“We’d come to target a fish that holds a much revered place in South African saltwater fly-fishing lore. The Maputaland GT (Caranx ignoblis) is something of a unicorn. To bring a good one, 100cm plus, to hand from shore in South Africa is holy grail stuff, the tales of which are whispered in hushed tones and linked to names like the late, great Paul Weingartz, Arno Van Der Nest and Ben Pretorius. More recently it has dominated the attentions of Peter Coetzee (no relation to Andy) and the brothers Kyle, among others. The ‘100 Club’ – that’s where you want your name.
Just a degree or three colder than the sea, the air was heady with that very particular musty brine you encounter only on a tropical reef at dawn. ‘In my death file,’ Andy mused, scrunching his sun-weathered face to peer past me over the reef toward where the sun was peaking, ‘It says that when I die I get cremated. And, on a spring high tide – which is always at 16:30 in the afternoon – my ashes get scattered right here.’
The irony was not lost on me. Here was a man nearly twice my age talking about death, while I was sucking hard to get my breath back while my heart was still pounding at north of 160 bpm. I just nodded.
‘Everyone present – those who are going to remember me – will have a hit of warm Jack Daniels … ‘cos that’s just how you do it here.’
With that Andy flung a worn kit belt around his waist, strapped on the cheap washing basket (the only surf-zone stripping basket in his book) and set off with a bow-legged gait toward the reef edge to punch his south-paw casts out at those hallowed brutes he’s brawled with so many times over the years.”