Round number 2

The second leg of the TOPS at SPAR Corporate Challenge ticked all the boxes for conviviality and good cheer as well as good tallies of fish hooked, netted, measured and released. Gareth George reports.

Perfect sunny but cold conditions could not stop the anglers landing sizeable catches

Rocking his TOPS beanie and his catch is Mark Venter

TOPS at SPAR Corporate Challenge (TCC) leg 2 was destined to be a success. The weather was way more balmy and amenable than the first leg for starters, but it was also clear from the opening night at Notties that this bunch of anglers were in a festive mood too.

The high spirits and good cheer were easily attributed to the incredible gift packs from TOPS at SPAR and Heineken which were doled out upon arrival.

For many entrants, this was their first TOPS experience and one likely to be remembered for many years to come. For a few, it was their very first fly fishing trip ever and when anglers such as this land their first trout on fly, the occasion is etched into memory by the celebrations that follow. A shout out must go to Alan Browning, NJ Smit and Clyde Mahoney for doing just that. Alan actually hooked four beauties within the first half hour, creating a fly fishing expectation that’s going to be hard to beat!

Overall, 285 trout were caught, measured and released, with another 78 hooked and sadly lost – for those who were brave enough to admit it. But it was again the average size fish in WildFly waters that had tongues wagging. Five different dams out of the exclusive 15 waters fished, produced a specimen in excess of 60cm, and 74 individual trout were each measured more than half a meter in length.

In this wonderful event format, it is all about each session, ensuring that everyone stood a chance of making the final (which would guarantee their team a fly fishing holiday somewhere in Africa). With this levelling of the playing field, it allowed even the most casual of fly fishers to qualify. Sean Joubert caught 13 trout is his first session, single-handedly carrying his team into contention.

It’s all about getting on the board in each of the four fishing sessions and only the final Saturday afternoon decides who goes through, keeping a team’s enthusiasm at an all time high.

The hilarious antics off the field were too many to detail, and in the spirit of “what goes on tour should always stays on tour”, there were some highlights recognised by the WildFly choice awards, which provided much hilarity come prize giving.

The largest individual trout was a rainbow hen of 65cm caught by James Hills and the top fly fisher was awarded to Mark Venter who managed to land 11 fish at an average of 51cm – a formidable tally of good sized trout.

The Fly Fishing Consultants, Reel Wanderers, Bottom Feeders and Rhino Energy cruised into the grand final with the Fly By Nights nailing the gold medal with two first placings out of the four sessions.

As always the prizes from Hardy, Frontier Fly Fishing, Greys, Outdoor Warehouse, Airflo, Horizon, Scientific Anglers, Xplorer and WildFly made for big smiles, especially when most had nothing to do with their fishing prowess.

Glasses were raised to TOPS at SPAR for their sponsorship but also to the time spent with good mates which always outweighs the fish that oblige the tempting fly.