Trophy is such a relative term, as your average catch might be another angler’s personal best, hence size must also be in the eye of the beholder. But benchmarks do determine accolades and the quest for a double digit Trout remains the goal for many a fly fisher.
There are few destinations in South Africa where this is realistic in terms of waters that can consistently produce specimens of such size. This is why we tend to measure our fish in length, giving us many yardsticks and great fishing stories in our quest for trophies. Half a meter is where this starts being a Trout of stature. It will probably weigh over 5 pounds and if stocked from a fingerling will punch well above its’ weight.
This has been the goal of the TOPS Corporate Challenge since inception; to give every angler a story they can dine out on, revolving around the festivities that accompany tales of Trout landed and lost. The first leg of this year’s TCC was stand out performance by all the entrants in this regard, with everyone getting stuck into some quality fish, making fresh memories and tall tales.
The weather didn’t make it easy, but a calm window in the first morning session saw a remarkable 105 fish make it to the measuring net.
Wayne Simmons was the stand out performance, having never picked up a fly rod or relaxed in a float tube. He then proceeded to catch a 48cm followed by 52cm, then a 53cm fish, topping his morning session off with a 59cm Rainbow, a blistering start to his weekend and a sure way to get him hooked into the sport!
Ivo Baratovich also set the pace on the big fish leaderboard with a 61cm beauty!
Predictably the weather changed, with winds whipping the waters, chasing many a fair weather fly fisher back to the comforts of Notties pub. Those that braved the conditions added another 48 Trout to the day’s tally! One hundred and fifty three Trout is reason enough to celebrate, but it was the remarkable statistic of 58 of these being fish over half a meter in length that impressed
The WildFly waters were living up to expectation!
The conditions continued to spiral, with winds speeds demanding anchors if you hoped to fish from any vessel, but it certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm with the majority of anglers hunkering down and keeping their flies in the water. Surprisingly despite the pressure drop, another 49 Trout were measured and released.
Thank goodness this is a sport in which one can enjoy a bevvie whilst participating, giving reason for the anglers to look for that silver lining in the ominous cloud build up. You can’t sugarcoat miserable fishing conditions, but you can elect to not fight them. Notties got very festive that afternoon, which was evident from the fourth and final session returns, a paltry 29 fish poking their heads above water.
The stories of antics off the field were immortalised in the evening prize giving, much to the delight of team mates jibing each other, but there were some statistics of great fishing that deserved laurels. The total count of Trout measuring over 50cm, increased to 78 and a remarkable 6 trophies over 60cm were caught from 5 different dams. Denzil Ulyate tipped the scales for biggest fish with his 64cm Rainbow.
Sven Turner took honours as the top fly fisherman, with 10500 points, maneuvering his team, the Beserkers into third place, followed by the Spar team and Jacaranda Fly Fishing. Runners up were the talents of the Fish On team and the eventual winners of the 1st Leg of the Tops Corporate Challenge were Fins and Feathers. A point of note was that each of the top two teams, had lady fly fishers, proving that the fairer sex can out-fish any man!
As we build up to the next leg in a month’s time, the Trout will no doubt switch into their spawning behaviour, demanding a little colour and smaller point flies. Here’s hoping the cold fronts stay aw