The alien in­side us cries to be freed

Daily Dispatch - - News -


No, I am not talk­ing about alien-na­tion, though I re­ally could ... I am talk­ing about a “gi­ant green dirt bin”, a fish ac­tu­ally. The alien.

To­day we tot­ter over a road bar­rier as cars swoosh by ag­gres­sively. We de­scend into an alien hell of shizen­hauzen-sharp thorny tree trunks, steep, crumbly sabunga. The Pike and I, swing­ing and clonk­ing King Tut, our ca­noe, through the mud towards the river.

I get in, as ever, “like Lady Di”, and we roll and punch through the pa­pyrus into seethrough glass. A tract that is dark, green­blue, dap­pled with yellow, so mys­te­ri­ous I just want to dive in.

But no. We are on the hunt for the “mon­ster”, the Florida Strain Large­mouth Bass. It’s also known as Mi­cropterus salmoides flori­danus.

That last bit is how I feel at the end of the day when I lift my flori­danus out of King Tut and feel the curse of the ring.

So we glide through this wa­ter­course, the up­per reaches of a dam which has old trees pok­ing out at the sky. Alien gums killed off by the creep­ing lake.

Be­tween us we have one rub­ber tad­pole. I knot up and cast it to the back. We glide.

Bang! Like a ri­fle re­coil. I’m on, there’s a splash, Nick is ex­cited, then sploof. Si­lence. I reel in. The line sim­ply ends. No rub­ber tad­pole. Just the squig­gly bit where the knot un­rav­elled.

Alien­ation. The Pike sucks up air and words and is diplo­mat­i­cally pas­sive ag­gres­sive.

We have other rub­ber toys with hooks, and he gets it in his head that he will prove that MS flori­danus is such a ram­pant thug, it will tear into even an in­nocu­ous May­nard’s orig­i­nal wine gum (est. 1909), the yellow oval shape.

On the dam wall, the mid­day sun ham­mers me into an un­fo­cused, sleepy state. What a codger. Bam! The May­nards ac­tu­ally works! Two hip young dudes ar­rive and start hav­ing a piss­ing con­test over who can catch more. They are fun, but make us feel tired and jaded. We sneak away up the sides of this vast, de­li­cious, wind-rip­pled stretch of fresh, fresh wa­ter.

Sheez it gets go­ing. But the f-anuses are too small to fil­let. We set off home­wards. The damn sum­mer sun tilts and re­leases the mel­low yellow.

We are back in the still back­wa­ters, where the only noise is birds, pid­dling across din­ner plate-sized leaves with lilies which thrust ivory and pink flow­ers into the sky.

Nick eases us into a side al­ley, a se­cre­tive grove lush with un­der­wa­ter creeper and stumps. An ob­sta­cle course, but some­one is twist­ing my arm, be­cause the casts are ploop­ing the plas­tic thingy with its hook just where I want them, close to the bank.

There is a woes whoosh in the far cor­ner. Yoh! How hard do these bass ham­mer the lure? This thing is up on it’s tail and freak­ing out across the sur­face. Pure fury. In and out we go around the sticks, through the weed, un­til it is fi­nally wrenched into the boat.

Nick holds it up - it’s not a gi­ant dust­bin, it’s more like the back of a BCM waste com­pactor. But much pret­tier.

We let it go. Fish are fun to­day, not food. It’s still thrilling, but we hear the call of the wild African craft beer and it’s time to head off to Emer­ald Vale Brew­ery.

And then we hear an­other call, and see only a few me­tres away an African fish ea­gle, Hali­aee­tus vo­cifer (sea ea­gle). Hu­mans are not as threat­en­ing in a ca­noe. It’s in­cred­i­ble to see how colour­ful its plumage is up close, not just brown and white. It wears a cloak of raked-back, shim­mer­ing rose-red and rus­set feath­ers, and has a snowy chest topped with a bright yellow hook and dag­ger eyes.

We are dumb­struck. It does not fly, we try not to twitch.

And then Nick lets out a rau­cous whis­tle, his at­tempt at mimicry. I sigh. It will go.

Nope. It lifts its head and lets out a cur­dling, crys­tal cry. We are stunned.

Nick does it a few times, and there it comes back, call and re­ply.

Later we slake out thirst from a spread of taster glasses brim­ming with Chris Heaton’s ales. I don’t tell the friendly brew­mas­ter that the very dark one is like the earthy umqom­bothi, which I love, through to the light and frisky pale ale.

Nick looks up, says he’s never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like that fish ea­gle’s ser­e­nade. Bass are a alien species, but as com­mon to him as his dirt bin.

Fish ea­gles nest in ev­ery river, yet our ex­pe­ri­ence was so unique, it felt like the aliens had landed and blessed us with an orches­tra of sound and light.

Aurora aus­tralis in our back­yard.

Pic­ture: 123RF/VIC­TOR PAPAEV

BASS: In­dige­nous ea­gle and alien bass both­ers Dolores.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.