|“ON THE LINE” - EDITORIAL FROM THE FOSAF CHAIR - Ilan Lax |
"Dry and distressed!" appears to sum up the weather conditions in most places where our fisheries are situated. So while the spring has truly sprung with warmer weather everywhere the usual spring rains have been rather thin or have gone walkabout completely. To say that whatever water our rivers still have in them requires proper and careful management would be an understatement. Yet history has shown that provided the rains eventually come the waters will recover and the fishing should again improve fairly quickly.
Just when we thought we were making some useful and practical progress on the NEMBA issue the DEA has finally responded to our submission made in November last year with a new framework that does not create the agreed enabling environment for the trout value chain. Once again we are faced with further efforts to undermine the win-win agreed to at Phakisa in Durban in August last year. Once again the "solutions" being pushed onto stakeholders are out of kilter with common sense and the practical principles informing what had been previously agreed to. Once again our repeated offers of assistance and willingness to sit around a table to discuss the solutions were not taken up.
As we intimated in our last "on the line" we were deeply concerned that was intended to be a simple process of mapping "where trout occur" so that "where trout don't occur" could form the basis of the listed areas, had morphed into a confused and contested process that failed to follow its own agreed terms of reference. Most provincial officials failed to respond to the maps prepared with your inputs and sent to them as early as March this year. To date we have still to receive any coherent response to these maps which were to be discussed at a further mapping workshop held in Pretoria on 13 and 14 October 2015. Despite being invited to attend on 14 October we were requested at very short notice not to attend and we reluctantly agreed to do so.
Where does this leave us? We agreed a common sense solution at Phakisa. This has been endorsed politically. The trouble is that the environmental officials don't like it and appear intent on frustrating the agreement. We have to work hard to ensure this agreement gets implemented.
We now have to prepare further submissions to DEA explaining why we think that what they have now placed on the table is not compatible with the agreement, impractical and will simply fail to achieve the win-win we have all worked for and which they say they support. We have much work to do and I urge you to make your voices heard when we call for your support. We will endeavour to provide you with clear and concise explanations for why we do not support the present approach DEA are taking.
May I again remind you (and as many others as you can encourage) to collect as much "evidence" (in whatever usable form) of the presence of trout as possible. This will be useful in the near future.
FOSAF subscriptions are due again for the New Year. We have endeavoured to keep the increase as low as possible. Individual subs will be R280 and affiliate subs will be R1900. FOSAF is there to secure your flyfishing and we value your support. Remember our members' special of six copies of Flyfishing Magazine at the discounted price of R120 for 2016.
May I take this opportunity of wishing all of you and your loved ones a happy and peaceful festive season. Wherever you are this summer seek out the chance to cast a line and find some peace.
I leave you with this edited version of a quote from the wise Robert Traver: "I fish because I love to. Because I love the environs where trout are found, ... Because in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing what they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion. ... Because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip. ..... And, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important, but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant and not nearly so much fun."
It sometimes hard to remember that we do this for fun.
Community - Gordon van der Spuy
The more I travel, fish and tie the more I realise that flyfishermen are one big family. We're a bit like the broederbond really but in a positive way. The idea of community is a very important one, one that is essential if we want to see our sport thrive. Wherever I go I realise that flyfishing communities are kept together by organisations. I think of the CPS, Natal Flyfishers club, Durban Flytyers, Transvaal Flytyers guild, Jacaranda Flyfishing club, Sneeuberg Aquatic conservancy, Somerset east trout club etc etc. All these organisations have one thing in common, they are headed by extremely passionate individuals who basically transfer a kind of energy to their members through their respective organisations. Energy, although abstract, is one powerful thing. It can make magic happen. Like 15 pound trout in the middle of the Karoo. Only flyfishermen could've thought this up.
No other normal person would've thought that viable. Flyfishing like heroin is highly addictive, its more of a lifestyle than a hobby really, kind of like being a school teacher or a miner. They're not careers, they're lifestyles. Flyfishing is no different.
Flyfishers are a very powerful group of people when they work together.
I'm not a fan of Forums per say, people become very uninhibited when they are talking via their computer as opposed to face to face. I'm guilty myself, its easy to get carried away in front of a computer. Once egos get in the way then things go pear shaped and the actual message of the thread, which might have actually been valuable gets lost . There are plenty of self-professing experts nowadays, these okes are more interested in proclaiming their expert status than actually helping develop the sport. The guys doing that are the guys getting their hands dirty, on ground level. They are the guys clearing wattle from rivers, fighting government on the trout issue, organising casting and fly tying events, having monthly meetings, organising trips and bringing in quality products etc. They are doers, not just sayers. Typing is easy, putting words into action is another thing altogether. One can choose to live in a bubble and just potter on your lonesome but we need to realise the following fact. Together we can achieve more. I know that sounds like a slogan from a Corporate team building event but its true. Being part of an organisation is important because its necessary for us to move forward. Groups of people operating with a common goal are far more effective than individuals.
Travelling and working with numerous flyfishing organisations has taught me a few things.
Firstly, successful organisations are always headed by proactive , positive people who are willing to put in the effort and time.
Secondly , the yappers are not the doers, the guys talking too much are the guys doing the least.
Thirdly, the guys making it happen are just normal everyday people, very often not the ' Experts". The point is, they are doers.
Fourthly, and this shocked me, FOSAF only has about 400 hundred members Nationally. I think there are in the region of 6000 flyfisherman in this country. Ok, lets say half of those are weekend hackers, that leaves us with about 3000 hardcore guys. The maths there just doesn't add up. I'm guilty too, it must be said. I'm not a member but I reckon I need to make a plan. Smaller organisations like the ones I mentioned earlier should all belong to an organisation like FOSAF. A larger body that fights for the interests of all of us. I am not biased, I'm not a member remember!
Fifthly, we have a problem. There is a lack of junior involvement in the majority of the organisations and clubs I work with. There are people like Keegan Kennedy from the Roam Free academy and Louis de Jager from Boland Flyfishing doing amazing things with the youth but by and large we need to integrate the work we do with the young ones into the clubs and societies. That's where competitive angling is a very useful tool. It appeals to the kids, we shouldn't be slamming it, we should be embracing it. It's a feeder system for the sport. Most of the youngsters go on to become highly involved in the sport. I think of all the young guides and flyfisherman working for outfits like Flycastaway and Tourettes. Many of them come from the competitive scene. They are little sponges, sucking up information. Organisations need to work with or establish angling clubs within schools. When I was at Pretoria Boys high many moons ago the angling club was the most popular club in the school. There was a waiting list to get in. We even had our own club room, an abandoned classroom, that had vices permanently set up and served as headquarters during break times. Look, we obviously had a school master, Alex Juno, who was beyond obsessed about fishing so that helped.
Speaking of Molapong and their aquaculture facilities in Du Toit's Kloof reminded me of another, but different adventure involving fish collected from the Du Kloof Lodge fishing ponds. There had been numerous complaints about the water quality of the Molenaars River below the Lodge in the past three years. To prevent any heated debates about this, Molapong performed a water quality assessment of the Du Kloof Lodge property and its surrounds to shed some 'light' on the sources of the murky and smelly river water. One of the 'factors' contributing to water turbidity was tench in the fishing ponds next to the Du Kloof Lodge (not to be confused with the Du Kloof Molapong Trout aquaculture ponds nearby). The feeding habits of these cyprinids (which are very similar to the grubbing habits of carp) stir up the mud in water, leading to water turbidity issues. So in contrast to the Kromrivier trout collected for breeding and stocking purposes, the tench would be collected to kill and pass on for food to the previously disadvantaged community in Paarl.
Killing the tench proved to be much harder than anticipated. The initial plan was to drain the ponds with trash pumps and net the bigger fish and leave the ponds to dry for a forty eight hour period to kill the remaining fish. By the time I had dragged the haul net through the first pond in my undies at eleven-o-clock at night, Garnet Prince and Bernard Charles had three pumps running high on fuel for six hours and the pond was only two thirds down in water level.
What we discovered in the net was even more disturbing than the fuel costs. Besides the odd trout, platannas and adult tench, there were thousands of tench fry that were less than three centimetres long. Right then and there we realised that the project had failed. The fuel costs of continuously running four trash pumps had depleted the funds sponsored by FOSAF and we speculated that the tench fry had a good chance to survive in small puddles after the ponds had been drained. It was clear that physical fish removal methods were simply too ambitious in this case and a future plan to use chemicals for tench removal came into play. The trout and tench adventures will continue in the year 2016 in which the first Jan Du Toit's River stocking attempt will hopefully take place by helicopter and the tench in the Du Kloof Lodge ponds will be removed by rotenone with the help of Dean Impson from Cape Nature, but that's a different story.
I believe that through trial and error over a couple of years we've come a few steps closer to long-standing dreams becoming true. The older I grow and the more I am involved with these kinds of projects, the better I understand the sayings: "Nothing comes easy in life", and: "Patience is a virtue". I guess you'll have to be patient and wait to read how things pan out in the next story.
Working with youth can probably be frustrating but do remember what you were like at the age of 16. I wouldn't want to go back there again, I prefer myself more now. Point is, the youngsters are the tomorrow, they need guidance.
Sixthly, well, if that's even a thing. The social guys and the competitive anglers need to realise that they are all part of the same thing. We are all addicts, sure we might enjoy different things but fishing is fishing boys. It's the tug that all gets us there. I think we need to all start crossing the divide and embracing.
Competitive anglers can be eco tripping lunatics but that said so can the social guys. We are all the same , lets not generalise. Tonsils are tonsils, idiots are a part of life regardless of the sport they might be involved in. Generalising is a dangerous thing to do. Do remember that all families have their problem members, fly fishing is no different.
That's what I like about the CPS, its probably the most integrated organisation in the country. The committee is well balanced with representatives from all walks of life. Be that Competitive anglers, social anglers, dry fly purists, to wet and wild surf bashers! They're all there and they're all working together toward a common goal. No individual is greater than the organisation that he or she represents. Our strength lies in Unity. When individuals become greater than the causes that they represent they lose the whole reason for doing what they actually do.
We are not going to change the world because we fish or love fishing but we can make it a little bit of a better place by being gentle of spirit and kind of heart and promoting this general spirit in everything we do. It's about how we do things. Fishing, well, for me at any rate is more about the people than the actual fish. I get as much joy seeing my pals catch a nice fish than actually doing it myself. Flyfishing is about family, well at least that's what it is for me!
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