First Grunter: Part 1

My grandfather married a young 22-year-old “bokkie” at the ripe “old” age of 40. He was a legend and family and friends to this day speak of him as the walking angel. He was the most gentle, patient and soft-spoken person I knew. The complete opposite to my Grandmother, who wasn’t called the “Leeu” of“Leeurand” for nothing. Every pot has indeed got its lid!

He loved fishing and every year when they visited us from Vryburg we would spend days on end next to one of the estuaries close to George. Our favourite places were the Kaaimans River, Wilderness Lagoon, Island Lake and of course Swartvlei. Like every true fisherman he always used to say that “today will be the day I catch the BIG ONE!”.

On one occasion we were sitting on the bank of the Touws River in Wilderness. The winter rains caused the river to flood and it opened a nice deep gully to the sea. The men were fishing with rod and reel but me and my cousins were only allowed a Maxima Marine Green hand line. Our bait was pumped sand prawns and we caught a couple of smaller Stumpnose and Steenbras.

“Oupa” said he was cold and passed the rod to my uncle to get his hands free so he could put on a jacket. Next moment something almost pulled the rod out of my uncles’ hands and the fight was on. I can’t remember exactly why, but somehow the rod never made its way back to grandpa. We walked all along the bank with the fish when it took off downstream and watched the fight with great delight.

Eventually my uncle landed a fish of about 5kgs, this was big compared to the rats and mice we were playing with. It looked like a “Vlei Steenbras”except it had an almost light goldish-brown colour and the whole body was covered in black spots. While it was flapping on the side it made the weirdest grunting sounds. We just stared in awe at the beautiful fish and giggled every time it grunted. My dad identified the fish as a “Knorhaan”. It was the biggest fish I had seen and my first, very memorable meeting with a Grunter.

My granddad never got his “Big Fish” but he passed away a rich man with 6 children and 15 grandchildren. So, I guess you can say his big fish, his big Grunter (no pun intended) was my grandma!

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