Great casting is simply lost on the fish. That isn’t to say that a good cast doesn’t catch Trout, it’s just a reminder that the graceful art of a tight loop presented with pinpoint precision does not always translate into an obliging take. Case in point was the third leg of the TOPS Corporate Challenge where the fixated fish were to be found within a rod length of the bank, requiring all your patience and a mere flick of your stick to reach them.
But we are creatures of habit and I for one still get immense satisfaction from aspiring to that perfect cast, to the extent that it’s easy to forget about the fish with your line sailing beautifully against the backdrop of the Drakensberg. Until your partner lands a 60cm beast that eats a few meters from the water’s edge! Those fly fishers who worked less over the weekend definitely caught more in the challenging conditions. The weather couldn’t have been better and if enthusiasm was ever a factor in catching fish, the Trout didn’t stand a chance.
Some say the fish you see is often the hardest to catch, a statement that I don’t ordinarily subscribe to, yet every angler had far too many sightings of uncooperative Trout this weekend, as they glanced at flies with disdain. The water temperature was hovering at ten degrees, which for the fish, in human terms is akin to hot-blooded men running through the streets chasing anything in a skirt. Many might think that a bright attractor pattern would be a simple solution and whilst the odd fish might be fooled, the water clarity coupled with their proximity to the fringes of every dam called for a lot more finesse. Size 16 buzzers, fished with glacial speed on a long leader was the answer that a few experienced fly fishers came up with and it certainly paid dividends.
Fortunately, as usual at the TCC, it was the festivities that took center stage for many. With the shackles of the pandemic era, having finally been broken, this benchmark event was back to full capacity, and many great friends united in WildFly country, reliving the times that a 21 year old event indelibly etches into one’s memory. The atmosphere of the legendary Notties proceeded to lead the way!Over the qualifying legs, 637 Trout were recorded for the top 15 teams to make it through to the illustrious final, half of these landed in the first leg when the fish were still actively feeding. But kudos to the winning team in the third leg, the Zimmers, who figured it out and between them managed to land just over 25% of the total Trout netted this last weekend.
A 62cm beauty from Alistair Moores Pitt took top honours, and his partner Wayne Stegan showed real class by catching 13 fish at an impressive average of 48cm, cementing his team’s place, and earning him the accolade of Top Dog!The prize-giving was a belly of laughs as even those that failed to trouble the scorers, walked away with an armful of prizes and every entrant made the most of the pink ticket they had been given by their better halves to unwind and celebrate the moment!

The stage is now set for the 21st TOPS Corporate Challenge final, hoping that the Trout don’t see us coming!