Another busy season has come to a close in the valley, which for lodge managers and guides in the valley means it’s time to kick back, have one final fling before the rains set in. Not to forget, also doing some good for conservation in the Lower Zambezi. How do we manage this all at once? The Valley Classic of course!
The Valley Classic, hosted for its second year at Wildtracks is an invitation only, charitable fishing competition held at the end of the season. Originally conceived in 2010, the idea of the competition is to give everyone a chance to celebrate another successful year in the valley, put something back by supporting the work of Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) and, in true valley fashion, have a rip-snorting, hoof-flicking, name-throwing party.
The 2011 competition fielded 7 teams from lodges in the GMA and the National Park, all competing for the coveted and much admired floating trophy donated by Wildtracks this year. In fact, some teams were so keen that they even pitched up a whole day early for Captain’s meeting. After arrival of the other teams, the real Captain’s meeting and very lively team auction was held on Saturday evening and fishing got underway in earnest on Sunday. The competition followed a very basic catch and release format, targeting tigerfish, vundu, Cornish jack, nkupe, bottlenose, chessa, bream. Although there were no size restrictions achieving the daily bag limit of five individuals for each species attracted bonus points and encouraged teams to pursue as many different species as possible. Fishing on the first day ranged from fiercely competitive to fiercely hungover, although most teams got their bag of at least one species.
After a somewhat more relaxed evening on the boma, fishing got a bit more serious on day two as reputations and in some cases wild bets were at stake. After the final tally, the points were close at the top of the table, but at the end of the day it was the shockingly pink Master Baiters, led by Scott Brown (returning to the valley for a cameo appearance) who led his team of Brendan, Natalie and Debbie to sweep the field with a total of 235 points. They were closely followed by the WLZ Boozers on 215 points and in third place, Sausage Trackers who bagged a respectable 138 points in their first Valley Classic outing. The final evening saw a return to form for most of those who had suffered from ‘dehydration’ and other competition related afflictions during the day and the competition closed with much jubilation. There was also dancing. Furious dancing…
All told the team auction, corporate sponsorship from each team and individual donations the Valley Classic 2011 raised $4 000 to be donated to CLZ to support the excellent work that they are doing for conservation in the valley. This was twice the amount raised in last year’s competition and reflects the enthusiasm and commitment that all of us who are lucky enough to live and work in the Zambezi Valley have for ensuring that it is conserved for the future.
True to the spirit of the competition, Brendan Graham and Mick Kennedy who bought first and second placed teams respectively, both donated their auction prize money towards the final contribution to CLZ. A big thank you to all who participated, contributed organised and helped make the Valley Classic 2011 a great success. The magnificent Giant Rapala trophy currently resides at Royal Zambezi Lodge held by the Master Baiters (for those who wish to gaze upon it’s awesomeness and perhaps be inspired to make a further contribution towards conservation in the valley) until next year when it will return to Wildtracks for the Valley Classic 2012.