One of South African fly fishing’s most unassuming characters, Jannie Visser is a grunter-on-the-sand ninja par excellence, the “J” in JAM fly and, like most of us, a working man with deadlines, school runs, and a life vs work balance to contend with. He’s also Issue 41’s Lifer.
The first fish I remember catching was a goby in Gordon’s Bay when I was around four years old. We used to go there every March/April holiday. My dad would take me along when he went rock and surf fishing. I always kept busy in the rock pools fishing for them.
My home waters are the Strand reefs. It is a few minutes from home. When conditions are right I can get in a good session, in a few hours. I have even caught a couple of kob during my lunch break. Of course if the weather is nice, there are great evening sessions. It is really a special place and can be on fire if conditions are right. It amazes me that the fishing can still be good with all the pressure it gets in the middle of suburbia.
“I left my previous go-to rig – a TFO with a Shilton reel – on the sidewalk at Strand”
At the moment my go-to setup for the reefs it is an old Stealth X-treme 10-weight with a Stealth large arbor reel and an intermediate line. I left my previous go-to rig – a TFO with a Shilton reel – on the sidewalk at Strand only to realise that I did not pack it when I got home. Needless to say it was gone by the time I got back to look for it. I then started using my old Stealth setup again, which works perfectly fine. A friend bought back my setup from a local a few weeks later. But by then I had decided the old setup works just as well and it will not be a big issue if it gets damaged or dunked under water.
The best advice I have ever been given is, never leave fish to find fish.
I have caught many satisfying fish. One I can mention is the bellman I caught after pursuing the same fish for more than an hour. Seeing it eat the fly after presenting that same fly hundreds of times on its nose was great.
The biggest adventure I’ve ever been on was two years ago. I took the family on a two-month road trip up through Transkei, Drakensberg, Augrabies, West Coast, and back. It was daunting to just go with no planning, worrying about the kids’ safety and where we will sleep each night. Luckily I have a wonderful wife who also enjoys the outdoors and is more spontaneous than me. She just organised where we were going to stay and the direction we were going on the road. We have a spectacular country with so much more to explore.
If I could change one thing in fly fishing, it would be the perception that expensive gear and destinations are what you should aim for to get the most enjoyment out of the sport. We have some of the best fishing right on our doorstep. It just takes a little time and effort to figure it out. And it can be enjoyed with any cheap setup.
Read Jannie’s full lifer in The Mission Issue 41 below. It’s free!