Yesterday, on route to my hallowed home waters of the Garden Route, I stopped in at one of the WTA (a local trooting club) waters that I had yet to fish. I had been told that the water was crystal and the fish were big. I excited and ready to stalk some cruising Rainbows in the shallows.
The plan was to fish late and then duck up to good friends Ryan and Jen Weaver for the night. The Weavers, whose friendship stems from Ryan and my mutual fishing infatuation, have the privilege of living on one of the most beautiful farms in the country. It’s a secluded valley with limited access and a classic Cape freestone small stream running its length.
It’s cold this time of year but I love walking up here – I don’t close the curtains in the spare room because the morning view is simply spectacular!
But I digress. Leaving Cape Town, I made a quick turn at Upstream Fly Fishing to grab a quick coffee with Rich and John (and get a few tying materials) before heading East towards home. The weather seemed great on the seaward side of the Limietberg and I was super excited about the potential of the new water.
However, my excitement was soon horribly dampened. The recent rains had filled the dam above its average levels and the humping wind – which wasn’t blowing town side – had churned up the fine silt on the high edges of the dam.
It is amazing how one’s attitude changes when expectations are not met. It doesn’t help that I have been spoilt in terms of fishing either. My preparations became uncharacteristically slow and a little lethargic. The coffee took a lot longer to make and I couldn’t resist a second with a few extra rusks. Eventually I strung up #5 with a sink tip and searching pattern and went managing the wind.
I’d love to say that I was pleasantly surprised and the fish, despite conditions, came willingly. Not so. I fished for a good two hours, although not that hard, for no rewards. A cup of coffee was sounding great but I opted instead to pack up and head for the Weavers fireplace.
The drive home had me thinking about how the attitude with which I approach any water so often determines how the day goes. Having played competitive sport my whole life, I am acutely aware of the damage that a less than motivated attitude can have on performance – just look at how difficult it was for the big teams with early loses to bounce back this year’s FIFA World Cup. But for fly fishing?
My old man has always believed in the confidence with which you fish a particular pattern will make a difference, and consequently I hold the same belief. But general attitude?
It must be true though. Thinking back, many of the very best days of fishing have been coupled with an excited, expectant and happy attitude. Yet, the same waters have produced poorly when I been less than stoked to be on the water. And often other chaps have caught a whole lot when in I caught nothing.
Now I don’t think the fish can sense what I’m thinking. But if your mind is not into it, you immediately don’t cast as crisply, pay attention to your retrieve or even check your knots properly. You don’t pay attention to your surrounding or the water and end up missing important signs about where the fish might be or what they are up to.
But so it was, I packed up my rod and gear and drove off feeling a little skunked. I know I didn’t fish properly. I know I could have fished more intently and for longer. But I wasn’t enjoying it, so I buggered off.
To a warm home and Jen’s friendly face that put me work on her new Green Fish Boxes. I got to vacuum pack beautiful trout fillets, help write up her intro page and share the excitement of a new venture. We then drank red wine, ate ourselves full and told stories. Ryan even bought Foo Fighters tickets after a plan was hatched! It was an awesome day!
Sometimes it’s not the fishing itself that makes a day but the things that go with it.