The Tops! Corporate Challenge (TCC) 2018…

Article by Louise Steenekamp

Where to start…. this event is all but sacred to some of us. A social competition held annually on the pristine Wildfly waters of the KZN Midlands. Hosted by Gareth and Genna George, without either of whom it would never be the same!

It’s an opportunity to socialize with fishing buddies, enjoy the beautiful scenery offered by Mother Nature, check out the reality-show-type scenes in Notties Pub, and generally have a great time on and off the water.

2018 was going to be one of those years where life got in the way, and hubby (Martin Steenekamp) and I wouldn’t get to fish the TCC. Enter Wildfly, The Growler Brewing Company, WildGuys, and Boom Skaha!! – we had a team!!

By some stroke of good fortune, we landed up in a Growler WildGuys team, along with Edwin Bean (Ed) and Andrew Strachan. So off we went to fish the third qualifying leg of the 2018 TCC….

The first day of fishing started with the usual scene…. sub-zero temperatures, a few mm’s of ice all over the car, a frantic rush… Amidst all the chaos was that surreal sense of belonging, content in the knowledge that we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world!!

Approaching the first dam, the proverbial butterflies seem to pick up the party wherever those competing for the Betty Ford award the night before had left off! As you get closer to your first dam, nerves turn to anticipation, before transforming into sheer excitement!!

As any angler knows, there is a mammoth difference between no fish and one fish! Once that first fish is safely landed, the game is on!! Fishing was tough though – by far the hardest many of us have ever had to work for our points….

Fast forward to prizegiving night, and low and behold – we placed 5th! Good enough for inclusion in the Finals, where the top teams from all 3 qualifiers battle it out over another awesome weekend!

Being acutely aware of my own lack of time invested on the water over the past few years, I immediately commenced on a research binge any PhD prof would be proud of! I consumed (and re-consumed) every book, article, blog, video and comment I could get my eyes on. The amount of literature I covered on everything from trout behaviour, to entomology, to lake ecology and everything in-between even remotely related to trout, could probably fill up the Library of Congress….

Our team turned out to be well balanced, with some catching more fish, and others gravitating towards fewer but bigger quarries. Notwithstanding the ones that got away… the fishing gods were on our side this time, which landed us a decent score.

Our team had gone into Finals ranked #3, based on number of point scoring fish caught in the qualifier, so we started the weekend on a good vibe. As with any session fishing though, it was hard – actually impossible – to tell which team would end up where. Anything could happen at any time, and the final score usually boils down to the last session. You only need one fish to make the last session’s quota, so in this case size is everything!!

By prizegiving night, the whole team had a feeling that we might end up with a decent placement though, although at the time it was impossible to tell whether it was intuition, or just plain wishful thinking…

So except for Ed, whose nerves showed from the start of the count-up from 15 – we were all quite chilled. Then it got closer… 5th, 4th and 3rd had already been called, still with no mention of the Growler WildGuys. Next was a pause that seemed to hover like the Matrix time freeze… followed eventually by the announcement that the defending champions, team NFC, were 2nd!!

Now it was real….we knew it had to be true, but couldn’t believe it!! Alas – it was time to suspend our disbelief, we had actually won the TCC 2018 Finals!!

Thank you Wildfly, The Growler Brewing Company, WildGuys, and every atom that conspired to make this a reality!!

@TCC, see you next year!!

Louise Steenekamp

The 5 friends you take on a fly fishing trip article by Rhuan Human

It’s the one calendar entry that keeps any fly addict awake at night with excitement, a fly fishing epic that will potentially go down as the greatest adventure of your life! It starts with months of planning, hours on google maps and researching the internet, and culminates in a drunken weekend, with a bit of fishing thrown in the mix and a lifetime of memories to take home.

The difference between a good fishing trip and a legendary adventure teeters on the “wolfpack” you choose to run with. We all have our selected group of fishing mates but the ones who make a fishing expedition truly epic are cast in a certain mold.

The Researcher
Without him, there probably won’t be a trip, he’s the guy who spends more time on google earth than Kim Kardashian does on Snapchat. He starts tracking weather patterns 2 months ahead, and on the day of departure will hand out a travel kit that includes, a full trip itinerary with a time schedule, hand drawn detailed maps of the water that will be fished, a blank catch logbook and number 2 pencil.

A vital part of the team “The Researcher” makes sure no unexpected, unpleasant surprises pop up. Chances of him catching the biggest fish of the trip…? very good, he knows which flies work where and which areas will be most productive. If he spends this much time on planning a single trip you can bet his fishing skills have been refined and tailored with the same amount of effort.
Gadget Boy
The name says it all… There is no situation that arises that he can’t handle with a piece of technology. Gadget boy has got the latest and greatest tackle and apparel, his boots and waders look like they were designed in a lab at NASA and even though the lodge you are staying at is fully equipped, he brings along a complete pop-up dining room set and compact kitchen just to make sure. On the water, he looks like a walking talking cast show and whatever you do don’t ask him about the fishing apps he has on his phone. 

If you do forget something at home or even break a rod on the trip, “Gadget Boy” has got your back.
Don’t worry about him catching the biggest fish of the trip, he’s usually preoccupied with his toys.
Davy Crockett 
This dude was made for the outdoors. He is in his element when he is outside in the wild, he doesn’t own a pair of waders and wet wades in 9 degrees Celsius, he gets by with a few of his favourite flies pinned to a faded John Dear trucker cap and a Swiss army knife hooked on to his belt. He loves to give “Gadget Boy” a hard time.

When things go wrong in the wilderness, this is the guy you want by your side. Your group’s very own Bear Grills. Probably has the best chance of hooking the big one, I mean this is his backyard.
Beer Can
The life of the party… He will lose his sh@t if there is no space in the car for at least 5 cases of beer, avoid a very unpleasant situation by dedicating packing space for beer. He refuses to drive and usually rides shotgun because traditionally he cracks the first cold one as you leave the driveway and follows up with “let the games begin boys” or something to that effect.

“Beer Can” will serve as entertainment for the week, armed with tons of outrageous stories and inappropriate jokes, there is never a dull moment with him around.

He irritates the rest of the crew with the amount and quality fish he tends to catch… With beer in one hand and a busted old fly rod in the other don’t be surprised if he catches the big one.
The Instagrammer
Often you forget what his face looks like because it is constantly hidden behind a camera lens and or iPhone. He’s got a thousand gigs worth of sunsets, emerging insects and close up shots of fly fishing rods clasped by some hand model and he can list every photography filter known to man but struggles to recall the name of the fly he just tied on.

The bonus is, your trip will be well documented with this fellow on tour and he has a knack for making 10 inches look like 20. It’s hard to operate a camera and fly rod at the same time so I wouldn’t bet on the “Instagrammer” to nail the big one.

Trophy Still Water Trout

Article by: Fred Steynberg – Linecasters

South Africa has over the passed couple of decades established itself as a notable destination for catching trophy, still water trout. More and more suitable, land locked still waters are being created and stocked with trout to support the ever-growing fly fishing industry.  However, many of these still waters are not suitable for trout reproduction as they lack the qualities necessary for trout to spawn and eggs to hatch (eg. flowing water and gravel beds).  On the other hand, with careful stocking from reputable hatcheries, quality fish can easily grow in excess of 10 pounds.

Still water fly fishing for trout has often been regarded as humdrum or unexciting when compared to the stalking of trout on rivers. I believe this view can be changed if fly fishers will take a moment to understand the behaviour and feeding patterns of these still water trout. The selectiveness of large or mature fish in still waters is often underestimated and often a less successful angler may place the onus of his failure on weather conditions or the fishery.

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