Fishing with Frikkie

The human heart leaps at the tug on the line.  Frikkie likes to spend whole days fishing off the coast of Henties Bay and nearby areas.  It can be a contemplative experience.  Once the line is cast and the pole secured there is only waiting for the tug of the curious ocean dweller.  And what do you do while you are waiting?  You let yourself dissolve into the sea air, the ocean mist, the colors of ocean waves, the shifting clouds, the blue and gray of the sky.  You let your mind drift like the bait on the hook is drifting beneath the salty water.  The instant you feel any tension on the line, you become fully focused on the interplay between you and the mystery which has bitten into your bait.  I say mystery because you will not know what you have caught until you can reel it out of the sea.  Sometimes the mystery eludes you, it unhooks itself and the line goes slack.  And sometimes the mystery eludes you all day long…even day after day.

The Namibian coast is one of the best fishing grounds in the world due to the cold Benjuela Current which flows to the north from the Antarctic.  The waters are filled with plankton which accounts for the abundance of fish, whales, and sharks off the Nambian West Coast.  A prime time for fishing is December, which in Namibia is summertime.  Tillie, Frikkie’s wife, remarks that instead of Christmas decorations, Henties Bay is festooned with vissermen, their trucks and gear. The most highly prized catch of the day is a white fish called Kabeljou, also known as silver cob.  This fish can grow up to 2m in length.  We have already tasted it in more than one restaurant in Henties Bay and found it absolutely delicious.  So what happened the day we went fishing with Frikkie?


Frikkie studies the sea. Where the water is darker, is where the fish are most likely to be. It is windy today which will affect how the fish respond. The previous week there had been a fish catching competition sponsored by a local business and a large amount of fish had been caught.  On this day, Frikkie spent time driving to more than one fishing spot to choose one which showed the best possibilities for catching fish. Frikkie is an experienced fisherman and an excellent teacher.  He is wise in the ways of the sea and its finny inhabitants.
Frikkie prefers to work with 3 to 4 tour participants. As a result you learn first hand and close up starting with the basic tools the visserman uses. He gives you personal attention tailored to your desires and needs.
Various small fish are used for bait. This, I believe is a mackeral.  The Affrikaans words for fish is vis, and fisherman is visserman (as above), and  visvang means the process of fishing.  
The Namibian coastal fish love the sand worms which can be found under the sands of the beach, but for environmental reasons, it is illegal to use them. Namibia places a high priority on conservation of the environment. Note the reminder on the box of frozen bait.
Heather is the fisher in our family. As I was preparing this post, I thought this image was of the hook, but she said, “no, Laura Ann that is the weight” and she went on to explain what she had learned from Frikkie. You cast your line aiming to land in the area in which fish are most likely to be. The weight sinks to the bottom and the bait is attached higher up on the line and floats and bobs giving the appearance of a tasty little meal.
Once the line is cast, the pole is placed in a brace anchored in the beach. Then the wait for the tug on the line begins. Frikkie assists Heather who has never fished in the ocean before.  She is familiar with fishing in the rivers and lakes of Northern California.  I will gladly eat a fresh fish dinner, but I am not a fisherman.  I wandered up the beach once the lines had been cast and the vissermen were at their posts.


Poet on the misty beach. composing a poem is similar to fishing. Each word of the poem is a a shine of silvery movement underneath consciousness. The poet’s line is cast in imagination’s ocean. Word-fish are as illusive and unpredictable as the fish beneath the waters of the ocean more often than not vanishing like shadows.  
When I returned from my wandering, I learned that both Frikkie and Heather had caught something, but the somethings got away. So, alas, no fish were caught by us on that day. the heart, however, had cast its desire and that yearning over the ocean will never end. However, when humans are hungry there must be fish to eat somewhere.  
That evening we went to the Skubbe Bar and enjoyed a feast of Kabeljou. At the Skubbe Bar not only can you eat delicious fresh fish meals but there are places outside in the parking lot where one can access a viswas, a karwas, and a keelwas.  In English that is fish wash, car wash and boat wash. 
This photo, taken by Tillie, shows what a good day of fishing looks like. Frikkie and his friend Poli brought home a major catch of Kabeljou.  2018.
When I was touring with Frikkie in 2018, we traveled to Terrace Bay which is way up north. Terrace Bay is a fishing lodge. There is little sand, mostly rocks and pebbles and thick large sea shells.  I could hear the tide shuffling them night and day –  a continual grating roar. Frikkie had luck heree and caught three kolstert, another delectable Namibian fish. He put them in the car’s cooler and we brought them back to Henties Bay.
Kolstert are round fish. You slice them like pockets and put all the seasonings inside. Frikkie puts them in a stainless steel holder which closes like a larger open toaster. The coals and firewood must be white hot and embered crimson. Frikkie puts bricks on either side and rests the fish directly over the fire.
First the fish are put skin side up, then turned over at the end to bubble in their skins.
This fish is crispy and light. A fork can pull the white flesh from the bones, or you can eat them with your hands, combing the flakey light fish from its bones with your teeth. The buttery potatoes are a perfect compliment – thank you Tillie. Dessert included tea, coffee, chocolate and licorice.  

On one of my poet’s walks on the beach at Henties Bay I waded into the surf and because I wanted to remember the salty air, the wind, the rush of the waves, I began to video my experience.    I let myself dissolve into the sea air, the ocean mist, the colors of water, the shifting clouds, the cries of the sea birds.  I let my mind drift like the bait on a hook, floating, waiting for the mystery to bite.