there," I said. "Right under us." Any plan of attack appeared
hopeless. He was bound to see us the instant we moved. Then, suddenly, the
trout spooked. It streaked into a weed bed.
"OhmyGod!" yelped Dowle. He was looking over his shoulder at what had
disturbed the fish. The askari had arrived silently, his steps muffled by the
pine needles. But the trout had managed to spot him. He stood not a yard away,
his eyes riveted on the wine bottle. An old Greener shotgun was cradled in his
arms. The forestock, split, had been wired to the barrels. The askari wore a
tattered bush jacket, minus the buttons. His legs, skinny as a stork's, poked
below huge army-issue shorts. He was grinning.
shattered," Dowle observed, recovering at last.
there. The heady fumes of pombe—a devastating home-brewed beer—wafted toward us
like vapors from an open gas tank. The askari leaned the shotgun against a tree
and squatted beside us. He examined the lake silently, just a fisherman among
pointed down at the rowboat. It was clear that he was offering to take us out.
He tried to get his point across by pantomiming an oarsman, his arms flailing.
Dowle, who had a firm grip on the language, having served in the King's African
Rifles, asked him if he knew how to handle the boat. Oh, yes. More posturing
with invisible oars for emphasis.
We struck a deal.
For acceptable labors the askari would be paid five shilingi and three fish. If
there were no fish, then three more shilingi. We wondered how the Brown Trout
would take to our moonlighting their watchman, and decided to say nothing about
it. This way we could both fish. Mum's the word, we cautioned our new
Dowle began to go
through his fly boxes. He held each box right below his nose as though trying
to smell his selection. They were English flies that he had bought in Nairobi
for the trip. Most were outlandishly colorful. He picked out a McGinty, a
bumblebee fished wet. It was an ancient pattern and as out of date as a Sopwith
Camel, which it resembled. Old habits die hard. I decided to wait and look at
what was coming off the water.
From the outset
you could see there was going to be trouble with the askari. He drove the boat
in circles, thrashing mightily at the water. We were soon caught up hard
against a fallen limb. "This is not going to work out," said Dowle,
ever the stern employer.
We decided to
give the askari a thorough grounding in the craft of oarsmanship. He was a
willing pupil once he mastered his overeagerness. After half an hour's
instruction he was able to manage the oars. We decided to keep the maneuvers
simple: just hold the boat 30 yards offshore and correct for drift. Across the
lake Sherlock Holmes watched the lesson, fascinated.
By now I had a
good idea of what was hatching. There was some action on caddis flies, sedges.
But most of the attention seemed to be focused on a small olive-colored
natural. I captured one and studied it. The tiny, segmented body flexed in my
palm. I was careful not to damage the wings. It matched a size 20 Pale Olive
Dun I had in a fly box, a pattern which kills them in Montana in the fall. I
released the mayfly, somehow not wanting to interrupt the food chain.
Ridiculous. Perfectly willing to creel a fat trout, I was squeamish about a
mere insect. The ironies of a fly-fisherman, a nest of hang-ups. Are we all