The truth of it is I’m a soppy, sentimental, self-confessed nostalgic, a trait inherited from my father.
My wife Colleen and I recently did a road trip through the Transkei and Eastern Cape visiting old haunts from our youth and later after we were married, that held so many good memories for us.
A particular highlight for me was revisiting Maden Dam at Pirie, a short drive from King William’s Town. In the 1970’s as a member of the then Frontier Acclimatisation Society I fished Maden Dam frequently.
But, it was especially the forested headwaters of the Buffalo River that held the attraction. It was here where the stream flows into the top end of the dam that I caught, with the help of my mentor, my first trout in 1955 – a small 12 inch rainbow on a Red Tailed Invicta. How do I know this? – apart from the memory I have of that exciting moment, I found an entry in my Dad’s diary where he recorded that special event.
From the spot known as Pages Corner at the top end of the Dam, I scrambled a few hundred meters upstream into the indigenous forest, searching for that magical pool. I found it eventually, recognising the large rock against the right bank where the small trout was fooled by my offering. There was a strong flow that day, 64 years ago, with a lively cascade at the head of the pool, unlike the very low water level on the day of my visit. Amazingly, very little seemed to have changed as I remembered it.
Going through my Dad’s stuff after he passed away in 1978, I discovered a box of family keepsakes each that held a special meaning for him. Amongst these was the not so little Red Tailed Invicta from that eventful day on the 5th April 1955 – he had saved it. Colours have faded over time like the handwritten pencil note that described what it was.
The fire that ignited my fly fishing passion all those years ago, still burns as brightly now as it did then.