Friday, 16 December 2005

Thursday, 15 December 2005


All of the administrative troubles paid off though. We caught (on the fly with barbless hooks) and released 19 small-mouth yellowfish. Three days of awesome fishing and beautiful surroundings.

This is what the river looks like in most parts. The water is very clear and the fish spot you easily, so casting upstream, or keeping low is necessary. Sight-casting for yellows is possible, but infuriating. It is terrible to see how your fly is ignored. On the second day I cast my entire flybox at six yellows feeding actively from the surface, but they ignored everything. I am not sure whether they become fixated on certain food type and size (like trout sometimes do)... Although I knew beforehand that more than two-thirds of the yellowfish diet exists of caddis flies at various life stages, I had no success with caddis imitations. All the fish I caught were on imitations of mayfly nymphs.

Smallmouth yellows are a lot like grayling, so they hang at the inflow and exits of pools, or in the eddies behind rocks, or close to the reed-beds, and wait for food to drift to them in the current. Casting to those lies is the most productive strategy.

My friend caught the fish of the day with this one of just over a kilogram.

Getting a fishing licence in Kimberley

The penalties for fishing without a permit are quite severe. Apart from a fine, your vehicle and fishing equipment may be confiscated on the spot. And since we intended to fish for an endangered species, we could not afford to go without permist. Therefore, I visited Kimberley to get a fishing licence for the Northern Cape Province.

I located the Department of Environment and Tourism - the place where you get freshwater fishing licences in most provinces in South Africa. (Sea and shore angling permits are much easier to find, because you can get them at any post office). They told me that in Kimberley, the office for fishing licences is actually in the building of the Dept of Safety and Security. Kind of strange, but maybe it attests to the size of the barbel (catfish) found in the river.

Finding the Dept of Safety and Security was a little difficult in downtown Kimberley, but after three stops at the wrong places, I walked into the office. In contrast to Bloemfontein, I was invited in and sat down opposite an elderly white lady who must have issued fishing licences for a very long time. She told me that she cannot issue the actual licence to me, since the Northern Cape Province has run out of their supply of documents. But, she can provide me with a receipt to show that I did in fact pay for a licence.

You would not believe what a fishing licence valid for a year of fishing in the Northern Cape Province costs. All of R2 - yes two rands!!! And one could have one's car confiscated for not paying that!

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Visit to the Conservation Directorate: Fishing Licences

As a visitor to Bloemfontein, I saw the most fantastic sight inside the building of the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. I visited this building to apply for a fishing licence. The office responsible for issuing these licences was surprisingly easy to find, considering that the only signposting was a trail of arrows printed out on a deskjet somewhat low on toner.

Eventually after following a trail of these faded printouts through a number of corridors, I arrived at the Conservation Directorate: Fishing Licences, 3rd Floor, Northwing Building. Looking at the counter, I realised that I was face-to-face with height of bureaucratic design principles. The genius of bureaucratic design is that it is an impersonal and faceless application of a rational-legal system. In front of me the glass-fronted counter of the Conservation Directorate: Fishing Licences, 3rd Floor, Northwing Building shone gold and reflected my own surprised expression back at me: It took me a few seconds, before I realised that I faced a one-way mirror.

From my side it is impossible to see the face of the clerk assigned to process me, but of course, the clerk has a clear view of the applicant to be processed according to the rational-legal principles that the Conservation Directorate decided upon. I found it quite hard to communicate, especially because facing your own puzzled reflection makes it hard to maintain the belief that there is actually a diligent clerk on the other side of the glass.

Where the mirror meets the veneered countertop, there was an opening cut in the glass, precisely to the width of a Free State Province fishing licence document and about ten centimetres high. I put my cheek flat on the countertop and tried to speak to the clerk through the hole. Now, if only he also would have put his head flat on his side, then we could speak eye-to-eye. To my dismay, and the detriment of the quality of our interaction, the clerk failed to reciprocate. I assume he must have seen this kind of manoeuvre before, because he spoke to me as if everything was normal, even though I was speaking to his belt buckle.

To avoid further embarrassment, I straightened up, looked myself in the eye and pretended to rehearse a speech. Then I sealed my fate by asking my reflection who decided to put this unfriendly glass in. I could hear his footsteps as he moved away from the counter. I continued speaking to my reflection, only this time no response came from the other side of the glass. I made a face in the mirror – just for the hell of it.

I clicked my heels to attention, gave my best salute, did an about turn and marched out wondering about Chief Director Monde Walaza - the person who heads the office of the Conservation Directorate: Fishing Licences, 3rd Floor, Northwing Building. Surely he is responsible for the golden mirror of bureaucracy.

I am wondering how could Chief Director Monde Walaza so quickly forget the eighties in South Africa? Can he not remember the time of one-way mirrors in government interrogation rooms from behind which those in power anonymously observed those who dared resist the way the state decided to process their lives?