After 20 years of watching fly fishers pit their wits against the wiles of feral Trout, you would think that we’ d seen it all, yet every year at the TOPS Corporate Challenge something happens that beggars belief.
Usually it’s antics off the field that never fail to amuse and provide anecdotes that decades later still have us in stitches.
We’ve had anglers take on Jersey bull’s ( no prizes for who came off 2nd best), fly fishers park their new brand new 4×4’s in the dam and even a fisherman who caught a 10lb Trout, only to find it was on the completely the wrong dam, plus all manner of shenanigans in the Notties pub resulting in the walk of shame that embodies the Wildfly choice awards.
Yet this year, it was the Trout that remained the hot topic of conversation.
It was a reduced field in the 1st leg, due to level 3 covid restrictions, so only 48 fly fishers were allowed entrance, much to the disappointment of those that didn’t reserve their spot soon enough. This translated into less rod pressure and every team getting to fish the absolute finest waters in the Natal Midlands.
Which resulted in the first session of the TCC firing, with more 50cm plus fish caught and released than in any previous years. Although social distancing was strictly adhered to, the atmosphere at the outside lunchtime gathering was hence remarkably festive, as teams toasted their morning exploits and started to count their chickens.
The flies working were contradictory, but the common denominator was the fish were still feeding and not attacking gaudy patterns quite yet.
Those that didn’t charge back out on the water were soon scuttling to grab their gear, when the conditions turned South and the horrible wind started to dictate matters.
There are countless reasons in the fisherman’s bible of excuses, but in fly fishing wind will always be a determining factor and unfortunately baring a few windows of opportunity, it played the defining role for the rest of the weekend.
In total, 214 fish made it to the measuring tape, which considering the limited teams and blustering conditions wasn’t a bad result at all, unless you were one of the two anglers who didn’t trouble the scorers.
The stand out fly fisher became blatantly obvious in a single session, where he landed 10 fish over 50cm, needless to say he went on to take top honours with a grand total of 21 Trout, averaging 47cm.
But he didn’t stop there for the first time, the very same angler also caught the largest Trout of the weekend, being an 8lb, 62cm Rainbow Hen, take a bow Steve Benbow!
The teams that qualified for the illustrious final were, the very festive Fingerlings, Outdoor Warehouse, Smells Fishy, ZZ Tops and winning the first leg of the TCC, the talents of the TOPS fly fishing quartet.
History is a great teacher, but I guess one needs to be continually reminded that it is either the Weather gods or the Trout that will always have the last say.