“Through the braided channel meanders
Through the windfall and low-down timbers,
Oh, I pray to reach the tail waters….”
Admin is not my favorite part of the job, and as financial year end deadlines is creeping closer, I am frantically trying to match slips to bank statements. (Shit, I did not realize we bought a tyre shop in Kakamas!) As I am doing this, I find myself re-living some of the standout moments of 2020. And what a year it was….. I don’t remember that when me and Jacques decided on a tag line for Hunter Fisher, this is what we had in mind, but looking back at 2020, I have to admit – “ It was an experience “
07/01/2020 – Kaap Agri Namibia – Dixon battery – R2249,00
Our UK agent and a couple joined us for a trip in the Richtersveld, and yes, we did warn them that we might probably be looking at some serious temperatures. Somehow, we were blessed with perfect camping weather. Temperatures were reasonable during the day, and every evening the breeze from the West Coast would cool things down so much that we sat around the fire with blankets. And the fishing was on! These were well travelled clients and fished bucket list destinations all over the world. They are real explorers, and rarely fish travel to the same destination twice. It was an eyeopener when they said that of all the destinations they fished, if there is one trip they would like to do again, it was this one. I came to realize, on what an amazing fishery we as South African’s have access to, and as long as we as operators and guides take our jobs serious, we actually have the opportunity to compete with some of the best destinations in the world.
With a great start to 2020 we returned to Douglas for our annual father and son trip, and preparation for the March/April season in the Richtersveld.
08/03/2020 – Spar Aussenkehr – Ice- R1728,00
WTF! Almost R1800 for ICE? ………Oh yes…..
In all fairness, we were pre warned. After making sure all the medical kit was up to date, satt phone was fully charged, evacuation plan communicated between guides and camp staff, extra boat organized for the beers, we eventually received our 3rd group somewhere on the road between Noordoewer and Aussenkehr. I was warned, these guys work hard, play hard and fish hard.
During this week, I came to realize again what binds us together as fly fisherman. Over the years these guys met each other on fishing trips, and with time they formed a tight knit group that get together for their annual fishing trip. It was such a pleasure to get to know them all. Although I will not deny that there were some crazy moments, like when a large cobra decided one of the boats was an island, everybody stayed calm, and no beer was wasted. For the record, what happens in camp, stays in camp, so I will not use names, but we did add some great pictures of big fish in the gallery.
27/03/2020 – Caltex Oranjemund – Diesel – R867,00
During our guides week off, exploring the river from Aussenkehr to the coast, we hit a spot where we had some reception. It is not that we did not hear about this “virus” causing some problems in the world community, but in the week we were on the river, things got crazy very fast. We were advised that if we do not get out of Namibia in the next 24 hours, we might get locked in for the next month. So, like sane people we organized with the lodge to store our equipment for the month of lockdown and got out of there. On our way back to Douglas, we started communicating with clients, postponing trips, and all together getting things organized to return in May. Just a month they said, better safe than sorry. Yeah…
16/07/2020 – Freddy Hirsch – Spices and Casings – R2437,28
Yeah…..a month they said. What do you do if government imposed lockdowns keep one from earning a living. You do what any good “boerseun” would do. You take out the rifle, reload copious amounts of ammo, and go hunting. With lockdown also having a negative effect on the hunting industry, we took hands with some friends in the Douglas area, and got working making biltong and dry wors. As we got the meat for a good price, we were able to produce at a very good price, and with the help from many of you reading this letter, we managed to create some form of income to help us through the worst of this stage of 2020. For both of my and Jacques sons it also created an opportunity to get some real hunting done, not just honing their skills in the bush, but getting to learn how to respect the animal all the way to the table. Notwithstanding the uncertainty and challenges this period provided, there was some great life lessons learned and relationship building between us and our sons, that can not be replaced by “better” times. Again, to all of you who supported us during this time, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
26/09/2020 – Kakamas Fitment Centre – Tyres – R4145,00
Getting from where we hunted, to running our third trip of 10 in the Kakamas area under Augrabies, is a newsletter on its own. But here we are, getting 2 new tyres, and getting ready for group no.4. You can read more about the stretch we are running in our 2021 package as we decided to stay here, and not just because of crossing the border to Namibia still being an uncertainty. Both me and Jacques agree, that the next record Largie on fly will be coming out here!
13/12/2020 – Caltex Van Der Kloof – Fuel – R920,00
To end of we met some clients at Van der Kloof, for a few days of guiding. What an amazing fishery this is. The conditions played along, and the dry fly fishing for Smallies was out of this world. (please don’t shoot me, but I would beg to say – better than Sterkies) With a much better understanding of Largies on fly, and some new flies and tactics, we also managed to regularly get these clients into some real Loch Dragons. We will be running trips and guiding there from 15 November – 15 December 2022, and then again from 15 January – 15 February 2022. Watch this space.
To end off this newsletter, we would like to express our gratitude to all that supported us during 2020. We would also like to extend our good wishes to those of you who still find themselves “in the mist of crashing cascades” or negotiating “the windfall and low down timbers”. As Chuck Ragan hints to in his song “Long Water” – All rivers end in the sea, in between we can enjoy the ride, pull off in a eddy for a rest, and experience the flow.
Feet foreword, bum up, grab the guardrail, we will catch you in the tailwater.
Etienne and Jacques