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

Advertisements

The 5 friends you take on a fly fishing trip

Fishtube.tv 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.

Kamberg Trout Festival 2016

Fishing the Kamberg Trout Festival is regarded as participating in one of South Africa’s premier Trout Fishing events.  The Kamberg Trout Festival is hosted in the awesome Kamberg Valley, where the Kamberg Community (affectionately known as the Kambergians) work together to offer their private waters to the entrants on an annual basis.

This year saw the 20th anniversary of this tournament, but the dry and warm conditions made it one of the toughest events in its 20 year history.

The WildGuys decided to enter a team after some convincing from members that fished the tournament in previous years.  The team consisting of Wian Terblanche, Pieter van der Merwe, Edwin Bean and Scott Hamilton ended up in 5th place despite drawing two dams that didn’t produce a single fish the whole tournament.

Day 1

The first session was an extream disappointment, we drew the dam Northington and upon arrival just looking at the colour of the water we realized that it was not going to be easy.  We all blanked the session and so did the dam for the rest of the tournament.

The second session was a revelation, we drew the dam Plover / Sandpiper – a dam we are very familiar with as it also features in the Tops Corporate Challenge (TCC).  The dam was well stocked and I personally caught 17 fish in this session.  Only 2 decent fish of 47 and 46 respectively among the seventeen though.  Pieter, Edwin & Scott also got some fish in this session and as a team we managed to secure 25 fish on our scorecard for day 1.  This achievement put us on top of the leader board as a team and myself on top of the individual standings.

Day 2

We had the choice between Riverside Top and Riverside Bottom for the third session.  We started at Riverside Top with a very promising dam set in a beautiful landscape, the dam was crystal clear and Edwin opened with a 41 cm specimen caught on a white death.  Fishing was a bit slow until we moved to Riverside Bottom.  While Piet was still fighting a beauty of 53 cm Scott hooked into a 48 cm specimen.  We eventually ended up with 8 fish for session 3.

Unfortunately we drew Little Kariba for the last session – another dam that didn’t produce a single fish in the tournament.

As a team we ended up in 5th place out of 40 teams – this was a great achievement considering our dam draw.  Personally I got knocked of the top spot and into second place.  a 23 cm specicemen would have kept me in the number 1 spot but it was not to be…

Top 20 Teams

Top 50 Fisherman

Top 50 Fisherman

We will definitely be back for the 21st celebrations of the Kamberg Trout Festival in 2017!

WildGuys get Dual Sponsorship for 2016 Tops Corporate Challenge

The Tops at Spar Corporate Challenge (TCC) celebrates its fifteenth anniversary this year. This is the premier fly-fishing event in South Africa and is designed for corporates to entertain their clients or just to take a break from the pressures of everyday corporate life. The event is fun, competitive and exciting – an adventure of the highest order and also facilitates a networking platform to socialise with fellow corporates.

WildGuys

Established in 2001, the Corporate Trophy Challenge continues to attract and enthuse entrants from all over Southern Africa. Hosted on the exclusive Wildfly Waters in the foothills of the Drakensberg, it provides a setting and atmosphere second to none. With each team guaranteed to fish 8 of the 15 exclusive trout waters, the bias of a dam draw is also negated. Bottom line is that to a large extent you take out the highly competitive nature of the event, as every fisherman realizes that this festival has a lot more to do with than just fishing. Each team experiences a long weekend of fishing festivities that only the legendary Notties Hotel can provide.

 

pm.ideas

WildGuys

Since the inception of this gathering, over thirteen thousand trout have been caught and released in these exclusive still waters. On the water, four colleagues challenge fellow competitors over two days. The format rewards average size and consistency of catch over the four fishing sessions. Each team earns a combined score that gives them a ranking which is carried through each session.

The top five teams from each leg stage makes it through to the illustrious final…

The WildGuys would like to thank the Growler Brewing Company & pm.ideas for the sponsorship. For the first time ever, the WildGuys will be entering three (3) teams into the tournament. All members have nicknames infamously dubbed from antics in previous tournaments:

WildGuys
• Wian Terblanche (First in – Last out)
• Jan Steyl (Hunky Bugger)
• Pieter van der Merwe (Old Style Hopper)
• Keith Nethercote (Speedy Loops)

Growler WildGuys
• Scott Hamilton (Wader Raider)
• Bryan Bean (Megaladon)
• Ashley Boag (Nomad)
• Quinton Heydra (Timberman)

pm.ideas WildGuys
• Edwin Bean (Footloose)
• Sean van Rooyen (Windknot)
• Andrew Strachan (Osbloed Evanesce)
• Rajendra Dhaniraj (Lone Ranger)

All teams will be fishing the third leg of the tournament which will run from 7 to 10 July 2016. If one or more teams are placed in the top 5 positions, they will be competing in the final which is scheduled from 28 to 31 July 2016.

Trout Colours

Pike on Fly in a snowy Amsterdam

On route to a buisness trip in Spain we decided to do a quick detour via Amsterdam to target the aggresive Northern Pike on fly. a Quick google search yielded tons of dutch results, but the first english wesite was that of certified fishing guide Mike Dijkstra. We booked a day with him via e-mail and arranged our travel and accomodation accordingly.

The Northern Pike (Esox lucius) gets its name from its resemblance to the pole-weapon known as the pike. Its binomial name translates to ‘Pitiless water-wolf’ as “esox” means ‘pitiless’ and “lucius” means ‘water-wolf’. Various other unofficial trivial names are: American pike, common pike, great northern pike, Great Lakes pike, grass pike, snot rocket, slough shark, snake, slimer, slough snake and northern gator – due a head similar in shape to that of an alligator.

The northern pike is a relatively aggressive species, especially with regards to feeding. For example, when food sources are sparse, cannibalism develops. This cannibalism occurs when the ratio of predator to prey is two to one.

Pike are capable of “fast start” movements, which are sudden high-energy bursts of unsteady swimming. Many other fish exhibit this movement as well but most fish use this mechanism to avoid life-threatening situations. For the pike, however, it is a tool used to capture prey from their sedentary positions.

pike-eat-pike

Mike picked us up from our hotel at 8:30 and suggested we go to a natural lake where we could fish of boats. The weather was not on our side with overcast skies and breezy winds. We arrived at our location about 30 minutes later where Mike offered us a warm cup of coffee and some oilskins… He then gave us each a fly that looked like a marlin lure… These flies are about 40 cm in lenght and it was then when I realized why he told us to bring our 9 weight outfits…

We fished in a mixture of snow and sleet and lost all feeling in our hands, on top of that casting a 40cm fly even on a 9 weight was not an easy task… Later during the day the weather subsided and I decided to change to a local tigerfish fly which we took with… This proved much easier to cast and I could get some proper distance between myself and the fly…

It was when the sun eventually produced itself and the clouds dissapeared, that a little pike decided to come out and play… He grabbed my tiger fly with such verocity that I almost lost the rod…

after a minute or two I had him next to the boat, I asked Mike to remove the fly after seeing his teeth, we took a quick photo and allowed him to roam free again… I beleive we would have had a lot more success in better weather conditions but at least I have another species on my cv and a tick on the bucket list.

Hakuna Matata – What a Wonderful Place

After reading a review on Hakuna Matata on flyloops.net myself and Pieter seized the opportunity to test this place of promise and “no worries” against our fishing skills.  We were in the area doing our skippers licenses and decided to give the place a late afternoon try.  We arrived just after 1pm to be greeted by the friendly Stella who immediately showed us the way to the rapids which was in close proximity to the main venue.

Hakuna Matata
Hakuna Matata is dubbed as a river adventure resort and boast a number of accommodation options and activities.  With our little time to explore the venue, we didn’t even look at any of these and immediately jumped into our waders to get our lines wet.  The owners live by the motto that “Excellent customer service is not an act, it’s a habit!” so we will be testing the accommodation and alternative activities (if there could ever be any alternatives to fishing) at some later stage.

We were into the fish immediately and caught a few small yellows followed by a decent 2kg fish and then all hell broke loose…

Continue reading