Gone Fishing!

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Gero Lilleike

It had been months since I’d gone fishing – sad when there are so many good fishing venues within two hours of Cape Town – but when my chance arose I was happy to put my line out. With my woman, our dog, and fishing tackle ready, we set off for the town of Bonnievale on a mission to hook some fish.

Wooden decks built into Bluegum trees form a supreme lookout over the river below.
Wooden decks built into Bluegum trees form a supreme lookout over the river below.

When it comes to fishing, location is king.

Then I found Bordeaux River Cottages. Flanked by beautiful vineyards, three private timber cottages perch high on the steep banks of the Breede River. Wooden decks built into Bluegum trees form a supreme lookout over the river below. And here’s the best part – each cottage has its own canoe, the perfect vessel to launch a fishing assault.

With its source in the Swartberg Mountains, the Breede River runs some 337 km before reaching the Indian Ocean at Witsands and fish species vary depending on the region being fished. In Bonnievale, bass, barbel and carp are common and we rigged our tackle accordingly.

Three in a boat ....
Three in a boat ….

I was keen to give my trusty fly rod a go while my lady used a standard coffee-grinder setup with a Junebug worm. A two-prong offensive was our best shot. Akatski, the dog, would be our fish-spotter.

The Breede River is a marvellous place to be, especially in a canoe, which makes exploring the nooks and crannies so much easier. The water was clear and we saw large fish cruising around beneath us. The river was alive. Birds bickered and peace soon consumed us. Hours passed, drifting along slowly to the whim of the wind. This is what we came here for.

The author catches a fish!
The author catches a fish!

Then, it happened. There was action on my line! The boat rocked with excitement,. Akaski was on high alert and after some splashing and a brief tussle, I had a small-size fish, but what was it? It wasn’t carp or barbel, so my guess was small-mouth bass, but I wasn’t sure. It didn’t really matter anyway, because for the next four days and despite our persistent perseverance, the Breede River would not yield another fish and we were left to drift along with questions in our minds. The fish looked on from below.

After exhausting our tactics, we set course for the shore, utterly outwitted and defeated. I docked the boat and proceeded with more frivolous things, like making a fire and finding answers in the bottom of a wine bottle. That’s fishing for you. There’s always next time …