"What are we
going to come across there?"
"It should be
pretty good," Jim said. "It's been getting better all the time, for
three or four years now."
It was great to
hear someone talking optimistically for once. Fishermen almost always tell you
it's hopeless, just to be on the safe side.
should be a lot of good stuff there," Jim went on. "Egret, spoonbill,
flamingo, Egyptian geese, goliath heron...."
fish have pretty unfamiliar names, like kabeljou, musselcracker, stumpnose and
so on, but there was something terribly wrong here.
the fish, though?" I asked.
see these silver fish jumping sometimes. Millet, mullet, something like
that," he said. "Do you fancy a bit of fishing? I don't know that we'll
have an awful lot of spare time, especially if you want to cover the northern
game reserves as well...."
It was a full
minute before I began to see the funny side of it. I was talking to South
Africa's foremost young ornithologist, no less, who had carefully planned a
bird-watching safari for me. Far up in the higher echelons of the tourism
department, someone had blundered. I watched Jim visibly pull himself together.
He was going to meet this new challenge head on.
now," he said, "let's be practical. We can make a start. I've got a
boat booked on St. Lucia tomorrow anyhow. I'll see what I can raise in the way
of tackle." He shot off in the VW.
Two hours later
he was back, triumphant. "I've fixed you up," he said. "Rod, reel,
the lot." I didn't have the heart to tell him that you don't use a 6/0
big-game reel for estuary fishing, nor do you employ it in combination with a
bait-casting rod. Fitting the two together was the main problem. The reel seat
wasn't meant for a monster like that. But I managed to jury-rig it. It was
going to be interesting fishing, especially since we had no sinkers and the
hooks looked as if they were designed for sharks. "Fish for supper tomorrow
night then?" said Jim, jovially but not jokingly. He didn't know it wasn't
as easy as snooping on flamingos. He was going to find out the hard way.