Rainbow Over The Swartberg
A friend owns a farm in the Swartberg. It’s closer to Lesotho and the old Transkei than anywhere else in SA. It’s a pleasant spot to get away to with family any friends and we try to do just that a few times a year. (He rents accommodation on the farm. It’s a great place. Look for ‘Teddington Adventure Farm’.)
This Easter we went there in the company of my mother, my two brothers and their wives and sundry children, friend’s children, quad bikes, motor cycles, bicycles and countless etceteras.
Day one is always about driving, unpacking, mothers tut-tutting, fueling bikes and generally gearing up for five days away. Being ever wary of my familial duties and not wanting to stray under a downcast eye on day one I did not touch my fly fishing gear. I did, in a moment of divine inspiration, not take it from behind the seat of my truck.
The river that runs through the farm is a pretty one. It is pretty unaffected by the agricultural activity around it this high up. I’ve taken a fish or two from it but not more than that. Every time I’ve been it has been too high or too low to be productive.
In truth I have something of a connection to this river. It is, you see, the Umzimvubu (the home of the hippo). I grew up in the Transkei and spent many happy times on the banks of this river in the town where it meets the ocean, Port Saint Johns. My great, great grandparents are buried a few hundred meters north west of the mouth and I threw my father’s ashes from the edge of a cliff into the ocean some few hundred meters north east of the mouth.
My brother (one of them) was married on the banks of the Umzimvubu and we announced to my parents that we were expecting their first grandchild within a stone’s throw of the mouth.
Several other defining moments in my life happened there, but for decency’s sake I’ll say no more.
When I was a youth my father and I would trade magnificent holidays in the Cape Hermes Hotel overlooking the river mouth for five evenings a week of guitar playing and singing in the pub. Later we bought a small house overlooking Agate Terrace, the long beach north of the mouth. Our friends were the lighthouse keeper, the ichthyologist, the professional ski boat fisherman , various publicans and the odd hippie. But mainly I love this river because it was my father’s spiritual home. His power place. His playground and his Eden.
I make my point about emotional connection to this ribbon of water, yes?
South of the river crossing on the road to Lake Saint Bernard
North of the river crossing on the road to Lake Saint Bernard
Somewhere upstream of the river crossing
The river is in great nick. No obvious pollution, not too much wattle and good wildlife on its banks. I saw spoor of several buck species, otter (hmmm), cats (we saw a jackal quite unexpectedly) and many wild flowers.
Duiker Spoor (I think)
A Flower (nailed that one)
Some Big Spoor (don’t want to know)
Anyhow, afternoon of day one my brother asks me how one gets to the river. “Pile onto the back of my truck and I’ll show you” I tell whoever cared to listen. We made our way the few km to the river to be greeted by almost perfect water flow, clarity and temperature. The local rainbows were rising quite freely. “And here we are. No rods.” Lamented my brother. Not so fast, younger sibling, reach behind the seat of that truck.
In fading light I strung a rod. The leader was a bit stuffed but I tied a small Adams onto in and banged in a cast. Two near misses and then fish on. After a quick fight we landed a fat little rainbow. It’s always nice to get started with a quick fish. It settles the nerves.
Now, I’ve said before that I generally fish alone. My younger brother is a wildly talented saltwater fisherman. My youngest brother doesn’t really do bloodsports. Anyhow, for the first time in 25 years of fly fishing for trout I have photos of me doing it.
I just wish I had more hair and less girth.
Shoot Out A Line
Fish On In Last Light
A Small, Plump Rainbow
Over the course of the weekend we had a lot of fun and I squeezed in some fishing time. I even have photographic proof.
I Took Several Fish From This Spot On Nymph & Dry
Landing A Strong Fish (Does the way I shape my nets make sense now?)
Regrets after this weekend?
- I forgot my regular hat at home. I’m sure this one spooked half the fish off.
- I forgot my wading boots this morning and being too lazy to fetch them I fished barefoot.
- My son wasn’t interested in joining me. It breaks my heart but I’m forcing myself to accept that the gentle art doesn’t compete with motorized entertainment.
Other than that I can tell you that I have not had as fulfilling a time on many, many levels in many, many years.