Friday, June 25, 2010

My Fishing Luck Continues...

Went out to a local spot last night with the usual crowd, expecting to hook into a sizeable stingray or another cow shark.

Although that didn't happen, at 22h00 my reel screamed in protest at the fish pulling the end of the line out at a rate of knots. As it is not the season for bronze whaler sharks and I knew that a ray would not be peeling line off at that speed, I was wondering what the hell was causing my reel such distress (and me such pleasure).

The fish must have taken about 50m of line before I managed to turn its head, and it was strong in its fight, so I was really clueless as to what it might be, but first thoughts were that it might be a small "sharp-nosed bronzie", the local term for a Great White Shark. GW's are not spoken of by their real names in angling circles due to the sensitivity of the survival of the species, so another term is used which most anglers recognise.

As I had managed to turn the fish relatively quickly, I immediately realised that it was not a sharp-nose, and the intrigue began again.

After about ten minutes or so, and after a couple of solid runs, I saw the fish floundering in the shallows and managed, with the aid of the leader Line and a wave, to bring it up the beach.

At first sight, it looked like a Ragged Tooth shark, but then I saw the gray colouring and the spots on its body. It was a Black Spotted Smoothound Shark, another first for me.

I didn't bother weighing or tagging the fish as I do not believe these species are tagged for research. After a couple of photos by Mrs Sparky, I lifted the fish and estimated the weight to be between 10 and 15 kilograms, then returned her to the water.

Then I went and had another slurp of Old Brown Sherry...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Been fishing again...

Went out fishing last Tuesday night, and again this week, up to the Strand area (Gordons Bay side). There were reports of large Spearnose Rays and Broadnose Seven Gill Sharks (also known as Cows) coming out and I wanted to see if I could get me one of them.

All that came out on both nights were fish that I caught. :-)

Last Tuesday I got a large Striped Pyjama's its's probably the largest of its kind that I've seen.

Ugly little bugger and a real pest as they have no natural predators.

Last night I lost a small Spearnose in the breakers and then at 10pm felt the pull of a Cow Shark that I'd been told how to recognise. It picks up your bait, then drops it and it makes it feel like it's coming toward you as you feel the tug and then the line goes slack. It does this a few times and when it's ready to eat, takes the bait and moves away slowly, which is when you tighten up and strike. I was using circle hooks so I didn't strike until I knew he was hooked. The disappointing thing about the Cow is that they don't really fight and feel mostly like a big plastic bag on the end of your line. Ah well, at least I got one of my target species for the winter so far... :-)

You can't see it, but I tagged the Cow before I released her.

The Cow measured 131cm pre-caudal length, which, according to the weight tables, weighs in at 29.1kg.....not bad for a first. "Pre-caudal length" is the length from the tip of the nose to the caudal notch at the start of the tail fin, not to the end of the tail. I also measured full length and it came in at 189cm but the weight estimate would have been wrong as it definately wasn't 98kgs....

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Go with God, Nana Douglas...

It felt like the middle of the night when the home phone rang, so I left it to go to voicemail.

Steph had heard it too, as did one of the dogs who stirred, thinking it was one of us coming home. We have a "code" between us in that when one of us is at home, the other lets the home phone ring a couple of times then hangs up, so that the one at home knows to open the garage door to drive in easily rather than having to go through the rigmarole of opening the door by yourself.

As it turns out, it was just after 6am when the phone had rang, but the sun only comes up around 8am in Cape Town in winter, the reason I thought it was still the wee hours. Anyway...

After letting the dogs out, Steph came back through to the bedroom and touched my shoulder gently. It was your sister, she said. Then more softly, your gran passed away last night.

Strangely enough, that was the second thought that had come immediately to mind. No-one calls in the middle of the night, unless it's a prankster, or bad news.

Nana, as she was affectionately known to the family, had had an aneurysm in her stomach and been rushed to hospital sometime last night. Apparently the doctor had said that she could be operated on, but due to her age may not come out of the anesthetic. My aunt Christine, closest to Nana from the family had said that maybe it's not a good idea, to which the doctor said that she should then gather the family around to come and pay last respects then as Nana may only have a couple of hours left.

According to my sister, Nana had a last drink of her favourite tipple, Balvennie single malt scotch, was given some morphine for the pain and slipped away quietly in her sleep.

Nana had recently celebrated her 90th birthday and had lived a long, fruitful, colourful life.

Needless to say, following what she had said about not seeing my father (her eldest child) again on this earth, he is pretty upset but, as usual, is putting on a brave face.


Go in peace, Nana Douglas. I'm sure there's lots of Balvennie in heaven cos the angels always take their share from the casks and I know they'll share it with you.

Catherine Macdonald Douglas - 15 April 1920 to 4 June 2010

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Masters of Rock Concert, Grand West, Cape Town

There are so many ways I could have started this post:
  • My Tinnitus has tinnitus this morning
  • What? Pardon? Speak up please...
  • Mindblowing, earth-shattering...what the fuck was that noise?
  • Old fuddie rockers lift the roof
  • And more...

A good friend of mine went to see the concert in Joburg late last week and the text messages he sent me afterward, as well as his posting about the concert and the song he phoned me to listen to (still don't know what it was, which should have given an indication as to how loud the show was) all prompted me to see if I could get last-minute tickets to the Masters of Rock concert at Grand West Casino, here in Cape Town.

Every bit of my body (except my ears) are ecstatic that I managed to get some...

Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple, all legendary 70's (and currently active) rock bands performed some of their smash hits to an audience that, beforehand, looked like it would be better off at a Celine Dion concert. I estimate the average age of the crowd must have been in the early 40's, even though a small percentage must have been early 20's. There were people who have not been alive for as long as these bands have been playing.

Wishbone Ash are relatively unknown in SA, but by the third song had the audience woohoo-ing and yelling at the brightly-lit stage. With 27 albums and EP's (!!!!!!) to their name, these guys are seriously hard rockers and there are going to be a whole load of downloads of their tunes today following what we heard last night.

Their piece-du-resistance was a 1978 song called Way of the World, which they kept blasting out for somewhere around 15 minutes! An absolute masterpiece of guitar and computers...unadulterated, mind-fuck rock!! It's a song I will never forget, ever.

Their latest offering, Reason to Believe, was also played and, while a great rock song in itself, was nowhere near as hard-hitting as the rest of the playlist which included Phoenix off their first album in 1970, another phenomenal track.

Go get some of these will not be sorry!

Next up, Uriah Heep.

These old-timers waltzed cockily onto the stage, took up instruments and let rip with over an hour of harmony, synchronised noise, heart-wrenching drums and piercing vocals, but about three songs into the repertoire, you could see the crowd thinking to itself "Who the fuck are these guys?" A large portion of the crowd didn't know the really old stuff from the Heep, but the fourth track struck a chord and sent everyone wild: Free Me.

After that, it was just loud and wild. These guys blasted the roof off the arena. By the end of their playlist, the crowd was baying for more and Bernie Shaw on vocals obliged as the band took an ovation.

Mick Box on lead guitar was simply masterful and he is, as the saying goes, growing old disgracefully. His fretwork was absolutely amazing as, at times, he played one-handed while waving the other hand in the air in side to side motions.

Russel Gilbrook on drums was loud, very, very loud. The subwoofers on the stage took a serious beating at his hands and on many occasions you could feel the vibration shaking your innards.

Needless to say, the clapping and howling went on for a little while after they left the stage.

After another twenty minute break for instrument changes, the headline act took to the stage to a tumultuous welcome from the amped-up audience, now expecting not just great stuff, but based on the Heep performance, expecting a phenomenal finale to a great evening of rock.

Much to their disappointment, I might least, I was seriously disappointed.

I was first introduced to Deep Purple by my dad, way back in the early 1970's and they have remained a favourite since. They are absolute legends, having been around since 1968 when I was just a kid (that's a fuckin' long time ago). Their most famous hit, Smoke on the Water, is THE rock anthem of all time.

Nevertheless, I was disappointed by the vocals from Ian Gillan. His voice, after years of belting it into a microphone, I am sad to say, is buggered. Most of the time, you could not hear him over the instruments and a lot of the time he was just screaming his words to be heard.

Don Airey, on keyboards, was masterful. His solos were phenomenal and there is not another band, nor will there ever be one in future, that will use keyboards the same way as Purple still do.

Steve Morse, on lead guitar, is the youngest of the band members and only joined Purple in 1994. As brilliant a guitarist as he is, and his rendition of songs written before he joined was brilliant, I still say Ritchie Blackmore was the better of the two for Purple. Ah well, that's all history.

Ian Paice on drums was outstanding. His beats were perfectly tuned into the rest of the band and he kept them, and the crowd, in perfect time with each other.

As soon as Smoke on the Water was played, you knew this was the end of their time on stage. Just being there to hear that song, played live, was worth every cent of the price paid for the tickets. The majority of people cannot say they've heard it, but I have, and it's a great feeling. I can already hear myself telling someone in the future "Remember Deep Purple? I saw them play Smoke on the Water, live in Cape Town. Beat that if you can."

The ovation song was Black Knight, another favourite of mine and, again, Airey's keyboards were brilliant.

This was a shot of the crowd in front of us between the Heep and Purple sets. The anticipation of what was coming was electric, but a sad disappointment overall compared to the Heep session.

The buzz of the crowd, all the way out the door of the casino resort, left me knowing that there was not one in the audience that didn't have an absolute blast. Listening and talking to people, the undeniable winner on the night was Uriah Heep.

The Joburg show ran for approximately four hours, but our show started at 19h10 and ended at 23h50, almost four and a half hours long!

Wreckless...thanks again for the recommendation to go, man. Without that, my life would be a tad less lived. Now I know what your epiphany was all about.