A single victory can be attributed to beginner’s luck. But Gareth George suspects that one of his fellows is a veritable fish whisperer after three.
The current trout season will see a few narratives evolve, but one in particular needs to be recorded so history books reflect the facts. Father Time and memory loss notwithstanding, they’d be hard to embellish.
Now John keeps company with a bunch of fanatical anglers, who dispense more advice than they would ever accept. They’re also partial to a drop or two of a well crafted brew. It’s at one of these infamous gatherings that conversation turned to trout festivals and the inaugural Notties Invitational, where the stage was set.
Covid-19 put paid to fishing for six months, so fast forward to level one and the relief of being able to fish again. Hence, when the TOPS at SPAR Corporate Challenge (TCC) announced the dates, it was time to dust off the float tube. John’s team comprised some notable personalities whose accomplishments on the water were significantly outweighed by their enthusiastic performance in Notties pub.
Now many people think kicking around in a float tube on a dam is all about potluck, but the format of the TOPS at SPAR Challenge rules out any flukes! And John knew that if you wanted to consistently land a catch, find the weed and fish the spaces in between. His theory being that less movement translated into more fish. A strategy he proved by drilling the fish in session one. Good fortune, a blessing from the fishing gods or perhaps a well stocked dam, one might have thought. However, John proved in the next three sessions – fishing completely different waters – that his technique set him apart from the field. Beginner’s luck? A weekend tally of 27 trout earned him the accolade as the tournament’s top fly fisher.
But it didn’t end there.
I joined him at the Swartberg trout festival. Being the old bullets, myself and Grevin Price, sensibly joined the lads a little later, arriving at the dam to see all three team mates fighting fish. The fish weren’t feeding, they were feasting and we all benefited.
Despite everyone catching, on everything from Taddies, Damsels and Minnows to small nymphs and even dry flies, none measured up to the trout John was doing battle with. He rode a purple patch like it was Sea Biscuit!
An unusual moment of silence was broken by another screaming reel. After a bruising bout, it was the fish we all dream of – a double digit, 70 cm rainbow hen and one that John Larter confidently brought to the net. At 10.5 lbs. it was his personal best and the biggest fish of the event.
He’d pulled off the trifecta, a feat that will probably not be repeated. So, in my not so humble opinion, he is the undisputed 2020 individual trout champion.