The final of any gathering can often be a tense affair, the urge to win giving rise to a little friction. Which, when fuelled with huge rewards can create some fierce competition.
That is until you throw fish and the good cheer of fellow fly addicts into the equation.
There was no doubt that every team that made it into the final of the TOPS Corporate Challenge was there to teach the Trout a few lessons and hopefully, in the process walk away withe the lions share of the spectacular prizes. But, when a fine bunch of guys and gals get together, imbibe a little and start to embellish on the great fishing stories that they’ve shared together, the festivities soon drown any harbouring ambitions of glory at another anglers expense.
The morning after the fnb, made for some protracted knot tying, but the fish soon came calling, with reports of multiple Trout over 60cm in the very first session, the benchmarks were being set.
The all-ladies team came charging out the blocks, winning the first session, catching 15 of the 101 Trout landed. This news spread very quickly through the pub lunch at Notties, causing the lads to dig deeper into their fly boxes. A man’s fragile ego is nothing if not a motivator.
Typically the weather weighed in that afternoon, with temperatures plummeting and the wind blowing most anglers off the water. The result being that only 61 fish were tallied for the second session, fortunately a 60cm Brown Trout made an appearance, giving the anglers inspiration to keep going.
The sun rose on Saturday to a spring in everyone’s step, seeing that the front had passed and there was promise of some fly action.
Rod pressure will always make the Trout a little fly shy, causing many to change tactics to fool the fish, with no sure fire recipe when it comes to fishing. The Fly By Night team, shot into the lead after winning session 3, which saw a predictable further 60 Trout netted. All they had to do in the final session was catch a single fish each and the title was theirs.
The tagged fish and chance to win a boat, compliments of ONE Insurance had everyone back on the water for that 4th and final session. Sacrificing the chance to watch the Boks crush the Welsh Dragons was a great indication of how much the teams were enjoying themselves in WildFly country. The general consensus was do less and let the fish find your fly, allowing the thirsty anglers to appreciate a cold Heineken with their line in the water. You have to love a sport where you can enjoy a few bevvies while you participate!
Every single team who makes it to the final wins a holiday for their entire team, to a great destination in Africa and hence you really wish you could bottle the atmosphere on Saturday night.
As always the tongue in cheek awards, make light of antics on and off the field and no-one is above a little ribbing, as was evident with Paul Mindry from the Spar team getting the Donald Trump award for catching a fish after the final whistle, attempting to steal the show….never let the truth get in the way of a good anecdote is the WildFly Choice Award motto.
An incredible 10 fish over 60cm were landed by the fly fishing talents of the finalists, bring the impressive tally of 18 Trout breaching this trophy yardstick for the 2023 TOPS Corporate Challenge. That nearly a quarter of the fish caught eclipsed the half meter mark is testament to these waters. When you consider that 969 fish were caught and released in this years’ TCC, that’s some quality Trout waters.
The largest fish of the final went to Bryce Jooste, for his 61cm (tied by Amy Visser), but James Hill’s 65cm in Leg 1 makes him the title holder for largest Trout in this year’s event, and top fly fisher of the final went to Grevin Price, for his 16 fish averaging 44cm (interestingly he only caught two fish on the final day, one in each session).
It’s always a closely contested affair in this entertaining format of session fishing, with it boiling down to a single fish in the last session….you’d be surprised how difficult that can sometimes be.
The result was a count out for 2nd and 3rd place, the Reel Wanderers earning them selves a trip to the luxurious Baines River Camp on the lower Zambezi, pipping the ‘Stranger Dangers’, who get enjoy a fantastic Orange River holiday with Kalahari Outventures.
And a single Trout gave Team NFC top honours earning a coveted trip for Trophy tigers to the renowned Matoya lodge in Barotseland.
Needless to say the celebrations continued well into the wee hours, as fellow fly fishers relived their exploits on and off the field. As we’ve come to expect from the TOPS Corporate Challenge, it never fails to spawn a great fishing story and create some unforgettable memories and this is why it remains SA’s leading angling event!