Waiting for the turn of the season is what you do as fly fishermen, knowing that with each one, a particular species will appear on our radar. And whilst we couldn’t claim to be men of all seasons, come Winter it’s the TOPS Corporate Challenge that every angler is clamoring to enter.
And judging from this year’s grand final you can understand why.
A glass of not so serious was truly embraced, with the Bains whisky tasting setting the tone for the celebrations to follow, each finalist reveling in the fact that every team was walking away with a holiday prize, just for making it this far.
The fishing was simply off the scale, with a large contributing factor being the proverbial Indian Summer experienced this last weekend. The fruit trees were in premature bloom and the Mayfly hatch had the Trout enjoying the floating buffet.
Session One witnessed more fish landed than in the entire 1st leg, revealing just how many fish inhabit these WildFly waters.
The lure of a Yamaha boat, as well as a brand new Nissan Navara, was incentive enough to keep everyone on the water and the balmy weather ensured that the trout played ball. There were even a few elusive Brown Trout who deigned to make an appearance.
Water temperatures were fortunately still frigid, keeping the fish in feisty condition and spawning many stories of being stripped into the backing, ploughed into the weed or broken up!
Naturally these tales were the cornerstone of conversation at the legendary Notties, with hushed mutterings of the imitative versus attractor fly patterns that were delivering the results.
300 fish in a day from the 60 qualifying entrants, is a tally that could have sparked yet another festive evening, but a long day on the water took its toll as some weary contestants fell into their beds, calling it an early night.
The final day of a TOPS Corporate Challenge is one of conflicting emotions, with the desire to slow it all down and enjoy every last moment battling against the urge to cover as much water as possible in your quest for the trophy Trout.
Stories of a water’s pedigree adding fuel to this fire.
But all good things eventually come to and end, which at the TCC final resulted in an 18th birthday bash deserving of it’s reputation.
That evening over five hundred thousand Rands worth of prizes were handed out for the 514 fish recorded, as well as the 112 fish lost, bring the productive total to 1290 Trout over the entire event.
Craig Cowell, walked away with a brand new Quintrex boat and Yamaha motor for a single fish of 62cm with Daniel Greene earning the accolade as top fly fisher for his 24 fish at an average of 44cm.
With yellow fish adventures from Kalahari Outventures, Fly Fish Van Der Kloof and Easy Holidays, Trout adventures in Semonkong, Highland Lodge, InverMooi and luxury escapes to Fordoun and Cathederal Peak Hotel, to the incredible international Tiger Fishing holidays up for grabs, it was smiles all round.
The Zimmers took 4th, with a wonderful trip to Inchingo in Namibia for their efforts and Team Craighoppers earned a trip to Bains lodge on the lower Zambezi for third. Runners up, WBHO get to relax at Royal Zambezi lodge and the 2019 champions, Bophelong Construction will experience the trophy tiger waters of the Barotse at Matoya lodge.
The TOPS Corporate Challenge certainly exceeded expectations, on it’s 18th birthday,
justifying it’s reputation as South Africa’s premier fishing event.