The annual Rhodes-based Epson Wild Trout Festival is a festival in the true sense of the word - “a gathering of like-minded people in celebration of fly fishing”. It has also taken on a quirky life of its own that was epitomised by the auction of sponsored items on the last evening of the event.
Apart from the usual fly fishing related things, Jopie Adam donated his beard to the cause. Bidding was brisk and finally Miles Divett blew any opposition out of the park with his winning bid of R1500.
Jopie embarked upon making good his promise and proceeded to hack his hirsute chin, much to the amusement and encouragement of all present. On completion of the task, Divett ended up with two hands full of “facial fluff”.
It turned out that Divett had conspired with Jan Korrubell to use the proceeds to tie flies. Walker’s Killers immediately come to mind but being from the home of the geographically challenged, the “Southern Drakensberg”, they will no doubt come up with more bizarre flies than will be found in anyone else’s fly boxes.
Johann Olivier first suggested a ride to the Gariep dam area. After our last stay at Walkerbouts in Rhodes we were agreed that it was well worth staying over for a night there en route to Gariep. Tim Stroebel, who had just joined me on the Sabie trip, was also keen and I dropped a line to another mate, Grant Siebert, who wasted no time in putting his hand up. Then there were four.
The more I looked at Johann’s plans the more I recognized traces of the telltale “Olivier Optimism” in the distances we had to cover each day, especially on dirt tracks. I was mindful that the oldest beau sabreur in our number (who shall remain nameless) just celebrated his 60th and we were looking to have fun, not break endurance records.
It took me a few e-mails before I put forward an alternative to Johann, which involved booking into Walkerbouts for three nights and riding as many of the gravel passes in the area as time allowed. Passes with evocative names like Naude’s Nek, Lundin’s Nek, Bastervoetpad Pass and The Wartrail. To his credit, the ever optimistic Olivier concurred and the itinerary was trimmed and settled electronically between the four of us without much further ado.
We were due to leave on Thursday and it rained heavily all over the country in the days preceding. Those who read about our last trip to Rhodes will recall that when it rained the Eluzie Drift road (Lower Pitseng road on some maps) became completely snotty and impassable on two wheels, with the result that after a Wagnerian evening of crashing lightning and falling pferds we spent an unscheduled night hiding out from the elements on Donnie Naude’s farm. In the event we only made it to Rhodes the next day.
At Rhodes we ask..."Don't leave only footprints", and once again the Rhodes runners, their families and friends proved extremely generous.
This year there were a number of projects to assist the local community.
DM Kisch Inc
The team from DM Kisch once again did a remarkable job at the Rhodes Public School in Zakhele. Even though they were down in manpower they made up for it with commitment and enthusiasm.
Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures: Jeremia, Springbok, Pharaoh, Lefuma, Inkosi Yeentaka, spen, Lehlwa, Wandervogel, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo, Mollie; and our Cape Vulture for the past week (3-9 March 2013).