It was judgment day, Jimmy had a week left in the South before he had to leave on assignment to fight metal off Angola’s coast and it was the last day on which we could hunt together before the fronts came. He got word from the resistance in the West that the uprising had arrived; this time we were ready for them.
Long, slender pelagic terminators with cutting teeth and polished chrome armour (aka snoek) were building up a force against our coastal clupeoids (sardines and anchovies) under the cover of the cold Benguela system. We had been alerted before, but failed to intercept them the last two winters. These creatures move fast and sporadic, making it difficult for us to track them down with our primitive equipment.
Our weapons of choice were 9-10 wt rods and lines coated in heavy metal with large, sharp hooks at the end; like a cowboy swinging a rope to a bull we’d toss them out and dredge deep water in the hopes of hooking the animals swimming underneath us. As bounty hunters would pursue a killer on the loose we left in the dark, our cars brimming with gear and ammo.
When we reached the shore, we could see other assassins in the early morning mist that had gathered for the same reason as us around the narrow entrance to the sea. We watched high in anticipation as they left the steep, rocky shoreline with wooden crafts driven by noisy, smoking machines. In contrast, Jimmy had brought his small grey inflatable and a quiet 4 stroke engine, a stealthy setup that could be used by navy seals to creep up on a target instead.
The chase ensued after launching the two-man watercraft and we joined the flotilla of hunters off shore where they’d expected to find the snoek. Like scavengers ‘sniffing’ out a fresh kill they circled the area; when one was made, they’d swoop in like vultures to pick on the leftovers. Competition was stiff and foul language was used to intimidate those that dared to venture too close to a frenzy of murder. A good kill was precious and earned many of these line fishers a living, raising their offspring to follow in their bloody footsteps. Even we got verbal warnings that had we dared to cross their lines with ours they’d break them off.
Our comparatively flimsy equipment received many patronising stares and a few sympathetic smiles from other hunters. Some even offered us bait, special imported pike from China, and argued that we wouldn’t get a touch on our 9 inch, pink and white synthetics. However, there were times when we were fast into snoek while those bobbing around us didn’t get a bite. This sparked interest in our methods and curious men even motored up to us to inspect our lines and fake ‘bait’.
By the end of a messy day, most fighting and killing the snoek in a boat full of blood, Jimmy turned to me and sighed contently: “Aah finally, we got them Leonard, we got them.” We experienced a successful, eight-hour work day with commercial snoek fisherman; our hands bruised and cut from line and teeth, but the pain outstripped by joy. Our desired goal of catching a snoek on fly was achieved and Jimmy could leave on his three month stint on an oil rig savouring peace of mind.
Hasta la Vista, Jimmy; you are one of the most strenuous protagonists of modern fly fishing concepts and I’m looking forward to tackle up against the next T-1000 when you return.
“The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope.” Sarah Connor, Terminator 2