Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Phil Clisby breaks new floor.
There’s one thing about journey that encourages me to strive new actions – the kind I’d by no means ponder having a crack at caught at house.
Having exhausted snorkelling and kayaking and common lazing about within the relaxed environment of Kaya Mawa, on the picturesque Likoma Island in Lake Malawi, my consideration turns to the paddleboards that lie invitingly on the sand, subsequent to the nonetheless, aquamarine water. “How exhausting can or not it’s?” I believe.
My good friend Johannes is already on the market, paddling away with ease. Even the resort’s resident canine has joined the social gathering, leaping on his board as he pushed off from the shore.
The canine appears utterly at house. If he may have, I’m positive he would have put his shades on, wrapped a paw behind his head and laid again, sipping on a pina colada by means of a straw whereas Johannes paddled him across the bay. That is doggy paddle at its most interesting.
And what a effective setting to be making an attempt this exercise for the primary time: large blue skies, a beating African solar, crystal-clear waters, fish swimming round me, an idyllic stretch of sand behind, a rocky island outpost simply off shore, a fish eagle hovering above, native fishermen plying their commerce.
Nicely, if a canine can do it, then so can I. (I overlook to contemplate he has 4 legs, making balancing on an unstable piece of fibreglass considerably simpler.)
I stride purposefully ahead, drag a board into the shallows and clamber, considerably ungainly, aboard. There are not any waves to talk of, however I’m wobbling like a superb ’un. Proper, right here we go: push up onto the knees after which once more right into a standing place, plant the ft firmly, going through forwards, bend the knees to keep up steadiness and paddle. Nicely, that’s the idea.
But I’m already underwater, coughing and spluttering, after flying off the facet of the board earlier than I’d even had an opportunity to dip my paddle within the water. My sun shades, which I’d optimistically saved on, submerged someplace within the deep.
After 5 minutes of swimming round in a panic, I find my shades resting on the lakebed and sensibly place them on a sunbed on the protection of dry land. I return to the water and scramble onto my board as soon as extra, stand up onto my knees this time, and paddle out to sea… or ought to that be out to lake?
OK, let’s strive once more. I push up. I’m standing. I’m paddling. I’m wobbling like a drunk making an attempt to stagger house. I’m underwater.
I regain my composure, reunite with my board and haul myself on once more – like a seal coming ashore, solely with much less grace. Hmm, this isn’t proper – I’m now mendacity throughout the board fairly than alongside it. It is a bit more durable than I assumed.
Just a few extra aborted makes an attempt comply with, earlier than I’m up and correctly paddling – I cowl 1m, 2m, 3m… 5m, I’m doing it! Splash! I’m not doing it.
Holding onto the board, I ponder my subsequent transfer. A lightbulb goes off in my head. Kneeboard, as an alternative. Like a Native American in a dugout canoe, I’m quickly ploughing by means of the water at velocity. That is enjoyable… till cramp units in in my leg.
A second lightbulb second happens. I bounce off and swim to shore, pushing the board in entrance of me. I drag it up the sand, dump it and seize a kayak. Now, that’s a lot simpler. My paddleboarding days are over.
Not deterred by my paddleboard (in)expertise, I quickly discovered myself trying one other beforehand untried sport – this time in Nyika.
The Nyika Plateau is blessed with three lakes stocked with trout. Wealthy pickings for the fly fisherman – except, after all, like me, you’ve by no means tried any type of fishing apart from with a internet in rock swimming pools at age 5.
4 of us head to the water’s edge to obtain instruction from the camp fishing information. By that I don’t imply he was effeminate, I imply he labored at Chelinda Camp. He ties a fairly enticing black-and-blue fly to my line and demonstrates, with consummate ease, the method I have to make use of: let loose some slack on the road, waggle the rod vigorously in a sideways movement and watch the hook fly out into the water. Repeat till the fly is dangling sufficiently far out into the lake. Enable it to sit down for a couple of minutes earlier than winding in slowly within the hope that the hungry trout will chew. Then repeat the method.
How exhausting can that be? Once more, I quickly realise it’s bloody tough. I let loose some slack, wave my rod backward and forward as quick as I can and watch the hook drop about one metre in entrance of me. I let loose some extra slack, waggle the rod once more. Hey, that’s OK. To this point, so good. Then I get a bit carried away going for an enormous solid. The road loops the loop and in some way entangles itself into a number of knots alongside the size of my rod.
Fifteen minutes of frustration and swearing later, I’m able to solid once more. By now my fly is wanting considerably bedraggled. If I had been a fish I wouldn’t be snapping at this one.
Throughout us within the water we will see trout leaping – bubbles and ripples breaking the floor. However can we solid wherever close to them? Nope. Nonetheless, perseverance is the important thing. I fling my line in as soon as extra. I’ve received one thing. Cling on, what’s this… oh, I’ve caught a bush.
However, there are worse locations to understand that you just’re not excellent at one thing. This stunning expanse of water glistens within the sunshine, the towering forest of pine timber that line the alternative financial institution mirror completely within the glass-like lake. To my proper, the rolling hills of the plateau meander into the horizon; to the left is bush. Bushbuck feed on the grassy financial institution behind us. A gaggle of lads carry firewood on their shoulders as they traipse alongside the forest path.
Over the course of the day, seven of us give this fly fishing lark a go… and the sum complete of our efforts is one measly tiddler. Not caught by me, clearly. However our excited response to the catch is past motive. It’s like successful the World Cup. Nicely, nearly.
Phil travelled to Malawi on Ethiopian Airways and stayed at Kaya Mawa and Chelinda Camp.