The elusive Brown Trout finally graced us with their presence in the 3rd Leg of the TOPS Corporate Challenge. Why is as much a mystery to me as it is to the anglers who were fortunate enough to have them come to the party. That wiley Browns love a cold miserable day is common knowledge, with low light, overcast conditions making them comfortable enough to move throughout the water column. Yet with a blue sky and on a bright, balmy Winters day five of them took a fancy to the fly and were gratefully recorded.

In amongst 354 Trout that’s hardly a onslaught you might assume, but when you consider that they were the first to appear out of the 881 Trout caught and released to date then one has to wonder why? Congratulations to Roxanne Stegen who landed the first one, showing the lads how it’s done and earning herself a new rod for her efforts.

This was dubbed as the serious leg, as on paper there were many teams who have made the final before, but surprisingly opening night saw the entrants embracing the legendary Notties pub as it earned it’s nick name ‘the maze’, being notoriously difficult to get out of.

4,3,2,1 was again the wonderful leveller, being the only number of fish to count in the respective four sessions, preventing anyone from bashing the stockies and walking away with the spoils. It was all about the size of fish to count and a good deal of fish over that magic 50cm mark made it to the net. The permissible bequeathing of fish in session one and two had a few entrants breathing a sigh of relief and a special mention has to go to Martin Steenekamp who came charging out the blocks, recording 16 fish in his opening innings.

The additional handicap of not allowing any past winners to bequeath evened the playing field and the system of resting dams between each leg and only fishing the smaller waters in 2 sessions definitely paid dividends.

The WildFly Choice Awards dominated proceedings, with all the great prizes being rewarded for antics off the field and a special mention has to go to the duo of Doron Friedman and Anton De Bruin who, despite having GPS co-ordinates and detailed maps to their location, missed their dam by 7kms and ended up fishing a Bass dam for their entire 1st sessions….no yellow jersey for their Tour de Midlands.

The largest fish accolade of 58cm was shared by Simon Giles and Brendan Smith, both landing 7lb beauties and the best fisherman went to Simon Giles, landing 13 fish at an average of 42cm.

Flies were a closely guarded secret, but it became evident that the smaller nymphs in the crystal clear waters fooled more fish than most.

The stage is set for a grand final on the 23rd August and the teams qualifying were, Guns and Roses / Growler Wildguys is joint 5th, Last minute long liners in 4th, Sasfin Securities in 3rd, Afriguide Logistics in 2nd and just pipping them due to the last session, Team NFC taking the honours.

Needless to say the Glenmorangie flowed as everyone celebrated the culmination of the qualifying legs of the TCC.