There are many elements that will determine how successful any fishing outing is, least not of which is our attitude.
In the lead up to any trip, it’s that element of excitement, finally being able to get back on the water,
receiving the nod from your boss and better half (which hopefully aren’t the same thing) or as of late, ‘Big Brother’.
On arrival at our destination this enthusiasm peaks, which one has to temper so as not to go too large on the first night……good luck with that.
When at an event, this atmosphere is so charged with bravado that it’s difficult not to be swept up in all the emotion and be realistic about expectations.
But this is something you never want to damper and despite all the sensible restrictions of social distancing at the 1st leg of this year’s TOPS Corporate Challenge, the electric air of anticipation was intoxicating. Needless to say with brands the likes of Hardy, Sage, RIO, Horizon, Xplorer, Scientific Anglers, Greys and Airflo supporting SA’s leading fly fishing event, participants had a lot to fish for.
It was planned with all consideration of the current Corona epidemic, everything digitised to minimise any physical interaction and with face masks, buffs and sanitisers part of their ‘TOPS grab bag’. There’s no safer way to social distance than fishing alone on the water, so the fly fishers set off at the crack of, in search of some obliging fish.
The weather couldn’t have been more accommodating, resulting in a very impressive 131 Trout being caught and released in the morning session but the predicted wind arrived on cue, pressure plummeted and the afternoon witnessed a bunch of weary fisherman return with only 52 fish to show for all their efforts.
Being Spring, the fish had started to feed again, albeit on the smaller invertebrates hatching. Still, a Dragon, Damsel or Minnow pattern still had the Rainbows and Browns reacting up until a point. As closely guarded as any fly fisher might be about his pattern that triggers a Trout, the consensus was any colour was working as long as it was Olive!
Although the weather couldn’t really be blamed in the 3rd session, everyone was reaching for an excuse for the paltry 53 fish recorded, but having spent some time guiding over the weekend (with admittedly unimpressive results), the secret was in the size and specific insect surfacing en mass. A midge isn’t many casual fly fisher’s go to fly, let alone in its larvae stage as a bloodworm, but having pinched one from my mate Sven’s box and presented it on my 2nd cast with a floating line, just over the weed bed, a 60cm cock fish made a convincing argument.
The elements as always had the final say, bitterly cold, with a biting wind heralding the arrival of the cold front, which drove most people off the water within a couple of hours. Fourth session tally, a meagre 34 fish, giving the 1st leg a hard-earned 270 Trout. Neil Westerhoff caught 22 of these, making him top fly fisher and Herman Barnard got the largest Rainbow of 58cm.
As usual, it all came down to the last session to determine the finalists, with NOVUS Print taking top honours as the winning team.
The only element missing at this renowned event was understandably the hugging and handshaking, but it did go to prove that you can still have a glass of not so serious in a responsible fashion.