"ON THE LINE" - EDITORIAL FROM THE FOSAF CHAIR - ILAN LAX
All the best to all of you for 2020! A new decade beckons and with it many opportunities to make a difference in your own manner of choosing. Let's hope we learn some of the lessons from the last decade.
Eish! Its February already and the New Year is well upon us. I've been back at the office coalface and beyond - and my all too brief holiday feels like something from the dark and distant past.
Speaking of my brief break - walking back along the Bushmans River almost a month ago now, I and two other less experienced anglers were taken by surprise when a looming storm, which had seemed quite some distance away in the next valley, suddenly broke overhead with a vicious flash of lightning instantly followed by a huge clap/rumble of thunder. I quickly shouted over to the other anglers nearby to stop casting and lower their rods and also to keep as a low a profile as possible. The lightening continued for a short while as we hunkered down, as low the ground as we could. I thought the storm might pass quickly but it soon became clear that the rain Gods had other ideas.
I suggested that we better beat a steady retreat back to the cottage and get some dry clothes. While I was thinking about warm drink, as if being soaked to the bone wasn't enough, it started hailing and the stones though not dangerously large were big enough to sting - thank goodness for a sturdy hat! The steady retreat became a hastier one albeit with a somewhat slip-sliding passage - reminding me of the famous Simon and Garfunkel song.
By the time we got back the river was the colour of fine bitter chocolate and had risen very quickly to a raging torrent. There was little point in fishing further. What a sound to fall asleep to later that evening after the glow of a warm fire and some of the amber fluid.
In the KZN Drakensberg, January is usually a time of thunderstorms and surging waters. This is part of nature's cycle, the strong flows cleaning out some of the old slime and depositing nutrients and food for the riparian eco-system. I'm told that as predicted, the rains were particularly late this year and that we have yet to catch up on the average precipitation required to see us through winter's dry spells. Thankfully parts of the Eastern Cape have received much needed rains and we can but hope that the rest of summer will provide the much need relief.
The New Year means renewal of membership. Bronwyn Konigkramer our Secretary tells me she has sent out most of the renewal letters and that many people have already paid their 2020 subscriptions. Thanks to all of you who have done so. This year we have sent out virtual "print and cut out yourself" membership cards. While there have been a few hiccups with the system, Bronwyn assures me she has slowly but surely sorted out the gremlins. Not everyone who paid provided a proper identifying reference. If you have not received a membership card by the time you read this please contact Bronwyn to make sure your payment was recorded.
This year our AGM and EXCO will be in the Western Cape. We will kindly be hosted by the CPS at their office at 4th Floor, The Mercantile Building, 63 Hout Street in Cape Town. We aim to start at 18h00 sharp on Friday 27 March 2020. We look forward to meeting our members based in the Cape and hope you can attend.
2020 promises to be a busy year - the campaign to protect the Mpumalanga Highlands from unsustainable land uses is in full swing, Peter Arderne can use as much help as you may be able to provide. Our river programs are going well and we are hoping to see the Eastern Cape region get going with something soon. Our case against DEFF is nearing the time when we finally get a court date. Our legal team have finalised, served and filed our Heads of Argument (these can found at https://www.fosaf.org.za/legislation.php) and when DEFF have done likewise, the matter will ripe for hearing. All the other issues we have reported on remain on the boil and will need our on-going attention.
All the best and enjoy the summer fishing.
Yours on the line
The Younger and the Elder
At sunset, just this last week, whilst contemplating another tough day on Sterkfontein, Michael and Wayne were busy at the vice tying up a fresh stock of beetles. Michael, the boat skipper and just 25, had packed a lot into his apprenticeship time, including a one on one session with Doctor Hans, originator of the now legendary pattern.
We elder spectators could not help but listen to the easy flow and trading of ideas - the subtle, but critical adjustments to certain features - only dubbing the last two thirds of the abdomen, wrapping cotton in a zig/zag over the prothorax area, allowing generous amounts of trailing hackle to imitate unfolded wings, incorporating blue cactus chenille, shaping the correct width of foam to ensure the beetle lies flush in the meniscus.
The beetle, together with Craig's Hopper, incorporating a flash of red and scaled down to 14 and even 16, tied by Andrew to cover caddis, made the difference to what could well have been extremely thin rewards.
Phillip's modified para-rab, the above hopper, have been our top performers in our Midlands / Eastern Cape river forays. Stuart's "Shakes" a top- water fly for tigers, James at Zingela, his largemouth yellowfish patterns, Matt and Nick on the Orange, Marcel's micro flies on the thin Western cape streams, Johan's "Chief" - a cut above the rest midge pattern. The point is, those mentioned are merely a sample of younger guys at the forefront of what is more than a minor revolution, the likes of which have probably not been seen since the late '70's and early '80's.
Competitive angling at provincial and national level, though not without its detractors, is as Formula One is to the motor industry - lending a continuing newness to the advancement of fly fishing.
Certainly, fishing clubs, social media platforms, "Flytying South Africa" on Facebook, regular, classy magazines, books by local authors, You Tube and TV programmes, all add to an immense sharing of ideas and experiences across the entire fishing spectrum - it is there for all who wish to be part of it.
At a conservation level, never before has there been so much concern amongst fly fishermen for the environment, the state of the Vaal River, an application of the proper principles to Catch and Release.
In KZN, of the 13 Natal Fly Fishers' Club Committee members, the average age of 8 members is just 35. Of the Underberg - Himeville Trout Fishing Club, the average age of 4 of 7 committee members too, is just 35.
The future of so much which has been created over 135 years now vests in the hands of the younger, rightly and deservedly so. The elder certainly have those who have contributed immensely to our beloved sport and always will. Perhaps most in our favour is the benefit of learning and memories created in some cases over close to 10 000 hours on the water. With diminishing athleticism too, there is perhaps no choice but to take it all in slower.
As we elders pass the baton over to the youngers not only can we reflect on all the lessons learned and all the great times we've shared but also we can enjoy learning from the youngers who see things with sharper, innovative and enthusiastic eyes.
And, hanging in the attic is an old wicker creel, unshouldered for perhaps thirty years. It still carries that unmistakeable, musty aroma of wet grass and fresh trout.
FOSAF NATIONAL 2020 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
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