We all have that one stream that we somehow don’t ever get to fish.
I’m not talking about a river in some far-flung destination either. I’m talking about that right on your doorstep piece of water that you could easily dip your shins into on any other Sunday.
You know the one. It the one that we talk about over beer or coffee in pubs and tackle shops. We unashamedly and mercilessly probe those who have fished it for information on its finer points until we start to form an almost photographic mental picture of it. We shake our heads determinedly and commit ourselves to getting there “before the season is out” or “definitely next season” – we just never seem to get to actually casting a fly up it.
My such water is a stretch of the Mooi called Reekie Lynn.
Now it may come as a surprise but unlike some other “I’m definitely getting up there next season” rivers I’ve actually been there and stood on its banks many times. Circumstances have simply dictated that I’ve just never been able to actually fish it.
One or more of the eyebrows on one or more of the faces on one or more of the members of the Natal Fly Fishing Club (under whose control it falls) will have immediately knotted, unknotted, raised and knotted again on reading and understanding the implications of my recent statement.
“Hold the bus”, they’ll ask, “what, exactly, do you mean by “many times“?”. [How, exactly, do I punctuate that?]
Yes, yes, I’ve been a member of the club for only a few months and have booked it only three times over that period. “Three isn’t ‘many‘”, they’ll be thinking, and I would be the last person to argue with their logic.
They’re a fine bunch of lads, those fellows from the club, and as friends I’ve come to value them highly. The trouble is that as a direct result of narrow social conditioning their pondering the definition of ‘many‘, insofar as it relates to my visitation of ‘their‘ waters is far too myopic.
What they should be thinking is that it’s about time to put a substantially better lock on that gate.
Steady on now lads, steady on. Remember that other bit of social conditioning imploring you to “forgive those who who trespass against us”.
In fairness to them, they did make the mistake of erecting a sign on the gate. I just love the signs that people hang on fences. They are rich with hidden meaning and subliminal messaging.
In the interest of further adult education let me decode some of these messages for you.
- Private waters – no fishing : There’s some primo fishing to be had if you jump the fence.
- Club members only : There’s some primo fishing to be had if you jump the fence.
- No fishing without valid permit : There’s some primo fishing to be had if you jump the fence.
- BY ORDER : Jump the fence. I fucking dare you.
That very barely subliminal dare contained in the phrase ‘by order’ is my all-time favorite. Ever met an angler who wasn’t up for a dare? Me neither. How have you ever seen “you’ll never drink that” play out?
Signs are a complete waste of time. In fact, they’re worse than a waste of time. You couldn’t do better if you actually advertised the beat by having illuminated directional signage for five kilometers leading up to it.
It’s all basic psychology and is evidenced in all of human nature. If you advertised tackle by saying “this rod is way too good for someone like you” at least three of your competitors would go out of business in a week. You think I’m talking nonsense? Ok. Make a sign that reads “wet paint”. Stand back and watch.
Many years ago myself and a friend were bobbing behind the breakers at Second Beach, Port Saint Johns in between sets. Henry turns to me and says “we should have a throw later – this time last year in these exact conditions I caught a beast of black-tip right here in this spot.”
Anyhow, a few minutes later we were back on the beach and an entirely topless and exquisitely endowed Dutch tourist came over to ask if we could break a twenty so that she could by a trinket from a friendly vendor. (By trinket I mean Lusiki Poison – have you never been to Port Saint Johns?)
So I’m reclining in the sand with my towel over my lap and she’s leaning over Henry in a kind of pendulous way and he’s scratching around in his wallet for coins while looking directly at her titties – in exactly the same way as I look at the river beyond your sign.
If the penny hasn’t dropped in all matters signage related by now I’m sorry but I can’t make it any clearer.
I don’t encourage law breaking; let me be unequivocal on that. I just don’t necessarily discourage it. I think that you need to filter these millions of ‘rules’ that supposedly exist (none of them actually do) through your own personal belief system and do what comes naturally to you. When you gate off my birthright I’m going to jump your gate.
You could shoot me for breaking the rules if you wanted to. But I know you aren’t going to shoot me. You see, that’s against the rules. (That slightly dull and disorientated feeling that you’re currently experiencing is nothing to be concerned about. It’s called cognitive dissonance and is hardly ever fatal).
When I get all emotional about it I rely on the words of Jim Morrison who probably summed it up best for me when he sang:
What have they done to the earth,
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
Tied her with fences and dragged her down
I admit, I have no idea how the hell you’d stick a knife into the side of the dawn but (setting the obviously personally uncomfortable reference to plunder aside) the whole “tied her with fences” is a serious matter in my personal philosophy. I don’t necessarily go about untying fences or disregarding signs, but I see them for what they are.
In the interest of moving this thing along let’s just settle on a common understanding that I may have been to this stretch of the river outside of the times recorded on my booking history. All property is theft. What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Let bygones be bygones. Let go or be dragged. Philosophy is a complex thing. Ignorance looks at a distance to be zen. Be zen.
I didn’t intentionally come here today to talk about jurisprudence, philosophy, human behavior, marketing, swinging European breasts, locksmithing, murder or sign writing. I came to tell you about how I came to be a legal holder of a day ticket to fish Reekie Lynn and how it played out.
As I was saying before I drifted off (oh look, a squirrel), I’ve been there many times before.
Twice I sort of had to turn around sort of quickly because there were sort of other people on the water. Five times it more slick and brown than the strip of road just before the bridge at Riverside after the local herd of shit factories masquerading as dairy cattle have dropped their singular brand of fetid waste onto the already somewhat dodgy surface. (Why the hell these things can’t crap in a pasture I can never understand. “Hold it in Ethel, hold it in, we’re almost on the road.“). Twice I’ve been there when the water was so low that the stream bed looked like the excavation of some Neolithic civilization – the long buried rocks of its foundations bared once more to the skies.
I’m trying to say that whenever I’ve been there the water was too high or too low.
I’ve got time to kill.
Bear with me.
to be continued…