Picture the scene, a hot summer’s afternoon with the African veld stretching away in the distance. Behind us the red dirt road winding up the mountain, and in front of us a small stream, flowing between reeds and rushes. The stream itself was only about one metre wide at its widest, flowing into a pool about five metres wide and about 15 metres long. Most of the pool was surrounded by reeds, except for an open spot nearest the road.
My mother had packed a picnic basket and the family made them selves comfortable under a shady thorn tree. One very happy small boy though, was preparing to fish. I attached the reel, threaded the line through the guides, attached a float, a hook and put on a few worms. (All this I might add with my dad’s help).
I walked to the edge of the pool and cast, float, hook, and bait a short distance. Then I sat down to wait for a bite. For all my nagging to fish there I had my doubts as to whether such a small piece of water could actually hold any fish.
The surface of the water was as smooth as glass, and the float just sat there. I really started to think that there weren’t any fish, when suddenly the float was pulled under. My heart almost stopped, and I struck with more force than was necessary. There was no finesse in the way I played the fish. My only thought was to get it out before it got off the hook. After a short tussle, I pulled out a Tilapia of about half a pound. A giant of a fish for me.
My excitement and happiness knew no bounds, I literally shouted for joy. It wasn’t just that I had caught a fish, but also that there could be fish in such an insignificant piece of water.
That was the only fish that I caught that afternoon, and I never nagged to fish there again.
This happened more than 50 years ago, but I remember it as if it happened yesterday. The scene, the emotions, all indelibly etched in my memory. Nowadays I never drive past a piece of water without thinking what fish it might hold, and the memory of that long ago afternoon returns to me.