For once the naysayers, me included, got it completely wrong. We always watch any incoming weather with trepidation and automatically assume the worst especially when we see a front looming. And we had every right to be worried this last weekend, a max of 3 degrees predicted, with winds up to 7 meters a second, definite rain, sleet and probable snow, it was an anglers worst nightmare
Fishing to a backdrop of snowcapped mountains is one thing but spending up to 20 hours over two days, in such a climate…  well no rational fly fisher would ordinarily consider it. But lunacy is one of the side effects of this pandemic;  whatever the conditions; when given the window to break free from the confines of lockdown you leap at the chance to be in the great outdoors, even if it means risking a bout of hyperthermia!
Such was the setting for the 2nd leg of the TOPS Corporate Challenge. With a reduced field to comply with all level three restrictions and entrants naturally keeping their socially appropriate distance, 48 fly fishers braved the deep freeze, attempting to convince the trout to come out of hiding. And incredibly they did! 214 fish were landed in the first gathering, which was almost surpassed on day one of this 2nd leg.  More impressive  though was the size of the Trout prodding about for a meal or a quick shag. The cold snap and mountain snow-melt had some dams witnessing the Trout chasing each other in a fruitless attempt to spawn, while other waters saw the fish unexpectedly feeding on anything that was moving.
James Hills had his year lit up in bright lights by a 64cm Brown, that was 9lbs if an ounce, being his first fish from a WildFly water in his very first TCC….winning himself a Hardy collectors piece for such a magnificent beast. Pieter Van Der Merwe celebrated his weekend with a total of 19 Trout at a noteworthy average of 48cm, justifiably earning him top fly fisher of this leg.
In fact you couldn’t find a fly fisher who wasn’t ruing the huge fish that snapped them up, commenting on how many fish over 50cm they’d caught or toasting their personal best. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that it was the finest weekend of fly fishing that any group of anglers had experienced this year! The weather was determined to spoil their fun, as it just didn’t let up….thanks goodness for a wee dram of Glenbrynth to keep that Winter chill at bay.
Predictably it was all down to the last session, where the story of Shane Fergusson sight casting to a marauding cock fish had his fly engulfed and after a heart stopping fight landed a 59cm beauty, much to his great delight. But his fishing partner was not to be outdone, surreptitiously biting off the winning fly, Paul Lishman strapped it on to his own rig and less than ten minutes later caught yet another 59cm RainbowTrout, resulting in a lively debate as to whose was bigger? Such an argument between two men can only be settled over a celebratory drink, which raising many a glass to each other’s conquest was the final result. The five team that made it through to the illustrious final in ascending order were ; The Dead Donkeys, WBHO, ST Fergusson, Fish On and ultimate winners of the TCC 2nd leg, The RoadSpan Royals. A lesson that everyone certainly learned was that regardless of inclement weather, time on the water equates to fish on the board!