able to say you’ve been to more places than others. Do that and not only will you enjoy every aspect of your fishing more, but I wager the fish will also come.

“IF YOU TRAVEL ALL OVER THE GLOBE TO ALL SORTS OF WORLD CLASS FISHERIES WITHOUT EVER HAVING STRUGGLED ON A BACKYARD WATER, WHETHER IT’S A TROUT STREAM, BASS POND, CARP TOILET, WHATEVER – YOU WILL STRUGGLE TO TRULY APPRECIATE THE FISHING.” 74

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FLUFF

BEETLEMANIA K A R O O F LY F I S H I N G G U R U A L A N H O B S O N O F T H E ANTELOPE IN SOMERSET EAST HAS MADE A NICHE H I M S E L F W I T H H I S B E E T L E PAT T E R N S . H E S P E A K S T O A B O U T H I S PAT T E R N S , H I S P R O C E S S A N D T H E P R I Z E OF THE LINE.

How would you describe your approach to fly tying? I am a self-taught fly tier, with a practical mind. For me, who cares how it is done as long as the fly does the job in the water and fulfils the image in your head that can translate to a tying vice? That, for me, is the trick. Observe, observe, observe, then sketch something to get the cogs of the brain ticking over. My stick drawings are reminiscent of my son’s grade 5 projects, not important as long as you can execute those images into looking like the real thing. In my fly fishing journey, it is how you catch the fish and the unquenchable thirst to fool the fish that drives me to keep creating patterns, sharing them and the satisfaction that they work being “the drug”. When developing your beetles, did you borrow ideas and create them with the input of others? Let us talk about snails and aquatic water beetles, as the modus operandi for tying them is the same. The internet and social media definitely do help to see how fellow tiers execute patterns. Having said that, the biggest game changer for me was Dr Hans van Zyl with his “Good Doctor’s Beetle” and the process of how he made it. Using foam to shape the desired body, acrylic paints to bring the foam to life and seal skin to seal your creation so that it can float. Fly patterns evolve over years of experimentation, observing, tying,

fishing, tweaking and eventually creating the real thing. My first move in this direction was creating a snail pattern out of desperation, having watched huge fish hone exclusively into mopping them up against the weed beds. This was at Thrift dam, in the Winterberg, in the Eastern

“ABOUT 30 % OF AQUATIC FOOD IS MADE UP OF OVER 400 000 WATER BEETLE SPECIES, SO THE QUESTION IS, WHY ARE YOU NOT FISHING BEETLE PATTERNS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU BELIEVE IN MATCHING THE HATCH?” Cape, where the wind always seems to blow, almost to the point where you cannot see the activity of fish feeding as the waves are too big. The secret is to fish the wind, specifically into it. Try and convince fly fisherman, who are hung up about Photo Knut Otto

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ANGLER & NAME FOR THE MISSION AT T H E E N D

their casting, that this is where they should be fishing, into the teeth of a gale force wind, ja right! This is where I saw the action unfold. I started off with a Cochy Bundu, with great success, then identified the need for a snail that floats in crashing waves. The frustration of having to continually change “dry” flies that only hold their own for a short while in windy conditions led to the search for something that could float… properly, thanks to the good Doctor. The success of Hans’s tying process revolutionised my approach to creating flies that floats. The snail pattern led to the creation of several aquatic water beetles. Again, observing the stomach contents of fish over many years revealed that there are always water beetles of different shapes, colours and sizes prevalent, all year round. About 30 % of aquatic food is made up of over 400 000 water beetle species, so the question is, why are you not fishing beetle patterns, especially if you believe in matching the hatch? I have not seen many of these type of fly patterns around anywhere. My range of aquatic beetles just keeps on growing as I see more and more of them AND they catch fish.  I must also tell you that part of the development of these patterns, came about as a result of my frustrations on the water. E.g. Having a dry fly that floats, for some length of time. Having a dry fly that you


can fish a while hanging a dropper. Having a dry fly that makes a great indicator. Most importantly, having a dry fly that should it move, does not spook fish. Here is the mind blowing thing - most dry flies are imitating terrestrials and boy have I had my days of fish refusing the fly, because of drag on a drag free drift in the river or poor leader control when trying to mend your line. Fish seem to be sceptical of terrestrials. Aquatic beetles live in the water with the fish, not swimming around saying “eat me, eat me”, but living and surviving with the fish. The dead give-away for the fish is that all aquatic beetles need oxygen to survive, hence they come up to the surface to breathe, so movement of the water beetle patterns create no suspicion and often triggers a take. That means stripping them is necessary. Were these patterns designed specifically for Karoo trout? Yellows? As a general purpose pattern? I have developed these patterns here in the Eastern Cape and the Karoo over the last fifteen years and the journey has just started. These are very definitely imitative patterns, in fact some accuse me of being anal on being too realistic, but hey it is fun! The only problem is these patterns take a long time to make, not because they are difficult but because they take time. It is a process. First cut the foam to the shape and size you desire, then superglue it to the hook, paint the foam with acrylic paint and then seal it with seal skin. These wonder materials are available

the bottom of the body and simply glue on new legs and touch up the body with a permanent marker.

my flies as gifts for their friends and relatives, so my flies are now in every corner of the globe. These flies have caught Salmon in Alaska and British Columbia, browns in New Zealand, native cut throats in California, the list is growing fast. The satisfaction of their success is what fuels my desire to keep on developing the range of aquatic water beetles, reinforced by what I see on my fly fishing travels. Locally, I have found these patterns to be equally successful for Yellows. Instead of fishing a strike indicator I use my dropper snail, predacious diving beetle, back swimmer, riffle beetle, long toe beetle or scavenger beetle as the indicator and hang a dropper off it, allowing them to swim through the rapids. Sterkfontein dam dictates often that one should use a dry dropper combo and on a recent trip I caught yellows on literally every one of my water beetle patterns. Granted, some were more successful than others but they ALL worked. The beauty about these designs is that you can fish them much like one would fish a booby, sinking these floating patterns with a weighted nymph, allowing them to hover just above the weed down deep. When you strip them they dart down into the weed and float out of it, looking super realistic.

Where else have these patterns caught fish for you? These patterns work, throughout the world, for all sorts of species. Owning a guesthouse with a fly shop and a whisky bar filled with fishing regalia results in conversations about fly fishing if they are not already coerced into it by me. Guests buy

For trophy trout and yellowfish as well as a range of other species, in picturesque rivers and dams in some spectacular countrysi de, check out www.wildflyfishinginthekaroo.co.za and be sure to stay at The Angler & Antelope (anglerandantelope.co.za) for both the fishing and the whisky collection.

from scrap booking shops. The trick is to allow at least six hours for each process to dry, otherwise the stuff peels off. If you have fourteen steps, like my back swimmer beetle imitation then the process takes four days to tie the fly. The good news is that the investment in time is in creating the body. If the legs break off (they are usually Ostrich or knotted Peacock herl), steal your partners Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails clear nail varnish, brush

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THE LIFER

THE VETERAN FROM MOZAMBIQUE TO GABON, THE RED SEA AND THE ORANGE RIVER, LONG-TIME GUIDE GUY FERGUSON HAS FISHED HARD HIS W H O L E L I F E . H E C H AT S T O T H E M I S S I O N A B O U T T O P W AT E R B A S S ACTION, SMALLMOUTH YELLOWS ON STREAMERS AND THE SIMPLE S AT I S FA C T I O N O F A W E L L - T R A I N E D D O G . The first fish I ever remember catching were glassies (part of the Ambassidae family) in the Mahlongwana river which is just south of Umkomaas on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Craig Thomassen and I would cut our prized dipsticks out of bamboo and use small pieces of white bread to catch them. My first job was an infantryman working for the government, then I was a guide whitewater rafting around the world from Switzerland to France, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand and Zimbabwe/Zambia. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fishing properly in those days. Then, I became a fishing, hunting and canoe guide. I also dabble in different African artifacts. I bring in things I find interesting - Mozambican natural wooden water barrels, ebony carvings, mokoros - and sell them to the industry.. I grew up in Umkomaas in KwaZulu Natal. Then I spent seven seasons as a river guide on the Zambezi during which time I called Vic Falls my home. After that I lived on Bazaruto Archipelago for 15 to 17 years before I moved to Stanford in the Western Cape. I was quite burnt out after Mozambique. The rise in popularity of the Seychelles as a fishing destination, changed the saltwater fly fishing in Mozambique. In the early days, when we started, it was amazing. Everyone came to Bazaruto with a fly rod and there wasn’t a lot of pressure on the sea with the locals. Now people don’t really go there to fly fish anymore. It’s more of a honeymoon destination.

When I’m guiding abroad I’m usually in Gabon or the Red Sea. In Gabon we are up as early as 3:30am. We fish till 9am, rest and prep tackle in the heat of the day, then head off to the river mouth in the early afternoon and fish, sometimes till midnight. On the Red Sea we either walk the flats with a fly rod or drift the reefs with heavy popping gear. A typical day in South Africa is spent in Stanford in the Overberg. I normally start with an early walk/ training session with my two German Shorthair pointers, Bobby and Ace. I will then pop into our antique shop, Tat, and shift or deliver some furniture. I try to end the day with some sort of outdoor activity either hitting the beach for a kite or surf or targeting bass on my kick boat with a bass bug. Mike Dolhof introduced me to topwater bass fishing. I hadn’t done it a lot but now I am addicted to it. I go from half past six to half past eight in the summer. I hardly fish underwater anymore. I have stood on the banks of the Breede and cast for Kob with a sinking line, but after doing it for an hour I give up. My passion now is for top-water fishing. Stanford’s a quiet little country village two hours out of Cape Town. I love it because there are lots of outdoor activities. It’s also close to one of my favourite fishing spots, the Breede River. I have lots of mates who own farms in the area. And obviously we have the little shop there. I don’t think it’s possible to master the skill of catching grunter but I would like to improve at it. It’s a new species for me. Photos Richard Morton

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I am most proud of my two hunting dogs when they perform well in the field, as lots of time and dedication is spent training them. There is nothing better than seeing them steady on point, bodies quivering with excitement and a covey of francolin take off in front of their noses. My water-sports have come naturally to me. Surfing, barefoot waterskiing, whitewater kayaking and kitesurfing have all been passions of mine and I found that I learnt the basics very quickly. But my fishing and hunting skills have required a lot more work, whether it is shooting a straight arrow with my bow, following through the bird on the wing or casting that fly on the money. My go to drink is Jameson Whiskey, ice and soda. The best advice I have ever been given is ‘Don’t look directly into the sun’. One skill to get right is knowing how to choose the right fly, to match the hatch. If you are throwing the right fly, you are going to go tight. If you’re not throwing the right fly, you are going to be watching live ESPN as the guy next to you catches all the fish. Something I have changed my mind about is targeting smallmouth yellows. I used to nymph for them, catching all the rats and mice. Now, I cast big streamers upstream for them. It’s just insane. They are extremely aggressive and strong. Who needs to travel to Bolivia? 


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"Facelifts in the Northern Cape don't always go according to plan.

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It’s appropriate to lie if you’ve had an epic session and you want to have it to yourself again the following day. Whereas most fishermen are the exact opposite, blurting about fishing spots because of their need to show off, I lie about not catching anything. It’s something I do quite a lot - because these days you get inundated with fishermen everywhere. There are still a lot more destinations I want to discover and fish, like the Amazon, and I want to surf Indonesia. I’ve been to so many fishing destinations but I haven’t been to surfing destinations. In my later years I would really love to go back to New Zealand and target those big South Island browns and, most definitely, give those yellowtail (kingies) a go on the flats. One place, never again? SAI - Five South African Infantry Basics Training, Ladysmith. Three months of pain, crap food, running and no sleep.

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There’s definitely an end point to guiding and I’ve almost reached it, but I will always appreciate being guided myself. It’s an amazing thing to be guided by someone who knows more than you. I could still keep guiding, but I have different interests now, like fishing for myself. It’s not a full-time job anymore. I probably guide six trips a year now. Some of my old fishing clients have become my friends so I enjoy going with them. For me, the best thing about fly fishing, especially in the old days in Mozambique, is the take. I love that solid feeling at the end of your fly line. Strip, strip, strip and you go tight, whether it’s a dry fly or a Clouser at 30 m, the take is always insane. If I could change one thing in fly fishing, it would be some of the price tags on some of these amazing destinations. It would be great to be able to afford them as a South African or as an ex-guide.

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

Looking back, I don’t think there is anything I would do differently. I’ve been very fortunate to have done what I love my whole life. And I had the support of my parents. If anything, I wish I had thought a little bit more about financial planning during my guiding career, bought more properties so I could be a bit richer. I’m doing it now. I’ve always done what I wanted to do my whole life but, at the time, all I wanted was to go fishing, surfing and have a beer.

THE LAST FISH I CAUGHT WAS A LARGEMOUTH BASS ON A POPPER, BUT MY LAST PROPER FISH WAS MY PERSONAL BEST JACK CREVALLE IN GABON A FEW WEEKS AGO.


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The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine Issue #9  
The Mission Fly Fishing Magazine Issue #9