Chasing the elusive labeobarbus grand slam, Leonard Flemming discovered he had missed his mark when the chiselmouth goal posts were moved.

“There are a few things that need to be achieved by a fly fisherman in South Africa before a date with the Grim Reaper (or the day you emigrate). Here’s hoping death comes first, because who wants to leave this beautiful country? One of those goals is to become a member of that “golden club,” anglers who have caught all nine yellowfishes in our country in nine days. Yes, that means travelling to at least four provinces in just over a week to tick off largemouth and smallmouth yellowfish, largescale and smallscale yellowfish, papermouth*, Natal scaly, Clanwilliam yellowfish, sawfin* and witvis*.

Very few anglers have acquired that ‘9-yellows-in-9-days’ status and, obviously,  it is also not something that one could just pull off on the first try … or you’d be extremely lucky if you did. As with all cyprinids, catching yellows is weather-dependent, and I’m sure all largie fanatics will know what I mean when I say these fish can have lock jaw for days on end in foul weather. So not only do you need to know what you are doing, but the planets need to align and gift you nine days of sunshine in a country that is hormonal when it comes to sneaky cold fronts.

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However, my dream, to achieve this VIP ranking, shared, I believe, with many other yellowfish anglers, was chiselled to pieces a few weeks ago by an aquatic scientist, Dr. Gordon O’Brien.  I was intrigued by our chiselmouth species, because the Incomatie chiselmouth (formerly known as Varicorhinus nelspruitensi) had recently been placed with the true yellowfishes (genus Labeobarbus). Its new name is Labeobarbus nelspruitensi). That meant that a tenth yellowfish had been added to the nine already on the tick list. The problem is there’s more than one chiselmouth …”

For the rest of Leonard’s lament, check out issue 23 of The Mission for free, below:


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