FOSAF CHAIRMAN'S 2012/13 ANNUAL REPORT Ilan Lax
Northvaal: the Chapter continues to be led by Peter Mills and his excellent team. Peter Arderne must be commended for his sterling efforts in expanding the Chapter's involvement in the Steenkampsberg environmental project aimed at securing the health of the many rivers in the chapter's area of influence. Peter Mills continues to lead the Yellowfish Working Group and once again wish them well with their annual deliberations in April at Vaal Streams, Deneysville. We always look forward to the proceedings publication ably edited by Peter Arderne.
The Western Cape: Gerald Penkler has stood down as Chairperson of the WC Chapter and he has been succeeded by Leonard Flemming who is back from his travels abroad. The Chapter reports that they have been less active this year but continue to be involved in activities supporting aquatic biodiversity conservation efforts. While the committee continues to try and find a balance between the interests of indigenous species and trout there appears to be much more that needs to be done in this regard.
KZN: Jim Read continues lead an active and committed chapter committee. While the chapter has maintained a relationship with the provincial conservation agency and other stakeholders, the freshwater fishing liaison committee has not met for some time. We are concerned at the apparent breakdown in effectiveness of this and other communication channels with EKZNW. While some clubs in the region remain active there is a need to ensure other clubs remain viable.
Free State: Dirk Human once again reports that he has had a difficult year and has struggled to achieve significant buy-in from the various fly-anglers and clubs in the province. The state of many of the rivers and the fish in them remains a concern. As noted previously FOSAF will have to find new alternatives to achieve its goal of uniting flyfishers in the region and we once again commend Dirk for his persistent efforts.
MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
Once again thanks are also due to: John Webber for the preparation of our AFS. He keeps us on the straight and narrow and ensures financial accountability; our President Andrew Levy and vice-presidents Tom Sutcliffe and Bill Mincher for their consistent wise counsel when and if called upon; Bill Bainbridge for continuing to chair the Environmental Committee; and my colleagues on the EXCO for their on-going support and commitment.
I again want to thank the wives and partners of EXCO members for sharing their significant others with us and holding the fort in their absence on FOSAF business.
We need to find a way to get through to anglers in general and to speak in voice that they find meaningful. This does not mean we have to change our mission and values but it does mean we will have to find new ways of being heard and ensuring that what we do and say find resonance with those we seek to partner with. If we are unable to attract new and younger members or at least people who would support our efforts much of what we have achieved may well be in vain.
I again look forward to sharing FOSAF's vision and objectives to address the issues and opportunities that face us in the year ahead. We have to ensure that will better see and appreciate the value proposition FOSAF represents. FOSAF has an impressive legacy and it is our privilege to build on that.
AGE AND THE FLYFISHER . WHA ZAT? By Peter Brigg
Like the imperceptible development of reason in a young three year old, so does age creep up on us as flyfishers without warning. It probably becomes noticeable first in companions ten or more years older. Towards the end of the process it first shows itself in their slowing down they don't move with the same ease or speed that they once did, they seem to fuss a little longer with tackling up as you remember them it's almost as if there is some invisible haze covering their eyes and brain.
You notice the once accurate cast so perfectly presented, land awkwardly over the trout you had stalked. They begin to wilt before the day is done; you see it in the squint, the occasional stretch to lessen the nagging back pain, the limp, and the more frequent stops for a breather. It gets blamed on the flu last week, the extra few pounds added during the past winter, an old rugby injury, everything but the real truth. These are the kind of signs that will eventually come to us all, some sooner than later.
I knew MK for most of my life and I can't recall the number of times we fished together and the wonderful memories we shared, but it was many. I don't remember him slowing down. At 63 he seemed pretty much like he was in his thirties, animated, quick of movement and always with a positive outlook on life generally. Considering he'd been through a tough upbringing and had battled more than his fair share of life's challenges, his quick wit, warm personality and unquestionable passion for flyfishing, in some ways was surprising. When he reached his late fifties, his struggles this time with health started all over again heart, kidneys and other organs, bruised and failing and yet he never complained. After a bout of illness he always said that he had never felt better. He had an interesting outlook on his health and felt that if they took an organ a year, he had enough left to take him as far as he wanted for his purposes then suddenly he passed away.
MK had completed his cycle. Like him, the seasons and their weather patterns, the school year and its terms have their cycle we live by their rhythms. The fishing season too starting in spring after the dead of winter, the rebirth of all around us. Then into the dog days of summer with soaring temperatures and violent thunderstorms before sliding into autumn for what MK called, "the sweet of the year", and then once again entering the chill of winter. It is a cycle, a rhythm that flyfishers are keyed into I don't think we would have it any other way.
All of these make up the greater pattern of life for flyfishers a fishing life. Many of us, started with an inexplicable draw to water and a link through our line to the pulse of life that swam below and into our hearts. Now a few years younger than when I caught my first small rainbow in the Buffalo River deep in the Eastern Cape's Amatola mountains, my grandsons have taken to asking about everything from a pin to a beetle, "wha zat?" surely the beginning of knowledge? I don't think I was any different when I asked the same question, "wha zat?" Amongst it all, I learnt to understand the drift of the line, to
decipher the ring of a rise, the movement of life in the depths. I grew and learnt and read a lot, gained my independence and mobility, I discovered more about the trout and unravelled some of the enigma about life and the rhythms of the stream.
There was the hunger for more knowledge in what for me seemed a natural progression in flyfishing. It led to better understanding and skill from the early fumbling attempts at casting and presentation to fooling even the most difficult of wild trout. How many, even apparently insignificant questions, but telling ones, led from then to now and, what a fun journey it has been. My passion for flyfishing now seems so logical, a natural, happy progression from not knowing to knowing. But, it doesn't end there and part of aging is learning how to learn to assimilate, to modify and to adapt. In flyfishing, it is seemingly a never-ending process.
It is always easier to recognize aging in a friend from slow changes to the sometime sudden often-unexpected incidents that dramatically change things forever weakening muscle, degenerating eyesight and hearing. We resist acknowledging the changes and sometimes don't perceive what is happening until through someone else's comment or a helping hand when stumbling in the stream: things that seldom happened ten years ago. It maybe indiscernible at first, but the signs are there - not hearing a companions voice above the wind, not seeing the shadow of a fish move across the bottom or the white of its mouth opening underwater, or a painful hip after a long day on the stream. Growing old is definitely not for the faint hearted as is accepting the reasons for stumbling or clumsiness they are the harsh reality.
But, there are still good things that come with age we stay away from water that we know from experience not to be productive, we choose the right fly without hesitation, we read the water better and we understand the rise forms because we have seen them all a thousand times. We have stopped false casting and finally have patience and are content with not being in a hurry knowing that the trout aren't going anywhere we understand our limitations, and know that there is no such thing as an expert flyfisherman and that we can still learn and enjoy fly fishing in the years we have left.
We are in the cycle of life some of us perhaps nearer to the end than the beginning, linked to its rhythms, poised between what we can do and can't, still passionate about our flyfishing, but accepting of a little less. There are still many undreamed of and new answers - I will never stop asking that question of my youth with the same enthusiasm and vigour, Wha zat?"
TOURISM STUDY Peter Arderne
The results of the study of tourism in and around Dullstroom are now available on the FOSAF website on the link http://www.fosaf.co.za/tourist. Alternatively contact Peter Arderne at email@example.com for an electronic pdf copy. Undertaken by the University of Johannesburg with financial support from FOSAF it is titled "An assessment of the Social & Economic Impacts of Tourism Development in Dullstroom." This mainly qualitative research captured the views and experiences of 16 local business owners and managers and 46 black employees, the latter who lived in the neighbouring township of Sakhelwe.
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