The Lifer – Tony Kietzman

The Lifer – Tony Kietzman

Artist, botany enthusiast and veteran fly fishing guide, Tony Kietzman has caught more fish than most of us have had warm dinners. But, as he told The Mission in issue 1, these days it’s less about catching fish than it is about going fishing.

The first fish I can remember catching was a goby in a rock pool using a small crushed snail for bait. Much later Martin Davies introduced me to flyfishing at university.

I have called many places home. I was born in Northern Rhodesia, lived all over the Transvaal, Eastern Cape, Joburg, Cape Town and finally Rhodes. I suppose only Johannesburg and Rhodes really made me feel that I belong.

Rhodes is the kind of town where everyone knows your business sometimes before you do and then not necessarily the truth.

I have had many different jobs. Tourism guide, scientific field research assistant, trainee factory manager, teacher, then self-employed as a film editor, decorative painter, fly fishing and flower guide, artist and in environmental rehabilitation. I guess that I ended up teaching anyway.

At the moment, a typical day goes as follows: wake up…coffee, shower, emails/ water plants/ drawing – breakfast then more of the same or go fishing.

As a rabid botany enthusiast my favourite plants are the Wurmbeya eliator (pepper and salt flower), the Huttonea (an orchid species) and the diascia.

The thing I am probably most proud of is having made it this far. At thirty I would not have expected to last this long.

Perhaps the best party trick I have ever seen was someone having a case of wine in their car…when we ran out.

The best advice I have ever been given is to save money. Cash is freedom and I didn’t listen. Other good advice was:  If it doesn’t work for you change how you look at it.

For me mental pursuits seemed to come easier than physical ones. The more you put into anything the more comes back. With age comes confidence and it all seems relatively easy. Focus is the issue.

My artistic process is to find an image, then the concerns with problems encountered in previous work and how to overcome them become the challenge or inspiration. Then I let the picture take over, rather than the image I started with in mind.

What I get out of fly fishing has changed over the years. Fish have become far less important than the venues.  I feel that I don’t really need to catch but certainly need to go fishing.

If I could change one thing in fly fishing, it would be the environmental damage to the places we fish.

Looking back on my life, if there was one thing I would do differently it would be to be more financially responsible and save. And to travel more. I wish I had the confidence to follow art at an earlier life stage, I suppose that I had creative jobs anyway.

The last fish I caught was an early season Yellow in the Kraai.

Read more in issue 1. It’s free

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1 thought on “The Lifer – Tony Kietzman”

  1. Hi

    I will be in Rhodes for a month from 22 June and wondering if you might be able to take me on a stream for an afternoon., I prefer big, big fish , wet fly waters, off the beaten track. Price.? I will have my setter and shotgun as well
    and will look for some greywing

    Mark Anderson


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