Dr Seuss may as well have been referring to Luke Pannell in Oh, the Places You’ll Go, because, from working in Guanaja, Honduras, with Fish 4 Change, to heading operations for X-Factor on the African continent (Sudan, Orange River and beyond), the man is racking up experiences and memories at a rate of knots. He stepped up to the plate as our High Fives guide profile in issue 31 of The Mission.

5 fishing-connected items you don’t leave home without before making a mission?

  1. Leatherman Wave +. It gets more use than any of my fishing tackle, as a guide.
  2. A camera, either my mirrorless or film body. I like to document my time fishing with friends.
  3. A Garmin Inreach Explorer +. Peace of mind for those solo missions or multi-day trips without signal.
  4. Polarized Sunglasses. I am obsessed with my Bajios – insanely light, industry leading blue light reduction and making waves with their low-environmental impact business model. They are the future.
  5. A lucky hat! Hats have mojo and good mojo results in better fishing, it’s science.

“Hats have mojo and good mojo results in better fishing, it’s science.”

5 artists to listen to while on a road trip?

  1. Skepta.
  2. Dave.
  3. Mac Miller.
  4. Slowthai.
  5. Jungle.

Yellow a l’Orange

5 things you are loving right now?

  1. Spotify. Their algorithms are no joke.
  2. Patagonia Black Hole packing cells.
  3. Nikon F-100 film camera. it uses the same lens mount as modern Nikon DSLR cameras with autofocus. I’ve really been enjoying playing with film.
  4. The Romoss Zeus power bank.  it could jump start your car.
  5. Narcos Mexico on Netflix.

“Lower Orange River. Hands down the best fishery I’ve seen in South Africa.”

5 indispensable flies for saltwater?

  1. Tan Alphlexo crab
  2. EP Spawning Shrimp
  3. Crazy Charlie – the saltwater PTN
  4. NYAP
  5. Brush fly

“Lower Orange River. Hands down the best fishery I’ve seen in South Africa.”

5 favourite fly-fishing destinations across South Africa/ Africa?

  1. The Cape streams. Effort is usually rewarded here and some amazing dry fly fishing can be had throughout the Cape mountains.
  2. Lower Orange River. Hands down the best fishery I’ve seen in South Africa. The stretch we guide on currently has areas that will make you eat your heart out.
  3. The Bushman’s River in KZN blew my mind the first time I fished it. Having fished mainly on the Cape rivers, to see that many brown trout was insane.
  4. Knysna and surrounds for grunter. They are the devil reincarnated.
  5. The Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan.

5 indispensable flies for freshwater?

  1. A copper beaded PTN.
  2. Olive Minky
  3. Wooly Bugger
  4. CDC and Elk
  5. A game changer
Luke Pannell with a milkfish on the Nubian Flats of Sudan

Luke Pannell with a milkfish on the Nubian Flats of Sudan

5 favourite fly-fishing destinations globally?

  1. Guanaja, Honduras. Schools of sometimes up to 40 permit cruising in deeper water close to turtle grass flats…
  2. Southern Red Sea, Sudan. Countless shots at tailing triggerfish and my first encounters with big GT on flats.
  3. Lower Orange River, South Africa. It is simply a world class fishery that, at times, can feel like you are fishing in an aquarium.
  4. The San Juan River in New Mexico. There was something really satisfying about throwing bobber rigs into deep slow runs and hooking into monster wild brown trout. Americans seem completely spoiled when it comes to trout fishing.
  5. Farquhar in the Seychelles.  A destination I never thought I would see, let alone fish!

“Coming down with Covid-19 while in Southern Sudan was difficult. Taking a power-nap on top of volcanic rock instead of hunting GT’s and triggerfish still haunts me.”

5 of the most difficult guiding/teaching experiences so far?

  1. An electrical fire on an inflatable raft that burned through a pontoon in seven different places while in the middle of a 7km pool. We learned a lot about wire capacity that day.
  2. Medical evacs are never fun. Picture gaping wounds and amoebic dysentery…
  3. Racist/bigot clients. I find it difficult keeping my own personal views to myself, especially while working in the service industry.
  4. Coming down with Covid-19 while in Southern Sudan. Taking a power-nap on top of volcanic rock instead of hunting GT’s and triggerfish still haunts me.
  5. Did I mention I had a boat on fire?

5 of the best things you have picked up from guiding?

  1. I was never shy but guiding has made me more assured of who I am and what I believe.
  2. Guiding can be frustrating – a service industry with a lot of uncontrollable variables and most of the time you are running on fumes. It has definitely taught me how to control my emotions.
  3. Guiding continuously tests your problem-solving capabilities.
  4. A thick skin. You need to have a sense of humour and not take yourself too seriously.
  5. The people I have worked with and guided over the years that have become friends. Being around like-minded people is one of the biggest highlights of the job.

Get the rest of Luke’s Q&A and a whole lot more in issue 31 of The Mission below. As always, it’s free.