That this event has less to do with fishing and more about celebrating with friends was resoundingly apparent this last weekend. By lunchtime Thursday, the festivities started and you could be forgiven for thinking that the anglers were toasting their catches, such was the infectious atmosphere.
It never fails to amaze me how the prospect of a weekend of fishing gets the party started. Enthusiasm is at an all-time high and the great fishing stories of old are recounted, careful not to let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.
The first session was understandably a slow start, but credit to the fly fishers who braved the frosty banks and managed to keep their fly in the water. The weather seemed to be very unsure of itself, which was a convenient excuse for the anglers whose head wasn’t exactly in the game.
But a 61cm Rainbow made an early appearance, caught by Ami Visser, along with a good few eclipsing that half-meter yardstick and many stories of Trout getting the better of the intrepid fly fishers. So, spirits soared once again over a pub lunch, and it was once more into the breach.
For the first time in the illustrious 22 histories of the TCC, an all-ladies team had entered and their performance on the day one made all the lads pay attention, as they emerged as serious contenders for the title. Considering the 2022 champions were in attendance this was no mean feat! Another very pleasing aspect of this year’s TOPS Corporate Challenge was how many new anglers were being introduced to the sport of fly fishing and there’s nothing like seeing someone catching their first Trout on fly. It’s a real cause for celebration and a story they’ll be retelling for many years to come.
That the conditions weren’t the greatest by anyone’s admission, was reflected in the first day’s bag of only 91 Trout. As usual, the Friday night saw some weary anglers get back on the horse or rather carousel, but most recharged their batteries for the last day with some ominous gusting winds predicted.
Remarkably the catch records improved in session 3, I real anomaly when they should decrease based on rod pressure, with 56 fish making it to the net. But the 4th and final session witnessed the winds peaking at up to 40km/h, driving most back to the comfort of Notties in the build-up to the Boks taking on the Pumas and the catch records reflected as such!
In the 1st leg of the TCC a solid 230 fish were caught and released, and in the 2nd leg a very impressive 285, but in this 3rd gathering, only 174 fish succumbed to the angler’s advances, not that you could tell from the jovial attitude of everyone at the final prize giving.
11 out of the 15 Wildfly waters have now produced a Trout over 60cm which is a true testament to their fishery management and with a total of 689 fish recorded in the qualifying legs, there was no shortage of action as Justin Birnie could attest to, earning the accolade as the top fly fisher.
The grand final being held in 3 weeks will no doubt add significantly to the tally and the 5 team qualifying were -: Team Waterscapes; Highland Hookers and Fish O’Holics, with Notties Fly Fishing being pipped by the new all-ladies team, Stranger Dangers, who won the 3rd leg of the TOPS Corporate Challenge. The stage is set for a showdown on the 18th / 19th August 2023, with 15 teams contesting for the coveted title.