Flycastaway guide Brendan Becker’s grandfather introduced him to fly fishing in the trout dams of Machadodorp. Years later, even though the old man is gone, for Brendan it still feels like he is there.
I felt it. I felt that connection that I had many moons ago. My late grandfather, Bringe, was there watching me work, as he did on our last trip together.
I’ve always felt that the world works in big wheels, cosmic revolutions which bring you full circle. Whether it does, or it’s just easier to assume it does, will always be a good start for a chat around the campfire or on the edges of a flat waiting for the tide to push.
This particular wheel started to turn when I was 12. My grandfather decided it was time that myself and my brother needed a trip into the wild, to catch fish and to get away from it all.
As we headed out to Machadodorp and carried on into the Sappi plantations towards a syndicated farm with five fishable dams filled with rainbow trout, I was filled with uncontrollable excitement. After my grandfather set up the rods, I was handed a fibreglass AFTMA-rated 6/7 with a thick sinking line and a fat Mrs Simpson attached with weed whacker gut.
I caught blow all. In fact, I only managed to catch fish trolling for the first week or grabbing the rod out of my grandfather’s hands once he had hooked up. But there, far away from the sports-driven, premier boys’ school I attended and its privileged lifestyle, I found solace on the water. That was it for me. I was done searching. The path that I’ve followed ever since, started that day.
My grandfather was entitled to four weeks fishing a year on the farm, so the next years were spent organising fishing trips around my school holidays. Seeing that the bug had bitten me, after the second trip my grandfather took me to Mia’s in Benoni to make this endeavour legitimate. He picked up a couple of rods, whipped them back and forth and remarked how quick the new graphite was. We bought my set up and I was on cloud nine. I vividly remember practicing my casting into the pool after cricket or hockey practice, before the sun went down. This was the time for fly fishing.
My grandfather was my role model, a charismatic man whom I only ever got angry with once, when he brought his new girlfriend onto the scene. A traveling comedian until the day he died, he had the most unique act on the circuit. He would be hired by events to gatecrash the party in his very stinky hobo get up, acting drunk and loudly proclaiming he wanted to sing one song. The organisers would play along for the reactions of the attendees and once on stage, he would whip out his harmonica and belt out the golden oldies, mixing in a couple of one liners and always finishing it all off with Frank Sinatra’s My Way.
For the rest of this story, get stuck into issue 25 below. As always, it’s free.