The art of festival fly fishing
The finals of any event come with a certain amount of expectation from both the competitors and the audience in attendance.
The 2012 London Olympics certainly lived up to all the anticipation and hype that preceded the incredible spectacle as did (on a much smaller scale) the Finals of The Corporate Trophy Challenge
One would expect the finalists to take the weekend very seriously as there are some pretty incredible prizes, let alone the accolades on the table, but, being the finely tuned specimens that typify most anglers, the majority of them simply strutted into Notties pub and began warming up properly.
These were, after all, seasoned campaigners, with constitutions that had survived many a “fishing excursion”.
Competition is not a word that sits well with fly fishing, sure we all like to out fish the next man, in fact the better the friend, the greater the satisfaction, but that’s really just pub banter. To enter into fierce competition with a fly rod is a lot like whipping out your member and challenging someone to a duel.
However, taking out the competition who fancy themselves before they get to the water has become something of a tradition at Notties. The source of any fishing competition starts over a grog or two and before long, the first timers find themselves the hapless victims of a type of Guerrilla warfare. Many an unsuspecting competitor has fallen prey to a fellow entrant’s “hospitality”. A raging hangover will ensure that any master caster turns into a wading mess the following morning.
As you can imagine a few names were casually thrown away on opening night, all in the name of a trophy trout, but at the crack of dawn, there wasn’t a dam that didn’t have four rods working their way around the basin. The fact that a few souls hadn’t got to bed, did not detract them from the task at hand as they set about trying to outmaneuver the trout.
The fishing stats in the qualifying legs certainly made the finalists pay attention: 783 trout were caught and released in the 15 private dams, with Frank Fergusson, taking the 3 biggest fish…a 57cm, 58cm and a 60cm all in one session. This earned him a brand new Quintrex boat, compliments of Yamaha.
17 teams made it through to the finals this year and despite some pretty challenging conditions a further 243 fish were recorded. Over 4 weekend’s of very festive fly fishing 1072 trout were measured and allowed to roam free to fight another day.
97 Rainbows measured above the 50cm mark with one solitary brown of 53 cm caught by Warren Bradford in the final.
The Top Fly Fisher of the tournament went to Leon Vermeulen for his consistency in catching the most fish in every session of the qualifying legs and final.
In the proverbial spirit of this competition, more prizes were awarded for a team’s antics in the pub than on the water, with Bophelong Construction taking the coveted ‘Betty Ford’ title but even in this format, where the Ozzy Ozbourne and Baby Bieber awards have many a shame faced angler bearing the brunt of the organizers’ humour, there has to be eventual winners.
Arriving in 5TH Place on 28 points were the Road Span Royals team. Mike Adams, Gert Ferreira and Dave and Richard Birnie, won themselves a one week yellow fishing adventure, compliments of Easy Holidays
In 4th Place on 27 points was Team WBHO, consisting of Ivan Tyler, Steve Harrison, Gavin Loveday and Mark Scates, who won a weekend for the team and their better halves at the luxurious Fordoun Spa.
3rd Place on 26 points was Team Formscaff, consisting of Tim Rowbottom, Darryl Voysey, Tony Gradwell and Richard Amm. They won a four night fishing trip to Rani Resort’s Indigo Bay on Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
The runners up were Vic Terblanche, Leon Vermeulen, John Travis and George Harris of Leads 2 Business who actually tied session 3 but lost narrowly on a count out, by what amounts to a single sizeable fish. They won a 5 night fishing trip to Barotse Tiger Camp in Zambia
The champions duly crowned were Team Columbia, Pieter Strobus, Greg Slotar, Adam Fowls and Warren Geerdink who walked away with the grand prize of a week’s Bill fishing off the coast of Kenya at the renowned Hemingways
Listening to the tales in the pub that evening, you become convinced that there are more strategies for hooking trout than there are actual fish netted. Before, during and after every excursion, we spend more time discussing the tactics than we do with our flies in the water, which leads to one very satisfying conclusion... that fly fishing festivals have very little to do with the act of fishing.
Here’s to many more memories!