Bells challenge: freezing but fruitful fishing

2011-08-20 00:00

IT was the 10th anniversary of the Bells Corporate Challenge recently and make no mistake — the date was engraved into the diaries before the better half’s birthday.

The format varied marginally — four sessions of fishing with the biggest specimen walking away with the latest Quintrex boat powered by Yamaha.

Two hundred anglers competed, the top five teams qualifying through three legs to get to a grand final — a formula that has been known to break the resolve of many teetotalers.

The rules are basic enough. Use whatever’s in your arsenal to drive as many wary trout to your net as possible.

It’s all about centimetres (which always sounds a lot better than inches in any context) and what your team notches up in each session.

Lady Luck touches every fly fisher at some time and what it really boiled down to on these trout lakes was who could land “The Beast”, once hooked.

You haven’t lost until your last cast, fourth and final session of fishing.

The Challenge is aptly named. Heavy snowfall transformed Nottingham Road into a winter wonderland two days before the final.

“The colder the better” is a painful fallacy and makes catching the fish a challenge indeed.

The weather predictably misbehaved, with the qualifying legs enduring blustering winds complemented by unseasonal rain, but the thick-skinned fly mongers remained undeterred. Incredibly, more fish were caught in the miserable conditions than when the sun finally came out to play.

In an effort to protect the shallows, float tubing was limited to between 9 am and 4 pm with many opting to tube to cover more water.

Those with a V-boat were able to work the entire dam’s surface area and get into otherwise inaccessible holes, consequently catching far more trout than those limited by bank access and wind direction.

The preliminary three legs witnessed 1 151 rainbow trout caught and released, with two beauties of 63 cm contending for the boat.

In the final 538 specimens were outwitted by a lot of perseverance, some wily angling and a dash of gratifying luck.

The top five teams all won fishing holidays, compliments of wildflytravel.com.

Eighty finalists finally tallied their ranking points, with the top five placing:

1. Safari Film and Africa — Billfishing trip to Hemingway’s, Kenya.

2. Leads 2 Business — Tiger fishing trip to Barotse with Anglezam.

3. Bells fly fishing — Saltwater trip to Nyati, Mozambique.

4. Best Med — Tiger fishing trip to Bumi Hills in Kariba.

5. Paarl Media — A week every year through Easy Holidays for life.

The big lady didn’t get away as Grevin Price took top honours with a 65 cm rainbow hen from Oakbrook dam (his only fish caught that morning), towing away the Yamaha boat and earning the dam’s owner, Pete Greene, a weekend getaway to Dugong beach lodge.

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