Trout Report – TCC Leg 3

956 Trout was the final tally for the qualifying legs of the TOPS Corporate Challenge, giving entrants from all around South Africa plenty to celebrate.

The 3rd Leg of  TCC was one for it’s  history books, with the enthusiasts attending who had never caught a fish before, nearly outnumbering the returning faithful, a testament to it’s reputation for festivities. As you’re reminded of at every gathering, this event has far less to do with fishing than it does for the time spent rekindling great stories with old friends and making some unforgettable memories with new ones.
But over 28000 Trout caught and released since its’ inception gives everyone who cracks the nod the promise of action on the water as well. It is after all, the excuse given to any better half as to why everyone makes the journey to WildFly Country.

The FNB was typically large, but that didn’t deter anyone from chasing the sun the following morning, looking for that first fish to settle the nerves. Most of the waters witnessed the Trout in full spawning mode, which can test one’s patience, but a selection of those colorful patterns yielded some very quick results for those who cottoned on. The all ladies ‘Women in Waders’ team had tongues wagging at lunchtime as they sauntered in with full score cards, impressing a lot of the lads who they’d out-partied the night before. To what extent this motivated any man to fish a little harder is debatable, but the ladies certainly took poll position for the 2nd session. The format of this prestigious event is what keeps amateurs coming back, as no matter how well you fair in the 1st session or day for that matter, to qualify for the final you have to perform as a team in each of the four sessions. The basic premise is every session at the TCC is a separate competition.

Not that you could vaguely describe these qualifying legs as competitive. Getting the entrants out from the sun drenched beer garden of Notties Hotel at lunchtime is the real challenge!
Day one saw 17 new converts to fly fishing hook up, with 8 landing their very first Trout.  James Hills set the early benchmark with his 61cm Rainbow Hen and Shane Schlanders showcased his prowess by netting 12 Trout that afternoon. As usual, Friday night was all about dining out on those great fishing stories, most of which had very little to do with catching fish.
A Winter Midlands morning will test the resolve of any angler, but getting out early does yield dividends as James Hill again showcased by landing 17 Trout himself in the 3rd session.
The T20 CWC had everyone off the water fairly early on the final session, but two individuals who stuck it out had their just rewards. Gavin Bailey landed a 60cm Rainbow Hen from Spring Grove dam and Vernon Kroeger swept the field with his 64cm Trout from Loch Bess, earning him the Largest Fish accolade. No surprises when James walked away with Top Fly fisher for this remarkable haul of 28 fish over the weekend!
Although our Proteas didn’t manage the hoist the cup, the atmosphere at the final prize giving was nonetheless one of celebration, with a few tongue in cheek awards at the expense of entrants whose performance off the field earned them a nomination in the WildFly Choice Awards. The ‘Women in Waders’ team took third place, the ‘Department of Fisheries’ (of no official standing) were runners up, but the clear front runners of the ‘Fly By Night’ foursome deservedly earned the title as winners of the Third Leg of The TOPS Corporate Challenge . No small feat when you consider that this very same team came stone last four years ago.

In a month’s time the top teams from these legs return to the legendary Notties to pit their wits against the wiley Trout in the coveted TOPS Corporate  Challenge Final of 2024!

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