Tigers have always been my preferred fresh water species to catch on fly and my meagre pen just isn’t capable of adequately describing that adrenalin inducing experience. But on a whim late last year I decided to do something completely different.
So I told my wife I loved her.
The immediate look of suspicion had me wondering if I’d gone too far. And then the moment passed.
When I say passed, I mean in terms of the age old male practice of accruing fishing credits, the actual payment moment had passed. Of course it would have been remiss of me to not to use such a valuable and well- earned credit…..so, what to do?
After much soul searching with my old friend Glen Livet, it dawned on me. I needed a new species!
Why a new species? Firstly, that’s what we do. We go out with a sliver of graphite and a roll of string, to which we attach a bunch of feathers and a hook and see how many different species we can fool into eating it. Simple. But in this case it was more about being able to inveigle the missus into thinking I had a really important mission to accomplish.
Accordingly, at what seemed opportune moments, I began to punctuate long sighs with dreamy whispers of all the things I still had left to do in the fast fading years of my life.
A card that can only be played once. With all my guile and cunning, I implored and begged like a blind sunglass salesman knocking on your car window, until finally one day with a magnanimous huff, the old girl gave in.
I had the legendary Vundu in mind!
More people have climbed Everest than have hooked and landed a Vundu on fly. Was this not a worthy quest indeed?
Incredulously from my life long fishing buddies, the suggestion was met with a kind off sniggering disbelief, if not downright rudeness.
So, when in doubt, go to plan T…….For Tiger. It wasn’t difficult to get the boys excited about an end of year excursion back to their favourite Tiger hunting ground on the lower Zambezi.
Deception was the preferred strategy for this adventure.
Our motley crew landed at Old Mondoro. Greeted by intense heat. We couldn’t get the ice into our g&t’s fast enough.
Early mornings and late afternoons were the only times a human could withstand the fierce sun. So these were the hours we fished. But, like any long con, I did not immediately sally forth in search of the main prize, rather tested my tackle on token Tigers, biding my time.
Spending long hours on siesta and at the dining table, always staying close to the cold box, I slowly built up my inner reserves and hydrated my parched body in readiness for the arduous task ahead. Enduring the taunting jibes of my buddies as their tally’s rose and weights increased, until it was time
I checked my trusty 9 weight and stole a big black brush fly from Jerry’s box. Made sure my knots were secure and the hook sharp. Cleaned my sunnies, checked the cold box again and sauntered nonchalantly down to the boat.
On the second drift of the day I saw the spot………serendipity.
Overhanging branches and submerged trees meant taking a chance. So I did. The false cast was tight and precise. The large fly gracefully whistled through the air and threaded through the structure like a well- aimed missile, landing just inches from the bank.
On the first confident retrieve the water exploded where the fly had been so judiciously presented. With pounding heart I set the hook and watched in awe as the massive fish moved away from the shallows peeling line as it swam for deeper water. Tension. On the line and washing over me.
This monster was too big to muscle and the 9 weight didn’t have the backbone to lift it easily to the surface. Wait and hope. Two mind numbing km downstream the great fish finally tired and we managed to bring it on board. 50 pounds of quivering Vundu.
I had climbed my Everest. Alone and unsupported.