My fly fishing journey started in 1954 at the tender age of 6 years and continues today with the same passion and energy it did all those years ago. With the help of an adopted uncle, Uncle Lake, I caught my first spirited little rainbow on a red tailed Invicta in the headwaters of the Buffalo River. A wisp of a stream where it cascades through glides and pockets in the indigenous forests of the Amatola Mountains a short distance from King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa.
Little did I know then what an impact and influence fly fishing would have on my life. The intensity of the journey did fluctuate from time to time when amongst other things priorities like career, marriage to my wife and best friend Colleen and the raising of our three children, Craig, Warren and Catherine, required me to put fly fishing on the back burner for a while. But, even then every window of opportunity was grabbed with both hands and my gear never quite made it to that dark corner of the cupboard surrounded by moth balls.
The passion never died and instead it has been a wonderful journey of challenges and discovery, it has taken me to places of incredible natural beauty, bringing me enjoyment, happiness and countless cherished memories of the people I have met along the way, the places and encounters with the trout of so may rivers and streams, all indelibly etched in my mind forever.
Apart from my travels to other fishing locations around South Africa and overseas, I have lived in the shadow on the KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg Mountains for more than 35 years, well not exactly in the shadow, but a short 2 ½ hour drive away. In this time I have gotten to know most of the bright threads that sparkle and shine in the deep valleys below the towering buttresses of these mountains, rushing first through pockets and cascading between massive sandstone boulders, stands of budlia and nchichi scrub, before settling into more steady flows as the gradient eases into inviting runs and deeper pools. Over the years in search of the wild trout that inhabit the cool, liquid crystal waters, I have trampled the banks of most of these streams getting to know them intimately, at times spending days alone or with a few companions far from any civilisation and enjoying the experience and adventure in a pristine natural environment, these are my home waters.
These are streams as beautiful as you will find anywhere, loaded with memories – the run that holds a 2 pound brown, Puff-adder rock, named for obvious reasons, Steve’s confluence, Crossing Pool, the Bath Tub, all familiar landmarks. Then there are other natural features that are the markers that I know so well like the Yellowwood tree, the Bridge a natural crossing, Cathedral rock, the Bend. These are mostly permanent features unless the might of nature decides otherwise.
Just as nature alters its landscape over time, my approach to flyfishing has seen its own shift, not the passion or the seriousness of it, but the urgency that previously influenced it has eased and with it, my pace has slowed. No longer do I need lots or big fish although the challenge and enjoyment of hunting trout is still the thing that draws me to these places. I now like to pause occasionally to soak up the surroundings and to rekindle that fundamental connection to the natural world, or just to sit quietly for a moment to recall previous outings, conversations with companions, or to take in the dramatic beauty of the towering peaks, to marvel at the perfection of a spider spinning its web or maybe to be amazed at effortless flight of a soaring eagle.
Please note that all written and photographic material contained in this blog and its posts are the sole ownership of the author/photographer and may not be copied or used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior consent of the author/photographer having been obtained – Peter Brigg.