Sunday, 23 August 2015

Cheshire Catfish



2015 has been a pretty poor year for me so far, I’ve struggled to catch and had far too many blanks when I’ve been carp fishing, the one highlight of my year so far has been the mirror I caught on the Cromwell Social back in May, apart from that the biggest fish I’ve had so far this year have been mid doubles at best. I have had a few distractions this year though, most notably I took a break from carp and did some Barbel Fishing through the latter half of June and July. Early in August I found myself thinking about catching another Cheshire catfish so I headed back to the catfish lake I spent last summer on, not only would I be able to target catfish, the lake is a very decent runs water for catching carp so it would provide some much needed carp action along the way and offer a chance to rebuild some confidence after a poor run of form.

My first tangle with a catfish came on my first trip back to the lake and as usual I lost, the fish ran me up the lake past an angler who was fishing to my right and when I tried to apply pressure to stop the blistering run the hook pulled. I did have a bonus carp or two though, the biggest of which weighed 14lb on the nose.

Bonus 14lb Cheshire Carp from my first catfish session

I was back to the Cheshire catfish lake a few days later with a cunning plan. I put down a nice bed of Trout Pellets and fished a pellet rig made with Fox Pellet Pegs over the top of my baited spot. Not only did I bait with pellets for fishing on the bottom, I started feeding mixers over the top of the spot. The reason I did this was to pull the carp and roach in, the constant feeding of mixers would build the swim up and hopefully the catfish would be attracted to all the commotion, when I did this last year I actually ended up with cats competing for the mixers and I hooked and lost 3 of them on a Zig Rig!.

Check out the Fox Pellet Pegs, ideal for hair rigging pellets

Whilst feeding the mixers I had a few gulls visiting, I’ve written about this before, rather than stop feeding the swim I just increase the feed and let the birds have their fill, it wasn’t so easy this time though, what started off as a few gulls eventually turned into a full on flock and I was struggling to get rid of them, I ended up with so many gulls on me I couldn’t cope. I thought about stopping but I carried on, the birds were making a right commotion but that’s exactly what I wanted to pull in the predators and it worked a treat. Whilst I was busy feeding the birds my pellet rod fished underneath gave me a sharp pull then settled back down only to take off on a full blooded run. Straight away I knew I was into a catfish, the Rod buckled under the weight of the fish as it took off towards a bed of pads on the far bank. I tightened up the Clutch to try and slow it down, then I put my thumb on the spool to add some more resistance and luckily I managed to stop the fish from reaching sanctuary. The fight became quite dogged at this point and I had to scrap for every foot of line, these catfish really do fight hard and this one was no exception. Eventually, after a few more runs, I got the fish in front of me and luckily I had a mate on hand to help with the netting, he got the Net ready so I didn’t have to worry about it and I just guided the head of the catfish to the spreader block and he lifted the net and got the bulk of the fish into it, as he lifted some more the tail end of the catfish folded into the mesh and I’d finally won one.

Check out the video of my 22lb 12oz Cheshire Catfish from this story

I set up my Camera and Scales and put the fish on the mat for unhooking, I hadn’t thought much about unhooking a catfish before, I carry forceps but only a small pair and somewhere inside that cavernous mouth was my hook. Luckily moorsey had a longer pair of forceps and I used them to prize open the mouth so I could reach the hook with my own forceps, this worked and I managed to locate my hook and remove it although next time I go to this lake I’m going to make sure I’ve got my longer forceps with me and some gloves too because those pads inside the mouth are actually rows of tiny sharp teeth very capable of drawing blood if you're not careful. I had some pliers I could have used but the longer Forceps definitely helped and I’d recommend carrying them if your water contains any catfish.

With moorsey there to help I weighed the cat in at 22lb 12oz, I was happy with that, it was only my second trip and I’d bagged one already. The pics were a lot easier to do with an extra pair of hands, I didn’t have to worry about the remote or the timer, I just had to hold the cat straight and moorsey did the pics, thanks mate.

22lb 12oz Cheshire Catfish caught over a bed of trout pellets

With my first cat realeased and no damage to the Hooklink due to the hookhold being in the scissors I baited the rig with another pellet, topped the swim up with more trout pellets and started feeding the mixers again. There were certainly plenty of fish in my swim and along the way I had a couple of mirror carp weighing 13lb and 14lb 8oz. A couple of hours later the pellet rod was away again and I found myself hooked up to a second catfish. This one didn’t feel as big as the last one and although it fought very well it didn’t have the power to go on any long runs, it still resisted every step of the way but I always felt in control of this one. Eventually I slipped the net under a smaller fish and on the scales I got 16lb 2oz.

Click to watch my second Catfish being played and photographed

16lb 2oz Cheshire Catfish, the smaller half of my brace

My swim went quiet for a few hours after this fish but with two carp and two cats already banked I didn’t mind, I decided to start packing up at 8.30pm (started fishing at 1pm) and as I packed my gear ready for the walk back up the hill I had one last carp, a nice scaley fish but my smallest of the day at just 10lb 12oz. That last fish brought to an end a productive day, I finished up with a brace of my target catfish and a hatrick of mirrors to give me a little confidence boost. It’s late summer now and Autumn is just around the corner, despite the distractions of targeting barbel and catfish I’ve still invested quite a lot of my time in trying to catch a twenty from a certain water so it’s time to carry on with that quest.

Whatever fishing you do this Autumn be lucky and tight lines.

Mark.