There is an old cliché that goes something along the lines, “fishing is not just about catching fish”. ………………………….
I met Craig at 5am, threw my gear in the back of the truck and headed west up the N3, a quick stop to top up the tank and an early morning hot chocolate from the Wild Bean Café. The misty drive up to Giants Castle passed quickly on conversation and the concentration it took to negotiate the potholes between Kamberg and the Reserve gate, some of which resembled open cast mines deep enough for travelers to end up on the missing persons list. Inside the gate the road has been repaired and is now in fine condition. We were in the Giants picnic area by 7.45am, after a quick egg and Mrs. Balls Chutney sandwich and a salt and peppered boiled egg (the world has been a better place since chickens started laying eggs – just saying!) – washed down with a strong coffee we were rearing to go.
The mist had all but cleared; above us the Berg escarpment was etched against a wide blue sky – it felt warmer than the 20* C. I always enjoy the steep walk down overlooking the stream snaking its way through the picturesque valley floor. In fact I like everything about fly fishing, you never know quite what to expect, but just being there with rod in hand, the goal has been accomplished; a doglike happiness of being outside and off your lead. The stream looked a lot better than on my last visit when it had its ribs showing. The flow was quicker, clear and happily talkative with rippling conversation splashing its way downstream, a little warmer than I expected, but re-energised from the rain ahead of our visit.
We strung our rods and walked downstream for a while – I put Craig on a run that has always produced in the past – I took the pool above and we leapfrogged from there. An hour passed before we stopped to take stock – nothing, not a sign of a trout. We soldiered on upstream regularly changing flies and tactics.
By 11am, still nothing except for the sudden buildup of ominous looking storm clouds over the Giant with some serious rumbling echoing across the mountains like meteorological indigestion warming up to a great event. A few hundred meters below the confluence with the Tweedassiespruit, the heavens opened, and in seconds we were drenched, the temperature dropped and lightening flashed and cracked around us.
Carbon fibre and lightening is a match made in heaven so we broke down the rods, climbed up to the contour path and beat a hasty 3km retreat to the safety of the truck and another egg sandwich. In the warmth of the cab we talked about the morning’s events, not a single fish, no sighting or even one spooked. It was the first time I have been totally skunked by the browns of the upper Bushmans, a stream that has always produced results occasionally slow, but mostly many fish of 8 to 10 inches and the odd one running in at 12 to 14 inches. Our conclusion, the water was a little warmer than comfortable for the trout and a rapidly falling barometer, but who really knows? I know they are in there, this time for some reason suffering a serious case of lockjaw.
However, we were not disappointed; it was a good day proving the truth of the cliché.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2016. All rights reserved