STRAIGHTSTICK

STRAIGHTSTICK

You know when a guy has a fishing middle name like Marius “Straightstick” Rousseau, that he’s walked the walk. Whether it was targeting largemouth yellowfish on the Vaal or his new local waters in the Eastern Cape where he targets grunter and steenbras, in our eyes, Marius is the very definition of a fly-fishing lifer.

 

The first fish I remember catching was when I was about three years old. I was fishing with my grandfather at Second Beach lagoon near Port St Johns. I reeled in a pufferfish. I subsequently caught some decent blue kurper and mullet in the same estuary.

As I am living 200m from the beach in Cape St Francis, if the weather permits, a typical day will start with fishing and afterwards some gardening and/or house chores. It might involve some more fishing in the afternoon and evening. That is, when I am not hosting a fly-fishing trip to the Maldives or elsewhere and then it is, obviously, just fly fishing.

I happen to be blessed with some great rivers and estuaries near where I live. There I can fish for grunter, leeries and steenbras and other species on a regular basis. I also do a lot of spinning for yellowtail and elf, kob and katonkel and leervis in the sea. If conditions are favourable I might even find myself on the “darkest dark side” fishing for steenbras, elf and kob on bait in the surf.

 

My first fish on fly was a yellowfish. Later on that same year, 1989, I caught some trout at Swartwater Dam in Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State (also known as QwaQwa) and towards the end of the year I caught some small salt water fish at Kosi Bay including two decent greenspot kingies. Since then it has been impossible for me to choose between fresh and saltwater fly fishing, both have their own merits and I find both disciplines exciting, stimulating and challenging.

For local saltwater estuary fishing I favour my old TFO BVK 8-weights and for tropical venues I use my 9- and 12-weight G Loomis NRX and NRX+. For largemouth yellows I prefer the 8-weights and for smallmouth yellows and trout, my trusty old 5-weight Sage TCR and 6-weight Sage ONE. I own a 3-weight rod but I have never really ventured into the micro-fish realm. It will come out of the closet should I visit the small streams around Barkly East again.

 

 

In the past, suffering from ADD, I told myself it was not worth the time and effort to fish for grunter and rather to focus on more aggressive species. Of late I have changed my mind and found pursuing them is worth the effort. Steenies and grunter will probably make me end up in a lunatic asylum, but what the heck!

The last fish I caught was a unicorn fish, taken off the back of the boat while some friends were snorkelling in the Maldives during my trip in February 2023.

 

If I could change anything in fly fishing it would be to remove the stigma of exclusivity and status that is manifest in the exorbitant pricing of fly-fishing equipment. This has a negative impact and hampers the growth of the sport, especially in the lower income groups. A fly line costing more than R2 000 and top-end fly rods selling for more than R21 000 these days is ludicrous, notwithstanding the R/$ exchange rate.

 

Read the rest of Marius’s lifer in issue 39. It’s free bozo!

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