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Thread: B*tch-creek Nymphing & The Millennium Bug

  1. #1

    Default B*tch-creek Nymphing & The Millennium Bug

    Just to get things going (and generate a little pre-distribution publicity for my upcoming book of the same name) here is the title story. I have to publish in 2 parts as there is a limit on the number of characters allowed per post... a fact I discovered when trying to upload it earlier.



    “It is a very good quality in a man to have a trout stream.” – George Elliot, Middlemarch

    Deadlines and jam sandwiches are not high on my list of favourite things. I guess they hold too much memory of school years, of regimental anguish, of times that were nothing if not melancholic, rooted in ennui and dependence. Thankfully those years were brief, passing in the blink of an eye and soon enough the curtain of destiny came slamming down on my ignominious academic career around the time of a sixteenth birthday. Nonetheless they set a pattern. Ever since, and notwithstanding a subsequent lifetime of modest achievement, I still feel a strange discordance whenever I am around any kind of campus, as if I were a miscreant, still trespassing.

    And so it came to be that long years after shaking the dust of academia from the by then well-worn heels of my sneakers, my first-born, Sean, in his final year at a reputable school in Grahamstown, demanded my presence at a formal dinner in his dormitory. So as not to unduly embarrass the boy, or disgrace those hallowed halls, I went out and bought what I thought to be appropriate attire. Properly advised by a bespoke tailor to many generations of well-bred toffee-nosed snotarses, I found myself the bemused owner of a charcoal single-breasted day suit and a pair of finely stitched black Italian leathers. They fitted like a dream, but would be useless in a river or on any mountain slope. The soles just did not have any grip.

    Sean, unused to seeing me so attired and not expecting it, looked straight through me, at first with not a shred of recognition – and it began to dawn upon me that I was in for a jammed-sandwich deadlined weekend.

    “Hey Pa? Is that you? What happened? You look like a hippy in a hired wedding suit. Did you get robbed or something?”

    I explained the purity of my impulsion. He grimaced.

    “It’s sweet of you, but you should have stuck to jeans, you might have looked less like a horse’s ass”, he confided gently.

    I love that boy and like Abraham could happily have sacrificed him.

    The expedition was not entirely a debacle. For brief moments I basked in the glory of my boy’s academic accolades and sound socialisation, but more to the point, I got to stop over along the Hogsback on my way home. In the sweet-scented pines with my bespoke trousers wound up around my bespoke knees I spent long moments rolling casts over a chuckling stream, catching a half dozen firm-fleshed tiny rainbows and gathering a punnet of perfect little cep (Boletus edulis) buttons from beneath the forest carpet. What a breakfast they made seared in a skillet of bacon and butter on an open fire.

    The Hogsback, not unlike the hills where I now live, enfolds often in a skirl of swirling mist, which softens the light until the landscape turns as grey and as granular as a newsprint photograph. Time itself becomes just another velvet-soft midrange tonal shade. It is a fine backdrop for a breakfast and though the memory is now more than twenty years distant, in my mind’s eye I still savour the bouquet of that mess of mushrooms, crisped fingerlings and musty pine.

    It all seems so far away now that the circus blare of modern media marketing has swept up flyfishing and its once-hidden valleys, its crystal streams and the still, deep waters where wild fish fin. The spotlight’s glare has entirely passed by the Hogsback and its trout, and they are today as reclusive as they ever were. I doubt there are many modern fishermen around who even know of their existence – and that makes them pure in a way that the monster fish adorning the glossy pages of fishing magazines never can be.

    You will guess perhaps that back then I was at heart a romantic and, as such, not of much use in real relationships or their servicing. Nevertheless, with Sean it was different and I took him fishing often, not that it did him any good. The little ingrate has, with scant appreciation for the many hours we spent together at waters’ edges, grown to contemn things piscine.

    His aversion was never for the water itself, for he has to the contrary given every appearance of a fondness for the stuff. He will, for instance, lie for hours on a surfboard beyond shark-infested reefs with the waves crashing down around him. He will swim in it, dive in it, and too often for his own good grunt and shove the afternoon away with a dozen testosterone-riven jocks in a polo pool. At the drop of a hat he will sail single handed in a flimsy craft across great oceans of endless water. Far latitudes and the treachery of their currents hold no peril for him. He will raft for days on end down raging torrents on the Zambezi and the Orange. Even in full spate they are too tame for him.

    Given half an opportunity and the right kind of moon, he would, no doubt, like any healthy young animal, in the course of a summer midnight swim allow himself to be shamelessly seduced by gaggles of young maidens and think no more of it than as *****-creek nymphing.

    Yup, he likes water and has a keen appreciation for all things natural, as long as they are bereft of any angling inference or instrument.

    This aberration of his, specific as it is to fishing, betrays an unhealthy pessimism at his core. Any angler, no matter how depressive he might be in the rest of his affairs, is naturally and unerringly an optimist when on the water. Every tug and snag felt in the line is transformed by the mind, if only for a second, into a leviathan of a fish, a moment of pure joy Every weed, every branch, all flotsam and jetsam, whatever might brush his line, galvanises the true angler in a way that is instinctive and primordial.

    But with my boy it is different. Once we went fishing at Sterkfontein Dam. There, with a good four-pound rainbow trout cavorting at the end of his line, he proved for all time that he is afflicted with a whole string of regressive genes.

    “It’s probably a plastic shopping bag,” he said languidly with his hands in his pockets while his rod juddered and bucked all over the boat’s transom.

    “It’s a fish, you freaking weirdo,” I told him with stern paternalism.

    “Nah, I never catch anything,” he reminded me.

    Youth is wasted on him. While filled with his full due of boundless energy, of passion and of dreaming, he has not the patience that distance brings and without which there can be no fishing. Though he is happy enough to accompany me on my outings into ***’s own country, an invisible line separates us. Where I turn my attention to fish and their watery realms and am bound to their orbits, he finds distractions in the fields and hills all around. I have become reconciled to it and no longer try to suck him into piscatory adventures.

    Just a few months ago, with summer at its height, my penchant for fishing brought me face-to-face yet again with a whole universe of new discovery. The warm, wet solstice evenings saw unrestrained hatches of aquatic insects, many entirely new to me. They came rising off the water in clouds, accompanied by the meaty splashes of large, surface-feeding trout. For once my vast collection of fishing flies was found wanting. Evening after evening, with skeins of bugs spinning into the dusk, I was caught without a match for the hatch. The situation was intolerable and I set about its remedy.

    In no time I was hunched over my fly-tying table, surrounded by all the bits of fur, feather, floss and fluff our craft is cluttered with and renowned for. With samples of the living creatures as a guide, I undertook the construction of all manner of cunning imitations. Chief among my labours was an attempt to imitate a little shell-backed iridescent green bug, a member of the chrysomelidae family that at times blanket the water, bringing the feeding fish to a boil.

    Late one night, while all around me the household slept, I burnt the midnight oil intent on conjuring a replica of the prismatic little beetle. Sean padded into the room bearing two mugs of scalding tea. He flopped into the rocking chair next to my fly-tying operation.

    “What have we here, dad?”

    “It’s that little green leaf-chewing bugger that has been keeping the fish from eating my flies,” I told him.

    “Wow, that’s really cool,” he said, his eyes lighting up with an enthusiasm that I dared not trust. “Here, let me try one.”

    He pushed my mug over to where I would need to rise if I hoped to reach it. As I did, he slid into my tying chair and adjusted the magnilight.

    “We use them to catch trout,” I reminded him.

    “Do you have any larger hooks?” he asked, bending purposefully into the task.

    Last edited by Surly Ghillie; 31-07-07 at 06:15 PM. Reason: "I spent the morning putting a comma in, and the afternoon taking it out again" OSCAR WILDE

  2. #2




    Could this be true? Was my boy finally after all these years evincing an honest interest in something so seminal as fly tying? Was this moment a harbinger of things more glorious to come? I warmed with an inner glow and paternal pride welled into my eyes.

    I showed him around the tying table, with each shelf baize-lined and compartmentalised, every part snugly filled with neatly-fitting tubs and containers, the translucent canisters packed with premixed dubbings, the threads and waxes, the furs – muskrat, seal and rabbit. And then I pointed to the skins, in olive, furnace, blue dun, cream and amber, the dyed buck, squirrel and calf tails. We went through the feathers of jungle cock, golden pheasant, woodcock, grouse and old English game cock, the teal and mallard wings, the widgeon and ptarmigan. And the hooks: sneck, snell, limerick and perfect, in every size from minuscule thirty-two’s to the brutal sixes and fours. I opened the tool drawer so that he might help himself to thread bobbins, cement needles, hackle pliers, whip finishers, wing burners, teasers and parachute hackle gallows.

    “Wow,” he said.

    The moment was deeply emotional. Overcome almost, I left him to it, concerning myself elsewhere so that he could find his own pace and unsheathe his own creativity. When I went to bed a few hours later he was still hard at work, hunched over the vise and surrounded by a halo of light that in my conceit seemed to radiate from his very centre.

    Days later, I tagged him.

    “How did your flies turn out?” I asked ingenuously.

    He dug into a pocket and removed a pair of oversized hooks cunningly dressed in a rainbow of colour. But the points had been filed down and coated, each with a neat blob of pearlescent epoxy.

    “I call them millennium bugs,” he said smugly.

    “Whadaya do that for?” I asked, perplexed. “You have entirely wrecked a pair of very fine titanium-coated, chemically-sharpened fishhooks.”

    “Can’t you see they are earrings? It’s R’s birthday and I forgot to get her a gift,” he said, nonchalantly slipping them back into a pocket. “Daddy dear, if you think they’re for fishing, you’re still a horse’s ass.”

    After all these years, my boy remembers and it helps not a jot to bemoan the passing of innocence.......


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Cape Town


    Now this is what I'm talking about! Dont stop posting bru!

    " Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian." -Dennis Wholey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006


    Something new to add to the my must reads.

    Thank you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Brilliant ! Thoroughly enjoyed the read and it will definitely be added to my growing library of fishing related literature !

    By the way, "snotarse" is my new favourite word !

  6. #6

    Thumbs up

    what a awsome piece made my day for sure. when can we see more off this??

    by the way when are we going b!tch creek nynphing hehehehe exelent!!!!
    Photography Rules!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    A, A


    the fisrt time I ever read the mind bobbling words that eminates from your pen/typewriter/computer I liked it, and yet again you had this Afrikaans speaking boertjie reaching for the dictionary..can't wait to get my hands on the rest of it

  8. #8


    dateline Aug 19. Well, just finished my final compilation proof-read of the manuscript and I'm off to the printers tomorrow ~ once the corrections have been uploaded we start printing..
    One step closer to release!!!!!

    Watch this space.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007


    Made Oi larf....


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Eastern Cape


    Quote Originally Posted by Surly Ghillie View Post
    dateline Aug 19. Well, just finished my final compilation proof-read of the manuscript and I'm off to the printers tomorrow ~ once the corrections have been uploaded we start printing..
    One step closer to release!!!!!

    Watch this space.
    HI Wolf,

    What was the outcome regarding this unreal thread. I was not addicted to the forum then.

    Handle every situation like a dog.- If you cant hump it, piss on it and walk away. --JASPER.

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