A few anglers thought that the Trout were adhering to the Covid regulations this last weekend as they certainly were reluctant to come within casting distance, let alone out to play.

Weather is always a go-to excuse, but 34-degree heat and Trout do not mix well, let alone the toll it takes on fly fishers adrift in a tube for 10 hours in the blazing sun. It’s why the TOPS Corporate Challenge is traditionally held at the beginning of Winter and despite 270 fish being recorded in the 1st Leg and 315 in the second, boding well, the first taste of a pending Summer had the Trout diving for cover.

Gavin Cowell with the winning fish

Gavin Cowell with the winning fish

 -Sune Morten with her first wildfly rainbow trout

Sune Morten with her first WildFly Rainbow Trout

Only 90 fish were recorded on the first day (less than what was caught in the first morning of the previous two legs) and some tired and weary fly fishers, looking a little shell shocked, were quenching a well-deserved thirst that evening. It wasn’t just a lack of action or a mild case of sunstroke, but more the fact that some didn’t even see a fish move. Lack of oxygen in the top layer of the water column will account for that, yet to add insult to injury, a few anglers managed to figured out how to target Trout in these conditions and had subsequently filled a scorecard.

Craig Cowell with a wee beast from Lochwood

Craig Cowell with a wee beast from Lochwood

A stunning 59cm Brown and a 59cm Rainbow were testament that a few big Trout were feeding, but on what had those in the know, very tight-lipped.

Changing fly or tactics that have served you so well over the year’s is like asking someone to change the way they dress or walk. Any advice one might part in this respect is always met with a polite ear, but rarely does it sink into the extent that any angler changes their habits.

Gavin Cowell - 59cm brown from Invermooi

Gavin Cowell – 59cm Brown from Invermooi

A Spring / Summer fishing strategy is in stark contrast to Winter and the best suggestion I could ever offer is to slow it all down and let the fish find your fly! In such warm conditions, the Trout isn’t going to chase as aggressively and if nothing else slowing it all down keeps your fly in the water longer, which mathematically increases your chances. You also end up fishing deeper and trust me, the Trout on a hot day will be right down there.

A storm that night injected a little oxygen into most waters and saw a marginal increase in the 3rd session, with 48 Trout succumbing to the fly, but the rain had woken the bigger fish up.

 

Biggest Fish & Top Fly Fisher - Gavin Cowell

Biggest Fish & Top Fly Fisher – Gavin Cowell

Paul Coetzee - best performing dam

Paul Coetzee – Best performing dam

Riaan Viljoen for his 59cm Rainbow

Riaan Viljoen for his 59cm Rainbow

 

Depending on how one fished, flies that worked varied from Minnows and Strip leeches / Platanna varients to small Red-eyed Damsels, Flashback Nymphs, and the reliable Bloodworm.

It’s always decided in the 4th session in the TOPS Corporate Challenge, giving everyone something to fish for and with Hardy, Sage, RIO, Horizon, Xplorer, Scientific Anglers, Greys, and Airflo creating an incredible prize pool, the teams stayed out until last light looking for that one big Trout to count.

3rd leg Champions - ARTAV 4x4

3rd Leg Champions – ARTAV 4×4

The Runners up - The Dead Donkeys

The Runners up – The Dead Donkeys

And Gavin Cowell hit it out the park with a 66cm beauty from Lochwood in the final session, not only giving him the biggest fish, but also top fly fisher for the weekend. The final tally for the TCC 3rd leg was 161 fish.

Top honors went to a new team, Artav 4×4, who consistently out fished their fellow entrants in every session winning the 3rd leg of the TOPS Corporate Challenge.

In a few weeks, the final will decide the 2020 champions and with all the rain on the horizon, I think it’s going to turn the fishing on its head once again.