“How Small a Trout” Every day in May Challenge…………Greenery.

Plants like water and even as one of the worst gardeners you would ever have the misfortune to meet I understand that much about them. Their affiliation for the stuff leads them to populate with a spectacular degree of profusion along the banks of most trout streams, and here in South Africa, not a notoriously damp spot, the effects can be dramatic. Most of our rivers have murderously thick bush for a few metres either side of the stream bed and little more than low lying scrub everywhere else. Actually that low lying scrub makes up the most diverse plant kingdom on the planet so I am being a little disparaging.  However many such locations have seen the rise of alien species that are particularly thirsty and grow uninhibited their roots luxuriously dipped in the edges of the flow.

Certainly it adds a sense of verdant charm to our fishing escapades, and one rapidly gets used to what is locally referred to as “Bundu Bashing”, the less than charming discipline of being able to force a worm hole through dense growth in an attempt to find the river.

In fact it was a long standing joke that at a party you could tell the local anglers because they were the ones, who at the end of the evening, would leave directly through your garden hedge.

However it equally means that once you are in the river you stay there, nearly all the fishing is done wet wading in the stream, not only is walking elsewhere perilous at best and impossible at times, but equally it is the only space in which one can swing a fly rod.

A bad day of tangling leaders in the greenery can lead one to having wet dreams of drift boat fishing on a large Western River or the open space of a bonefish flat. Only recently fishing with a lovely client who normally spent most of his time fishing in a boat off the American coast, I was encouraging him that he would get the hang of things and was obviously a little out of practise. His comment? “Yes we don’t have much of this problem in the Gulf of Mexico”.

Actually it isn’t that bad, once you get used to fishing short and keeping control of the line. Indeed one can grow to appreciate the fact that much as the bush adds complexity it can also afford protection from the wind and harbour a variety of terrestrial insects, which form on some streams a significant part of the diet of the trout.

What it does mean however is that one becomes adept and retrieving flies from tree tops, if you are a fishing guide doubly so.

I am trained as a biologist, at least nominally, although my previous profession was more about red stuff than green stuff. Still that background means that I have a fairly scientific view of the world about me. Take for example evolution, Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species in 1859” although he wrote it earlier and was too afraid to tell anyone. Darwin never really said this but the common perception is that for whatever reason apes descended from the trees, developed a neat little trick of walking upright and gradually evolved to be us.

Now I am not entirely sure if some of those apes just decided all that walking about ,and the lumbar pain that inevitably goes along with it, was just a tad too much to bear, hotfooting it back to the relative comfort of the tree tops. Or if a select few just never made the jump in the first place. What I am sure about is that fishing guides are descended from one of those groups. We are at least semi-arboreal. We spend a lot less time than the magazines would suggest, pointing out rising trout and analysing hatches and a great deal more of it clambering up bankside vegetation retrieving errantly cast flies and nylon.

I like greenery, I like the colour it adds to an otherwise drab landscape, I like the splash of reds and purples when the stuff is in flower and as a vegetarian I am pretty much dependent upon it for my sustenance but I don’t greatly appreciate it when it is in the way of my back-cast.

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One Response to “Greenery”

  1. Anticipation | The Fishing Gene Says:

    […] the organizers and were random but for a very much fly fishing theme for the most part. “Bugs”, “Greenery”, “Safety First” and many other subjects were covered, one per day. I confess that I only […]

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