What’s the saltwater equivalent of a trout bum? Whatever it is, Henkie Altena of Karoolskraal Fly Fishing Camp, a living, walking legend of the Karoo and Overberg fly fishing scenes fit the description. We caught up with him for our issue 18 Lifer profile.

The first fish I can remember catching on fly, was a garrick I caught at Kleinbrak River. Being from the Karoo the only permanent source of water I knew was the ocean, so it was only logical that I started out fly fishing the salt.

The first paying job I had was as a national servicemen in the army. Since then I’ve been a technician at an optometrist (unqualified), I worked for a diamond prospecting company finding diamonds, did logistics for a 4×4 adventure company operating in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and started both Fly dot Fish and the Karoolskraal Fly Fishing Camp.

I was born and bred in Beaufort West in the Karoo. I’ve called Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn, and now Witsand home.

The most satisfying fish I ever caught was at Nuweland, the mud flat in front of camp. The sun was setting behind Potjiesberg, there was no wind. It was just a perfect evening. There were no signs of grunter –  no tails, no pancakes. I was just fly fishing and enjoying nature, when a grunter rose and ate my Agha fly. I soon realized that it was a big fish. The usual panic set in, knot failure, hook slip, did I turn off the stove? Would my 4.5kg tippet hold? Luckily everything worked out. The size of that tail as it swam off is etched in my mind forever.

 

For the rest of Henkie’s Lifer profile, get stuck in to issue 18 of The Mission below.