Last Saturday I spent a most entertaining morning on the Hotel beat of the Smalblaar. I joined an old British chap, Keith Nicklin and acted as his walking stick!

I’ve fished with Keith before, and I hope I’ll fish with him again. Age has not treated his ankles and knees all that well – 79 is a great innings -, hence me having to play the role of a walking talking wading pole. However, where age has plagued his legs, it has honed his casting arm.

I can only wish my camera wasn’t in for a service. He draws an artist’s stroke with fly rod and the line becomes a dancing living artwork. No matter the pumping upstream wind; he used the #3 like a wand and dropped flies wherever he chose. Dispite the high water and my recommendation to fish a nymph, he said he’d caught enough fish on the nymph and would stick to a dry. He raised four fish and dropped three.

No worries, it really wasn’t about the catching.

What I really love is the amount of times he stopped and simply looked up. He drank in the surrounding vistas – and those of you who fish the Cape Streams will know how maginificent that valley is. He’s said it before and said it again: that this is one of the prettiest places he has ever fished – and this coming from a man who has chased trout and salmon around the globe.

I spent a lot of my morning listening – not because he spoke too much but because of the quality that he spoke. He has a story for so many thoughts and ideas. He also asks measured and pertinent questions – nothing wasted – that forced me to think about how and why I answered. He listened intently to the answers.

And I was reminded of two things.

Firstly, that fly fishing is such a magnificent leveller.

And that you’re never too old (I most certainly have no excuses if he can get on the streams at 79)!

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Creating magic -
Creating magic –
The Magnificent du Toit's Kloof with Smalblaar sliding through it.
The Magnificent du Toit’s Kloof with Smalblaar sliding through it.

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Fred Davis

Fred Davis

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