THE LIGHTER SIDE TO GUIDING
The Western Cape has plenty of capable fly fishing guides – like, André Blignaut, Graeme Field, Sean Mills, Mark Krige, Matt Zilliox, John Yelland, Tim Rolston, Craig Thom and Philip Meyer (in no order of capability) who are all damn good at what they do. But it’s an up and down life and a tough one, even if the Cape streams are productive and beautiful places to hunt trout. Besides the ‘official’ guides there are a few of us – and I number myself, Billy de Jong and Leonard Flemming (now guiding formally in East Africa somewhere) in this company – who are guides of a sort, meaning we will guide just for the fun of it or if we happen to like the company, but never for money. And if that sounds smug it’s not supposed to be. I happen to think that our local guides do a fine job promoting fly fishing and deserve every cent they earn.
Of course in guiding there have been good times, that naturally we remember, and moments a lot of us would rather forget. There have also been a few moments that are not far short of gems. Here’s one.
Not long ago I had a camera on a stream with Billy and Leonard. We were doing the usual thing – spotting for each other, giving advice, guessing at bugs, swapping cheap shots, having fun. This is a particularly delicate piece of water and we were all walking on eggs so as not to spook fish, using 18 foot leaders and 7x tippets, minute flies, the whole minimalist thing. Somewhere into the day we stopped at a pretty run where I had a camera trained on Leonard as he pointed out a fish to Billy. I took the picture as Billy cast to the trout, but the real objective was to ‘close the loop’ as it were, meaning first you shoot the guide spotting the trout, then the presentation, then the take, followed by the hook up, the landing and of course the release. This isn’t something new to us. Billy, Leonard and I have been doing it for years, and Yes, a lot of times it goes wrong and then not always for the obvious reasons.
Here’s the scene from the first shot of Leonard pointing out the fish. As you will see I wasn’t ready for what followed, but in its own way that’s ok. It might otherwise have seemed rigged or staged. Instead I got a Paparassi-type sequence of pictures that tell their own story.
Billy de Jong wipes away the tears. And Yes, this was one fish we missed hooking, but you might have guessed that!