I’m awake. It’s 4.15 am, beating my alarm by 15 minutes and retaining my 100% record of never having been unceremoniously startled by the alarm. I throw the gear in the car and meet Grant by 5 am. We pick up Mark in Hillcrest. It’s still dark. Under a large yellow moon sliding towards the horizon, we point the nose of the truck west and follow the ribbon of tar towards the Drakensberg . A quick stop for a coffee at the Windmill Ultra Stop outside Notties and we we’re soon back on the road arriving at Giants Castle after negotiating the perilous potholes in the district roads, many that could have resulted in us being added to the list of missing persons.
The Bushmans at Giants Castle is typical of the many Drakensberg streams. Beginning modestly below the escarpment, slowly gaining momentum as they are fed by a latticework of capillaries, natural springs and small tributaries. A staircase of cascading, cold, gin clear water, flowing through deep valleys, shadowy indigenous forests and over submerged bedrock, worn stone and gravel bars – pools, plunges, runs, riffles and pockets. They keep their secrets close, are unpredictable and have an ambiguity that holds an attraction – full of surprises much like the trout that live in their waters.
But, there is more . . . . . . . . something I wrote a while ago.
The pursuit of wild mountain trout leads to some of the most beautiful, uncluttered, crystalline places this country has to offer, unspoiled natural environments, places where the air and water is clean, where eagles soar high in wide skies, where the only sounds and smells are natures own. Here a rudimentary sense of connection to the big wild earth will creep into awareness, where the seeds of a relationship with the natural world will flourish – these inspiring places are also uncompromising, where man is the intruder, where the earth works its magic …. if you let it in, it will run deep in your soul.
I am are drawn to these waters a little like an eager, spiritually ravenous pilgrim.
In the low, clear icy conditions, the trout were wary. If they spotted you first it was too late. Success only came when they weren’t aware of your presence. I was reminded of the importance of stealth, slowing down, keeping a low profile and using natural features to camouflage your approach.
While some of browns were feeding, others with reproduction and the perpetuation of the species on their minds, were already in their sideways shuffle over the gravel bars – they didn’t give our offerings as much as a passing glance.
It was tough fishing, but a good day to finish off my season. Another ‘one fly day’. I have had a few this season. I stared with a Philip Meyer Para-RAB and ended with the same fly, a little battle scared, but still recognisable.
The drive home involved again running the gauntlet of cavernous potholes on the road through the Kamberg valley and the hundreds of 16 wheelers road-hogs on the N3. We arrived home safely, hungry, dog-tired and content.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg © 2019. All rights reserved