There’s something about waking up in dark to head out fishing. Launching the boat with nothing but a dim haze over the eastern horizon. The crisp air as it cuts, even in midsummer, through your layers as the boat plains over a mirror of water.
The day is full of potential and all you really want is to stretch a line.
This is how both Saturday and Sunday started. Unfortunately the calm of morning didn’t last on either day!
Friday came, my exams were done and an Honours Degree in the bag; it was time to get into the outdoors and make up for the time spent in the books. JD and George had been down at Infanta for more than a week already working on the Fishing Shack and fishing. It had been slow on the approach to the spring tides but on Friday it turned on. Every text seemed to force my foot a little further into the corner. JD was fishing topwaters and the grunter and kob were eating. But I wasn’t there.
The weather in this part of world habitually kicks up the wind by early afternoon. Friday was no different. By the time I arrived it was blown out and the tide was pulling. So, instead of getting wet, we hit the Shack and invested a bit of time into the future fishing destination.
Braai, beers and some fly tying that night got me feeling stoked. The study monkey was off my back and I was more relaxed than I have been in awhile.
We were up early Saturday morning and the conditions looked good. But it didn’t last. By early morning the clouds had pulled in and sporadic rain squalls put a damper on the spirits. I got cold – my skinny frame wasn’t built for being wet in the wind – and I got a bit bleak. But in gut-check moment I reminded myself that I wasn’t studying or chasing work emails. I was on the water. I was damn happy to be there.
A big Spotted Grunter (50cm plus) on fly has been eluding me for quite a while now and I had decided I was going to put proper time in this weekend. So while JD and George took to the topwaters, I had grabbed my flyrod. The one lesson that needs to be learnt and understood about Grunter fishing on fly is that patience is not an important factor, it is the critical factor.
Wet and shivering I waited. And waited. Patiently, cast after cast. Eventually my first reward was a big swirl under my fly that pulled it right under. ON! No… A short strip strike brought no connection. One visit, no fish. Never-the-less I was bouyed, less cold but still shivering.
About an hour later my fly once again disappeared in a swirl of sucking grunter and this time there was a solid connection. What a treat watching my flyline disappear as my little Predator’s drag applied the pressure. This was a solid fish. I saw backing, about 15m of it, before the fish stopped. Head shakes always make me nervous. And these were solid and deep. I was as nervous about the hook pulling as I was about one of the resident Bull Sharks eating the grunt! Thump thump thump.
That slack feeling in the line seems to course through one’s body, into your fingers and down to your knees. Your shoulders drop and the disappointment of losing a big fish can be tasted by those close by to you.
It was a lot of line to reel in.
I could have very easily thrown it in then. I honestly think the next cast was made only because it was warmer in the water than out! But one cast became another and another. Back at it.
I had been targeting muds and tails all morning. The lack of sun had made it difficult to sight fish despite the crystal clear water. I had two fish swim by without even looking at my fly. Bleh. The cold was getting to me.
And then a tail. Broad. Big fish, off to my right. Then was gone, but I was ready. It tailed again and dropped my prawn right next to its tail as it rooted around in the mud. I was pleased, I had managed to not spook it. I had that Permit fishing feeling!
Twitch. Five ,Four, Three, BAM. The take was surprisingly hard. Could it be a kob? It took off. My Scott was bent and I was smiling. Another nice fish, I couldn’t believe that I was getting another chance. Then those head shakes. But this time the hook held. No sharks. And the fish, after a dogged account of itself and several runs, came to hand.
By far my best grunt on fly. 60 odd cm. Chuffed as nuts!
The rest of the weekend was spent building and fishing. We caught more fish. But on the drive back to Cape Town I mulled over my thoughts. It kept coming but to same old point made time and time by many fishermen;
Persevere and you will catch fish. There is no substitute for time on the water. Its during these hours that you can play with patterns, techniques and ideas. In our fast paced society of instant gratification, going fishing is a damn fine reminder that not everything should be easy!