Do I fish alone? – yes, occasionally.
Do I enjoy it? – I do.
Better than fishing with a friend or two? – No, because sharing the experience and in good company tops being alone, mostly.
So why do I fish alone then?
Because every so often I have a sudden urge to get away from the pressing sensory overload of the city – too many cars and people, cramped space, loud noise, daily chores, routines, the rush and bustle – I find fishing alone cathartic, energising, soulfully refreshing There is something I find appealing about the quiet and solitude.
I don’t know how often I have done it, I’d be guessing because the passage of time has kind of gotten ahead of me and my perception of it. But, there have been many outings, day trips to home waters and when I was younger and believed I was invincible, I made a couple of overnight excursions into the headwaters of the Drakensberg streams – not the wisest thing I’ve ever done. Wandering around in wilderness alone takes good-judgement and clear-headiness rather than machismo. Fortunately I’m here to tell the story. Even day trips alone can be risky, a bad fall, fractured limb, concussion, snake bite and more. Why do I mention these? – because they relate to personal experience, close calls I have had – they do make for story telling. A little wiser now I now make sure someone knows my plans for the day. If I’m in the Drakensberg reserve areas, I fill out the mountain register. If I don’t make it back home when expected, they know where to start looking ….. more or less.
Solitary excursions are also an opportunity to reflect on the profound observations, insights and ideas that we are inclined to make when we have time to think and whether there is any truth to them. On the other hand it could simply be a symptom of spending too much time talking to myself.
When last did I fish alone? – It was my final outing in the past season to a seldom visited tributary of a popular Brown trout stream. It was a blue sky day and other than a stop for a doggy take-away coffee and the need for pothole dodging concentration, it was an uneventful drive up to the Berg.
I was in no hurry, why should I be? It was just me, the sights, sound and the mountains, trout and the stream. Tackled up I made my way up the tributary along a faint trail. It petered out after a hundred meters or so. From there I made my way using the path of least resistance. The stream is tiny, bushed in, the water clear and flowing quickly. For two hours as I worked my way upstream, I spooked as many pools as I changed flies, the trout were skittish, the slightest wrong move and they were gone. I rose a few, but didn’t connect, they were all small. By mid-morning it was getting hot so I found a shady spot to have my lunch over-looking a decent pool. There were signs of small smokey dun coloured mayflies hatching, probably baetis. The liquid shadows of the small trout as they fed on the emergers, gave them away, lined up on the edge of the current. There was a decent fish, maybe even 14 inches in the knee deep slot below a large boulder at the head of the pool.
Lunch over I scrambled downstream to below the pool and then slowly worked my way back up into position for a cast. I half crept, settled on my knees and made a low sidearm cast. The Adams with its lightly weighted size 18 PTN dropper landed off the edge of the current seam, not where I wanted it. But, I let it drift, the Adams hesitated, I lifted and felt resistance and he was there. I’m not sure who was the most surprised by the tight line between us. A lovely brown, short of 14 inches, but a monster for this water. A quick photo, the best I could do without help – I’m useless at selfies – a flick of the tail and he melted back into the shadows below the main current and was gone, a fleeting moment.
It was a unhurried, fulfilling days fishing – alone on a small stream as pretty as you will find anywhere. Next time it will be with friends.