At a remote, secret spot, LeRoy Botha and Jazz Kuschke make a meal of their fishing. And learn something in the process… Or do they?

Life of pie

“You ready for that pie?”

LeRoy is not a man who feeds all too often. He’s more of a nibbler, really, preferring to graze like a tiny red fin minnow rather than inhale anything edible as a four-pound largemouth bass would. When he does snack, he usually keeps it fairly carb and gluten-free. The man rolls like this even on full-day treks. I’m kind of the opposite. I guess it’s a throwback to my previous life as a marathon cyclist — eat often, drink all the time.
“Pepper steak … it’s proper,” I offered, mouth half full, pastry flakes dusting my goatee and bits of gooey pie-gunk sticking to the corner of my mouth. I’d packed my usual protein bars and energy gels. Hydrated on electrolyte mix.
Right then, this ‘real’ lunch felt like something beyond indulgent though. I couldn’t help but marvel at the flavours. It was as if an avant-garde, punk rocker of a young open-flame chef had prepared a Madagascan pepper corn-crusted fillet cooked to just past rare and paired it with twice-roasted rosemary potato wedges. All I needed was a five-year-old Malbec and I was in a culinary utopia.
After seven long hours in the baking valley heat, with 10 kilometres in the legs and at least a baker’s dozen bass in the books, LeRoy couldn’t resist either.

“I need that,” came his reply, eyes still fixed on the water after yet another cast off the point. “I need that right now,” he reeled up and sauntered over to where I was lounging on the bank.

Now, while they tasted as though they’d been served in a Michelin Star establishment the pies in question were a mushy, squashed version of their former self. Roadkill even. Sal (my way-too-kind-hearted, long-suffering wife) had brought them from a local deli the previous day – sustenance enough to fuel our climb out of the deep valley. She’d given them to me the night before as I was counting out my energy bars and filling my hydration bladder. She’d had enough of the dizzying tales of hunger and dehydration from out of the valley. From our stories of past sojourns, she knew the risks and she’d accounted that a pie each would provide enough complex carbs and protein to get us out while packing small in my backpack.

The valley is close enough to home that you can sleep in your own bed and safely consume a pie purchased the previous day, but remote enough that you’re going to burn a good few litres of diesel and test your bakkie’s suspension on the way in. There’s no cellphone reception except on the tallest ridges and the consequences if you get hurt would require a helicopter.

It’s the kind of place where leopards aren’t shy and the kudu bulls that roam the forested gulleys are three turns to the horn. The only way from where you leave the vehicle to the water is by the game trails they’ve trod.

Only those who know, are allowed to go and the precious few who do, guard the secret closely enough that those kudus will die of old age.

But back to the pie. The setting made it a feast. And the prelude. Not the item. Just before dining, I had just landed (in quick succession), a beautiful smallie and a largemouth on a topwater frog creation which LeRoy had gifted me. It looked good enough to auction rather than to be lobbed in the middle of the blazing day. But such was the quality of the day. And those are the kinds of games you can play once you’ve stopped counting, satiated on the number and quality of the fish and the absolute privilege of walking the valley.

The day didn’t start that well though. At least not for me. The first hour or so was about as good as spending half the night hugging the toilet after a bad garage pie.
LeRoy pics up the story before redemption came … read his words in issue 39. Remember, it’s FREE!


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