"ON THE LINE" - EDITORIAL FROM THE FOSAF CHAIR – ILAN LAX.
Some months ago I was invited to be the guest speaker at the Underberg Himeville Trout Fishing Club's AGM Dinner. What a pleasant evening and a wonderful opportunity to spread the word on FOSAF. In preparation I thought I had better brush up on a few details, so I visited the FOSAF website (http://www.fosaf.co.za/) to gather some information. By the time I'd finished I had eight pages of history, objectives, achievements, exemplary services awards, to note just a few aspects.
We then headed off to Underberg and were kindly hosted by Wolf Avni. It was fitting that by the time we arrived at the Underberg Club for the dinner I had managed to coax and return two decent sized fish out of Wolf's magnificent fishery.
It is heartening to see many of the Flyfishing Clubs experiencing a bit of a renaissance especially with new blood and new ideas. At the previous AGM there was a sense that the UHTFC was in danger of folding. However, the new leadership have turned that around. I am told that the same can be said for many other clubs. This is great news for SA Flyfishing. While it is unlikely that any of the clubs will manage to emulate the membership levels that prevailed in years gone by, what is heartening is that there is a clear-headed sense of pragmatism and the understanding that the needs of members can still be met albeit with limited resources.
I got my opportunity to share my passion for flyfishing and the environment with those present. Hopefully some of those present will go away with a better picture of what FOSAF has and continues to do and feel inclined to join us. What is clear to me is that we need to ensure that we get through to the many flyanglers out there who have very little or no idea of what FOSAF is or does.
I also managed to get the FOSAF Eastern Cape AGM and was kindly hosted by them to some great but unsuccessful fishing at Gubu Dam just outside Stutterheim. The Chapter is well and truly on a good trajectory and its member clubs also appear to be doing well. My thanks to Alan Hobson and Brian Clark once again for their wonderful hospitality.
Summer is now upon us and the rivers are looking lowish but good despite the good rains. There have been excellent reports of good but hard fishing from across the country. This is good news indeed! I wish you tight lines! Finally, Bill Bainbridge, Jake Alletson and I visited Joan Crass, wife of the late Bob Crass, to deliver Bob's Exemplary Service Award. We were well received and Joan was gratified to see FOSAF's recognition of the huge contribution made by Bob Crass.
WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW By Wolf Avni.
Season's bleatings. Houston we have a problem. Acerbic humour and dark satire are by preference my weapons of first choice, make for a style of authorship probably better suited to the penning of dirge and/or doggerel, rather than a penmanship that is to be trusted with any edition of your Tippet, never mind the festive season's . But what the heck; it's Christmas... and such an honour to be offered the slot at all that I feel I really owe it some half-honest assiduity. Nor need I cast far to hook some subject worthy of the occasion. A humble reflection on the 'State of Nation' is suitably sombre.
Festivals of celebration by nature provide platforms for very public displays of sanctity. No one really cares that they be made up nine parts of conspicuous consumption to each part of pure humbug and an equal ratio of that essence for each particle of actual devotional intent. Irresistible marketing opportunities arise where consumers shoal like sardines. Take Christmas. Yes, it's downright gaudy, capricious too... plain hell if you're the turkey. Five gets you ten every time it'll leave you cold, well, first basted, then burned, but ultimately, cold. And cold turkey isn't something much worth celebrating.
Keeping in mind that we generally aim to make a living from the things we do, the fact is we actually land up making a life from how we do those selfsame things. If fly-fishing be a metaphor for all-of-living, then it's no surprise that its terms of reference should mirror and reflect some of that same parlous circumstance afflicting the broader landscape we live our lives out in.
Firstly there is the NEMBA issue. It may have gone temporarily subterranean, but that doesn't mean it's gone away. We (by which I mean an unsuspecting public), are about to be presented with a fifth iteration of what in four previous drafts has proven to contain more of a fanciful and very abstracted ideology, rather than any plausible and scientifically credible framework for the practical protections of a terminally ailing environment. Forgive me if this comes across a little disillusioned, but speaking as a simple fish farmer I'm finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the stoic sobriety shown by the FOSAF environmental sub-committee. My patience is running thin. How they manage to maintain their professionalism in the face of an intractable bureaucracy and its foot-mercenary; that intransigent condescension on the part of a cartel of academics who really seem to have no notion of the extent of their own blurred prejudice, is completely beyond me. I'm about ready to spit blood and I have no intention that it be my own. (I must own this past year to having been rather more in retreat than so many of the FOSAF warriors who fight the good fight on behalf of all who flyfish).
Then there's the issue of a climate changing so fast that it looks set to pre-empt even the worst indulgences of half-baked partnerships between state
environmental agencies and bio-diversity theorists. There's nothing abstract about global warming; a flooding Umzimkulwana river in July/August, cosmos blooming in the first week of spawn in the first week of April now drop not a single egg before May 23...
Having got that out the way I'd like to share a tale of cheer that gives the lie to any amount of seasonal humburger. Away road-trip'n somewhere in the Karoo, I receive a phone call from my boy, the fruit of my loins, manfully looking after the hatchery while I'm off gallivanting in the midst of a searing drought. "Dad", he says with the full authority and certainty of any nineteen year old,"get your sorry ass back on the farm pronto. I'm off to do my Unisa pracs tomorrow and there is barely enough water here to float a dead fish. The dam is a-drying and the syphons are a-failing. Caught somewhat offside, I cut my photographic desert dalliance short and hightail for home with images of knee deep dead trout driving me onwards. Cut a long story short, my route takes me via Dordrecht and Molteno through to Matatiele. But the road in parts takes us through some rather hectic terrain. Around Gaza (eastern Cape, not Palestine) disempowerment and poverty have turned the local people unfriendly and inclined towards the criminal and if I can possibly help it, I'd rather not travel that stretch after dark. We elect to look for lodgings in Molteno, but passing through late on a Sunday afternoon, it doesn't come off. So we push on through. We'll stop in Dordrecht for the night. Well that doesn't pan out either. The few outspans that are available so far off the beaten track are either full or not answering their phones. So in the rapidly falling dusk we push on, throwing ourselves into the night and upon the mercy of the road ... the universe.
Some way out of Dordrecht, in the last glimmer of a gathering gloom when we had long given up on any chance of breaking the journey, we speed past a faded green sign reading Highland Lodge. On a bare bar of signal I tap the number on the sign into my cell and after a while a country voice answers brightly.
"Hi", says my preppy best-behaved telephone persona. I give my name and plead our predicament. We need somewhere to stay and we need it here and we need it now.
I myself offer accommodation in the mountains and I'm not too sure that I would under similar circumstances, have leapt to offer a roof to some random unannounced low-life looking for lodgings under cover of dark.
The voice over the phone tells me; "Well, it's like this; the lodge is closed at this time, but this is Vicky Bell and Wolf as I've only been buying our stocking trout off you for about a decade, I figure I can take the chance. You are welcome to our spare room".
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