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Nostalgic Wanderings (Two)

by Roger Haskett

A Fishing Interlude, Gamtoose River, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Where to start? Around 1980, I joined Pick 'n Pay supermarkets and was given their branch in Commercial Road, Port Elizabeth, as a butchery manager.  Seeing as I had come down from the Transvaal, a management meeting was called, and I was introduced to the other three managers in the area.  After a few canapes and many Castle lagers, the chat came round to the local scene and fishing in general.

Well, fishing or caving, I don't care which.  So there! I hit it off with the guys straight away, and was immediately drawn into this crazy eastern Cape angling scene.  It's mad down there.  Everybody goes; it's a way of life, everyone's hooked!   Except.

Two of the blokes, one from the Hypermarket, who shall remain nameless.  He liked to stray away from home, so the two times he came with us he brought his wife along (clever bugger he were).  He used to throw his line in with no bait on, so, obviously he never caught anything.  Well, his Misses soon got bored with that and stopped coming.  Guess what?  So did he. Dirty swine!

The other bloke, Marc Jackson, he just reckoned fishing was a waste of time.  However, myself, Ted Rogers and Colin Smith (a guy from a rival firm) palled up together and went fishing most weekends.  We used to take the families, girlfriends and the Bar Be Que and have a whale of a time.

Now Jacko, he got to thinking that he was missing out, so he started creeping around, asking silly questions.  Like; How much did a rod cost?  Etc., Well, we kept him on a string for a bit, and then one day, we asked him if he would like to come with us?  This, of course, was what he was after.

The following weekend we had organised a little competition with one of the local Angling Clubs, so we invited him along.  He was made up like a dog with the proverbial two .... !  We had arranged to meet this other club in Patensie, at 6 am where we would draw lots for where we were going to fish.  We had fished the Gamtoose up there many times before, but never in the section which we drew that day.  So, we didn't know that stretch (very profound Roger).  However, nary a daunt, we are going to give it our best shot. But first, we have got to get Jacko tackled up.  So we find him a rod and reel, tie some hooks on - you are allowed to fish with two hooks in S.A., bait him up and cast his line in the river for him.

Now think to yourself, it's 6.30 in the morning, just getting light.  There is a miasma rising from the water and it's still quite chilly. We've drawn a small swim where the four of us can only just fit along the bank.  Either side of us are banks of bulrushes and tall reeds.  Jacko's got a line in the water and the rest of us are turned away on the bank tackling up.

All of a sudden the silence is broken.  This first time bloody fisherman, Jackson, has hooked into a monster Carp.  Within minutes of being at the river, this "Groot Vis" is trekking upriver like an express train, Jackson's screaming his head off, and the fish is heading into our side of the bank about forty yards up stream.  Clever Dick Smith tells him," Hey Jacko, you are going to lose that fish in the reeds if you don't get in the river and play it!"  So Jacko jumps in!  Now here's the punch line - nobody told us that the river was eighteen feet deep here. When we looked around, all we could see was the tip of Jacko's rod and his cap floating on the surface, Ho! Ho! Ho! He could have drowned, but we couldn't help him, we were laughing too much.

What a baptism!  He eventually managed to get himself into shallower water and landed a fine 12 lb. Common Carp.  Shame, the poor blokes been hooked ever since!

Hope someone will find this story amusing, Roger Haskett

Roger Haskett with a large Common Carp