I squint across the bay into the predawn gloom, failing to see what the weather is going to do. My specs are inside on the kitchen table. I always struggle to focus through them before the first cup of coffee.

Coffee… The cup is no longer scalding but steam continues to rise. It’s chilly out and it’s warming my hands. No, it is properly fucking cold. The breeze has teeth, biting into my left cheek, which means it is a westerly. Offshore. The forecast is calling for it to swing east later with a jump in air pressure. For it to be partly cloudy and warm…well, ‘ish.’ Beautiful.

I have garrick on the brain. Could there be something moving along the estuary drop-offs on the push.

Could there possibly be?

It’s just before 7 and it’s still too dark for my near-sighted eyes. Also that wind keeps gnawing. It’s June. Winter to be sure. What are the chances of getting into a fish?

Does it really matter?

Earlier this week we moved to lockdown Level 3 and Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs, Barbara Creecy, became the hero of all recreational anglers when she announced that ‘all fishing, including recreational fishing, is permitted with the exception of charter fishing.’

Even a little rat from the Riviera would make for a great 7WT distraction right now.

*(Yes, as I write this I’m well aware that it has yet to be gazetted, but we live in hope. Eternal)

Effective immediately, after that press release went out our season of our discontent was in the past.

Now, ‘could-haves’ don’t count, but what a season it could’ve been. What an autumn it was. I’m pretty sure if you had to go back on the records it would be one of the most epic (in terms of fishing conditions) in recent memory. Or maybe that is just the way it felt because we weren’t able to make use of those balmy streaks.

Autumn is leerie time here in the Garden Route and I’m a fan. No, more than that, garrick is the first fish I ever caught on a fly and to this day it remains a most treasured target.

I’ve been known to take a work call under my hood wading knee deep on an estuary flat fishing for them on my favourite tide (the early flood on the last day of a frontal system). I’ve been known to take the ‘sent from iPhone’ off the bottom of emails as the tide surges over the bank so it looks like it was sent from my home office about 15kms away. Don’t tell my clients. Actually, do. Those sessions didn’t make me less productive, as writer, quite the opposite.

That, I’ve realised that during these long lockdown days. I’ve also come to recognise that I used to take those ‘in-between-life’ sessions – where my boys are at school and work is under control – for granted. Very much so. Lucky fucker. I’d even get grumpy when I had a bad session…

Now, this could easily script along wildly melodramatic lines, but bare with me. I tried to deal with the psychological effects of lockdown by taking it one day at a time. No expectations….

Just flow, try stay productive and keep the family smiling as much as possible. All science, medicine and conspiracy theories aside, the introspection hurt me. The slap of all those carefree ‘taken-for-granted’ sessions hit hard.

I thought of my last session: Gourits with good mate and big wave pro surfer, Frank Solomon. We blanked, but the beers were cold and the sunset gold. What if that was my very last session ever? Would I have thrown a few more casts? Gone through one more fly change? Had another beer with Frankie talking about how he was planning to ask his girl (the reason why he was in my valley anyway) to marry him.

Shit yeah. No expectations? Perhaps that should read, NO REGRETS.

More coffee, some work and then off to see about those garrick on this winter’s day.

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