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Random memories of an angling addict  Rate Topic 
 
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 Posted: Mon Mar 30th, 2020 06:11 am
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Fin-S
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Joined: Mon Nov 26th, 2007
Location: Gordons Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
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Early memories - trout


Judging by the family photos I caught my first trout at the tender age of four years, although contrary to the experiences of my colleagues, I have no recollection of that momentous event.
My memories seem to start at about the same time as I landed the elusive first ever wild brown of over a pound, somewhere in my sixth year. The fish was memorable not only due to its size but more because I was alone and had no one to witness the progression from a lucky laatjie to an accomplished angler. That was probably just as well as the fish had taken a lobworm on a size 10.

Those early days seem to have a particular clarity and freshness in one’s memory even when compared to more recent expeditions. Maybe it was due to the exuberance of youth or the fact that whilst learning certain things they tend to stay fixed in the grey matter a bit longer. Either way the clarity of the water, the smell of freshly mown fields and the quiet humming of streamside insects can be recalled in my memory in the time it takes to close the eyes.
I remember my father patiently explaining where trout are likely to be found, why they would be there and what they would likely be feeding on. He would then disappear upstream and immerse himself in the overhanging brambles and nettles, only to be spotted by the tip of a rod dancing its magical act as yet another fish felt the prick of iron in its jaws. Meanwhile I would have anxiously tackled up, 7ft cane spinning rod, Mitchell 300 reel filled with 6lb line straight through to a #10 with a fresh lobworm impaled on it. This may not seem exactly sporting to those of us who have embraced the long rod, but upstream worming is a delicate skill that requires all of the subtle presentation and depth control that nymphing for yellows requires. Once mastered, it is also rather deadly, and as a result I soon learned to be quick on the strike in order to avoid deep hooking, as well as how to play the fish in order to release it quickly without spoiling the water.

I recall sitting at the lodge after an afternoons fishing when the owner of the fishery, Bob, walked up with his traditional glass of milk (I was to learn later that the Doctor had prescribed it to alleviate some problems caused by a reliance upon Scotland’s finest – which Bob promptly mixed with the milk anyway) and proceeded to mention that flyfishing was the only way in which a gentlemen pursued gamefish.

With this information ingrained upon my young mind, it took little persuasion to get Dad to invest in an 8ft 6 wt Daiwa fibreglass fly rod with a through action, satin black finish and snake eyes whipped with an emerald green thread. I could not afford a fly reel at that time and ended up borrowing an old centre-pin which used to be used for trotting the Hampshire Avon for barbel (the European version) and chub. This was quickly filled with a cheap mill end line from the local auction, attached to the rod and I set forth to practise.
I had set myself a target of the far end of the lawn, and convinced Dad that when I could cast that far, it would be nice to try my new found skills on one of our local stillwaters. (at that time Rockbourne, Damerham and Avington were on all my doorstep).

One cool autumn morning a few weeks later saw us tackling up on the banks of Damerham Trout Lakes, one of the finest such venues at the time.

I had devoured as many books as I could find on the subject of flyfishing, and constantly probed my fathers mind as to what fly, what depth, how fast etc. His answer was always the same, what they are feeding on, where they are and as slow as you can go. Sage advise indeed.
With trembling hands I got everything rigged, tied on a sparsely dressed damsel nymph with a bit of lead in the thorax, straightened the tippet, degreased it to sink better, moistened the fly and promptly lost it in the reeds behind me on my first back cast. Undaunted I repeated the exercise only this time I managed to whip my hat off my head and into the dam. I used this as a good excuse to wet the landing net in preparation of what was surely to come.

After thrashing the water for a while I decided that perhaps the fish were fed up with damsels and I tried a corixa type pattern. Whilst in the process of tying this on, I became aware of a heron like figure just off to my left, standing in the shadows under one of the larger willow trees that encompassed the dam. He uttered a greeting and said that whilst he was waiting for the water to warm up (a euphemism for allowing the fish to settle after my aerial bombardment of them) would I mind if he gave me some tips. He quickly explained more about trout behaviour in Stillwater, feeding routines, patterns to try and concluded by a quick casting lesson. His name was Bill Sibbons and he became probably one of the finest big fish stalkers in history.


As the morning warmed up the fish became more noticeable and it wasn’t long before I had a few follows and then at last, a take. I’m not sure who was more surprised, myself or the trout as I pulled a perfectly tied imitation of his lunch out of his mouth and into the reeds behind me again. I think that trout had my name on it, as no sooner had I extricated the fly from the weeds and plopped it back into the water, the fish swam up and simply opened its mouth and inhaled the fly. I struck and suddenly realised that the through action rod was actually a circular actioned one as the tip came around in a perfect circle and practically touched the butt. As the fish streaked across the dam and sought sanctuary first in the weeds and then, through a series of leaps in the sky, I knew that I had found my nirvana. Later that day he weighed in at three pounds eight ounces and was the first of five. I met up with Dad at the bottom dam which tended to be a bit murkier and was more weed filled. He was also thrilled at my catch and I think he knew then that a life long love affair was about to start. Once back at the lodge and with the congratulations having faded away, it finally dawned on me that Dad didn’t have any fish with him. I smugly asked if he wanted to
take one of mine to show Mom. Instead, with a gleam in his eye he opened the freezer and pulled out a monster of 13lbs 9oz which he had caught earlier. It was larger than all of mine together.

45 years and many trout later the old man still manages to extract more and larger trout than I, even without the advantages of good eyesight, modern tackle and the mobility of youth. I received a note last month with a picture of his latest, 8lbs 10oz, totally wild from a stream that you can jump across in places. He followed this up with another of 7 1/2 just to prove it was no fluke.

Attachment: Sibbons.jpg (Downloaded 134 times)

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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2020 07:07 pm
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Float Fisher
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Joined: Fri Oct 31st, 2008
Location: Pinetown, South Africa
Posts: 250
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Thanks Fin-S, that is an absolutely awesome story,very entertaining. Not often we get to read great stories from times past.

Tight lines
FF

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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2020 09:09 pm
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willem wikkel spies
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Joined: Tue Apr 29th, 2008
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baie dankie mnr!!!!

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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2020 09:36 pm
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Dr halibut hoffman
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Joined: Wed Sep 16th, 2009
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Thanks also..what state are those streams in these days, you have any idea?

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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2020 06:33 am
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Fin-S
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Joined: Mon Nov 26th, 2007
Location: Gordons Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
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Dr. HH, the bigger, more well known streams and tributaries are still pretty good. They are mostly privately managed but you can fish some of them for the similar cost as a kidney!

Sadly the smaller more remote ones suffer from water abstraction, pollution, livestock encroachment and are over-run with coarse fish.

I visited last year on a consultation and the stream I used to fish almost daily at one stage was just a trickle with one fish where there used to be hundreds. Baie sad.
:cry1

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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2020 07:11 am
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Fin-S
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Joined: Mon Nov 26th, 2007
Location: Gordons Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 1469
Equipment: Tackle tart
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EARLY MEMORIES IN THE SALT

In January of 1976 our family relocated to the island of Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. In those days, the Gulf was very different to the cosmopolitan region that it has now become. There were very few expats, even fewer bars and very little to do in one’s spare time, with the exception of fishing.

Our first forays were limited to the shore, but due to shallow water of about a metre in depth extending up to a kilometre offshore, this was often unproductive.
There were a few spots where one could comfortably wade to the edge of a drop off and fish the deeper water, but after having been broken off by something rather big that stripped off 300 metres of line on its first run, and that picked up the bait literally 5 metres from where I was standing, I decided that a boat was the preferred option. (later exploration gave prudence to that idea, as we continuously picked up large sharks that cruised these channels).

A rather antiquated wooden vessel of 5 metres was duly purchased, and combined with a 40hp motor, was able to muster up the enviable top speed of 7 knots. Over the next few years, the boat became heavily modified and received such options as an 25hp auxiliary, sun canopy (actually a beach umbrella), a sail on a mobile mast which fitted into a rod holder, and three pieces of 4 inch timber on the hull to protect her from accidental collisions with various reef outcrops.

In those days electronics were in their infancy and our fishfinder consisted of sending down a few baits and waiting 10 minutes, no bite = move on. We soon realised that the problem was not to catch fish, but rather how to entice the larger more desirable species instead of the plethora of sharks and rays.

The inshore gamefish season commenced in about April when the start of the summer winds increased the water temperature up to the late teens. The early visitors were predominantly queenfish with the odd king mackerel, GT and hamour (grouper) thrown in for variation. To say that these fish were easy would not be doing them justice. Sure, there were times when a 50 queenies a day were common, but there were just as many when a plague of sharks would follow the boat with their fins out of the water just waiting for a bait to be tossed overboard. At times like this it was understandable that there were no other fish around!

Nevertheless we persevered and within a few years had about a dozen spots memorised where one could almost guarantee hectic action. It was about this stage that we first attempted fly fishing for these fish although as can be imagined the learning curve was steep and tackle practically non-existent. In fact my first saltwater outfit consisted of an 8 wt, 10ft English reservoir rod, that when cut down to 8’6” became a formidable weapon. This was mated to half a double taper salmon line looped to 300m of 30lb backing. The whole lot was wound onto a Scarborough and a few home tied silver jobbies completed the kit.

This was to serve me well for the next few years and the rod handled queenies, cuda up to 18kgs, plenty of GT's and a number of sharks, the largest a white tipped reef of about 75kgs that took just over 2 hours to get to the boat.

Being the proverbial hunter at heart meant that one was always exploring new reefs and drop-offs with the hope of discovering new challenges, and it was not too long before we hit pay dirt. Trolling back to base in the late summer of ’81, we had a strike on a Rapala but due to some lousy knots lost the fish on the first run. I promptly re-rigged another lure on a heavier rod and commenced back tracking. No sooner had the boat travelled 20 metres when the lure was taken and line streamed off the reel. It was one of those moments when time stands still and I shall never forget the sight of that first sailie as it leapt for freedom and was perfectly silhouetted against the setting sun. The fish was not huge but in my eyes it took on gigantic proportions as it fought tooth and nail to shed itself of its tether. Having never fought a billfish before I committed numerous mistakes that would have made a more experienced angler shake his head in angst, but fortune was smiling that day and 10 minutes later I experienced another highlight when the fish was successfully released, something that I had always set my heart on doing.

With this success behind us, we regularly embarked on trips purely for sailfish but it was not until the next summer that things started to come together, coinciding incidentally with the installation of our first echo sounder. Once we could identify the bottom structure and work the currents we knew that we were in the right place and that it was just a matter of time before our earlier success was repeated. Our notes show that in the summer of 1982 on 18 trips we had 57 strikes, 24 hook-ups and successfully released 16 fish, with our best day accounting for 4 fish.

Due to unforeseen problems with the boat, schooling schedules and the advent of females into my social life, the fishing was severely curtailed for the next couple of years, and it was not until 1985 that we were able to replicate our trips.
With better knowledge and tackle we set out to do battle but for some reason the fish were not there. Whether it was an early El Nino or something else, I don’t know but the ocean was a desert with not even the standard queenfish present.

We covered the water that summer for hours at a time with nothing to show but a healthy tan. With the start of school just a week away I took out the boat alone for what was to be the last trip of the season. After a 2 hour run, I put in two lines, one with a blue Rapala and the other with a hand carved plug that I had whittled earlier in the summer. Both lines were running true as I covered the normal area, but as had happened earlier in the season, nothing disturbed the shimmering haze of the water.

Upon turning for home I started the auxiliary, which increased the top end to about 8.5 knots and cracked the first frostie in recognition that the fish had won this round. But as so often happens, when you least expect it the silence is shattered by the scream of the ratchet howling its protest as the line peels from the reel.
I was using a Senator 6/0 fully spooled with 24kg line and by the time I had control of the boat and started to follow the fish, had already lost a good 300 metres. The fish had taken the hand made plug, which was stiff-rigged with a single 12/0, and I figured that it must be pretty well hooked to have stayed on thus far. As fast as I was going I was making no impression on the fish whatsoever, and it was still stripping line.

Thoughts began to cross my mind that this was no sailie and that a shark would have stopped by now. Just then the fish half rose out of the water, not really a jump as it looked too big to clear the water, and clearly showed itself as a marlin and a huge one at that. Now my predicament began to sink in, alone on a small boat, 15 miles out to sea, and with the fish of a lifetime on the end of hopelessly inadequate tackle. I had read about the experts pressuring fish, but no matter what I tried the fish continued inexorably on its way with me making very little impact. As the spool started to show through the decreasing coils of line I had to make a quick decision and felt sick at the thought of the great fish breaking free but towing heaps of line behind it. I tightened the drag to the max, took a double wrap and swung the boat through 180 degrees, my intention being to pop the line as close to the fish as possible. Time seemed to stand still, the boat appeared to be making no headway, the line was stretching to breaking point, I could feel the line cut through the gloves and then into skin, but still nothing gave. I couldn’t hang on much longer and decided to put everything into a last effort. I allowed myself to be dragged to the transom and then literally ran up to the cabin with the line over my shoulder. I made it halfway and then the line snapped catapulting me against the cabin and breaking my nose in the process. I then started the laborious process of winding in line and was delighted to feel something on the end. 500 metres later and I pulled the plug, without the hook, from the water.

Isn’t it strange how the manner in which you lose a fish can make you happy, but I guess that is what differentiates the true sportsman from the others.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2020 07:44 am
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DJP
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Brilliant reading, thanks for sharing!

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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2020 08:09 pm
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Float Fisher
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Location: Pinetown, South Africa
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Another epic memoir, very enjoyable. Thanks again.

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