“Some fish are meant to come to hand, while some seem doomed from the second the hook up happens. My fish was a bit of both.  The swing had finished and I’d begun to retrieve to set my next cast in the lie. I felt a rock or two on the fly, and, not completely concentrating, a strike unlike anything I’ve had in freshwater happened.  You’ll often hear the, “It almost pulled the rod out my hand,” story, but this one almost did. I was looking back at guide Justin Rollinson while feeling an imperfection in my rod’s cork handle when it took, but it was that violent. The fly line jumped up, and immediately two loops wrapped around the stowed sneaker motor. I’ve learnt to focus only on the tangle in a situation like this and I got the last loop off with seconds to spare. The run just never stopped, and what seemed like a hundred metres of backing screamed off the reel. I checked tension on the Fortuna X1. It was bloody tight. This was trouble. I looked down and noticed that a loop had also jumped on the backing.

‘Oh god, no’, I thought, ‘Not now’.”

Peter Coetzee on the fish of the trip (and a lifetime) on a recent drift down the Orange river with Mavungana Flyfishing. Read the full story for free in issue 14 of The Mission.