Thursday, 23 May 2013

A River Somewhere - Part 1

Last year, four friends and myself went trout fishing. It was an arduous ordeal we thought we'd never return from - and we caught nothing to boot. You can read about it here.

This year, we returned - Part One of the epic adventure is below, Part Two to come.

It’s a little after three on a Wednesday afternoon. A constant, light drizzle falls outside, a chill in the air, a reminder of the imminent arrival of winter, even in the sub-tropical climes we find ourselves.

I sip on cold coffee, suck on a cigarette, smoke tendrils drifting laconically upward as I sit and think and wonder what to write, where to begin, how to adequately describe what’s happened, what it means, how to deal with the fallout. There are many questions which need answers, fears to be allayed, knowledge to be gleaned. Aside from the falling rain, it’s silent. Quiet. Perhaps a little too quiet.

I’ve been having flashbacks, the rain brings them on. I keep hearing the whistle… of rods whipping through the air. I keep hearing the crash and rumble… of a rock or two, falling down a small hill. I keep hearing the sizzling of flesh… fish flesh. Flashbacks. It all seems so long ago…


Friday morning, early, around 6:30 or so. People stoking the fire in the next room, chatting quietly, making coffee, rousing me from my slumber. The reason we came up here on the Thursday night, I thought, was so there was an opportunity to sleep in come Friday morning. Dads, it seems, even when they’re away from their families, don’t sleep in.

The Cabin
But it matters not once you’re up and about, for we are men, and men have within them a primal urge, an urge to stoke things, burn things, rattle things and talk about things, regardless of the hour, and so socks are put on and long pants, jackets and all that sort of guff, preparations are made for the day – sautéed mushrooms and the like, toast, eggs, fine coffee.

And so, my friends, we set off into the wilderness, where, under a cloudless blue sky, we seek to do battle, battle with one of the most fearsome predators the earth has ever known, devious and cunning, far more intelligent than you or I, the scourge of insects and assorted bugs everywhere, the sun glinting off rainbow scales, darting through pools of green/brown water with consummate ease, flaunting and flashing, that Rainbow Trout of my dreams – we come to do battle my fine, fishy friend, and we’ll see this year, if the curse remains.

The Team, from L-R: The Author, The Basista,
The Flyfisherman, The Editor. Pic by The Waterman
The God of Fishing can, in a few short words, suck on it, I think to myself, as we stroll leisurely (not too leisurely, we all know where we ended up this time last year) through cow paddocks, side-stepping old shit and thistles with not a thought for anything other than glory and whiskey in hipflasks, rods whipping rhythmically, back and forth in a never-ending quest to snag one of those fuckers – they’ll be mine this year, I think to myself, and chuckle, although not too loudly lest I spook the nearby cattle.

We end up on the edge of a precipice, which four of us digest with mounting disquiet and alarm, as The Flyfisherman (he of A River Nowhere fame) ties leads and flys, hands me a jar of live worms, who I quickly make friends with lest they team up with my quarry and attempt to lead me astray, as worms are wont to do, needless to say. We’re not going down the precipice, much to our delight, but instead, we will make our way upstream, back in the direction of our point of origin, the car sitting in the sun, warm and safe with no snakes, bugs or vertical slopes anywhere near it.

It Begins
And so it begins. We split up and scout locations, crisscrossing the stream, moving up ahead of each other, clambering and climbing, slipping and sliding, wet feet and pants, the sun beats down and we have a merry old time, we fishermen five, rods flashing in the sunlight, flys landing exactly where they’re needed, me with a spinner spearing live bait and flinging it forth into the chilly green yonder – just over there, by that tree.

After a while, The Flyfisherman strikes, bang, it’s on. We four, still novices all, are at once both elated and wary. Yes indeed, we have a Trout, which at worst, we can break up and have on a dry cracker, a la last year, but what about us? Will we too catch something? There are five of us, and so one Trout on its own just will not do. As such, we’re spurred to greater heights, greater acts of recklessness, greater risks are taken in our pursuit of not only the elusive Rainbow Trout, but also of our manliness. Surely, this time, one of us will catch something.

The Barista in action
Finally, perhaps a few hours later, one of us does, The Barista – it is a moment of elation, or no doubt it would have been, had we all been in the same place. Regardless, the curse has been broken! Oh, happy days etc, we are not completely useless at all, only a little bit. We now have two Trout, and The Dinner, is looking better by the minute.

I, meanwhile, have decided to decamp to a rock about a metre and a half off the bank, right on the edge of a particularly enticing pool – long, deep, dark green in the centre, it beckons to me with what seems to be siren song but is actually a cicada, and so I sit and roll a cigarette and peer menacingly into the greeny depths, trying to see something, but catching naught but warped glimpses of my own face as the surface ripples, propelled by the small waterfall slightly further along.

I finish smoking, dig around in my glass jar for something eye-catching, and I find a fighter – this little bugger does not want to be skewered, but as all good hunter/gatherers do, I skewer him anyway (after a few words of comfort – it’s the least I can do), and he wriggles and writhes like a man stuck in the embrace of the devil himself (praise the lord), fighting the good fight with slimy aplomb (can I get a witness). I win however, and cast him into the Pool Of Potential Glory, as I have named it whilst smoking and staring.

It’s about this time that things begin to get a little hazy, it’s this particular time that I flash back to the most, the ground seeming to tremble and shake, a bitter wind springing up, bending trees almost to the ground, lightning bolting from a clear, blue sky, as a BATTLE rages down below for I have hooked something, and not just something, but a veritable MONSTER (granted, a pretty stupid one), one whose lust for life is only matched by my sheer desperation to land him (or her, as it turned out), and so The Fight is on, and it is one of epic proportions.

The rod is bent almost double, the Trout thrashing like some sort of prehistoric beast caught in a battle to the death (which it is), and yet I am calm (I’m not) for an energy is flowing through me and I know exactly what to do in this situation (I don’t), and I feel sure that this curse has not only been broken, but SHATTERED as I know I will land this thing (I don’t know) and glory and that big trophy shall surely be mine.

The Bounty - 41cm of pure Rainbow Trout
(Guinness can for perspective)
To cut a long, rambly description short, I somehow manage to reef this behemoth onto the bank, where it continues to flap about as I look around to see if somebody, anybody, has witnessed what will surely go down as the most glorious battle in the history of glorious battles. No one has. Regardless, I need to slay my monster quickly, which I attempt to do – CENSORED. Death achieved, I wash off rivers of blood (not mine, surprisingly…), bag it, and soldier on to the next location, which happens to be just around the bend and we lunch and await the others and I bask in the sun and some glory.

The curse returns for the rest of the afternoon, and so no more Trout are bagged this day my friends, and we finally find the end of the stream, a little way down from where we’d parked the car, the sun sinking beyond the horizon, shuffling up the last bank, along the road, into the car and back to HQ where The Pig is hungry and needs stoking, so we oblige and are warmed for our efforts, saving our bounty for tomorrow’s dinner, opening beer, playing guitar, roast potatoes and homemade beans, hearty and content and so to bed.


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