Well we are finally into autumn, I’ve been fishing a rather large reservoir of 34 acres for the last few weeks, this has required me to change gear and fish at range with some Terry Edmonds style long distance casting .
I’ve had 3 fish from the water in 3 trips but last weekend I was there when we had high air pressure and the water fished very badly. I was keen to get back again but when I looked at the weather for the weekend it was high pressure again. I was gutted, being a short session angler I have to pick my venues carefully and this reservoir was a 170 mile round trip taking an hour and a half there and the same back. I wasn’t keen on travelling all that way when I knew the conditions were poor so I stayed nearer to home and dropped onto my favourite little runs water so I’d be in with a chance of a bite. It was the obvious choice, when you fish short sessions you have to maximise your fishing, I’m very happy to have a crack at hard waters but I’ve learned over the years that timing is everything and high pressure days on tough waters invariably leads to a blank, specially on limited time.
So the catfish lake it was, after a quick trip to the tackle shop to pick up some Fluorocarbon Line for my winter fishing I dropped onto the lake and was happy to find just one angler present. My favourite swim was empty so it was an easy choice, I had a familiar swim and I felt confident I’d catch this trip, given the high pressure conditions I was happier fishing here rather than being sat on a harder water. Last weekend I spent the day watching the water for signs of fish and I always felt like I was wasting my time, despite the same conditions I didn’t feel that way this time. I started with a boilie on one rod, it’s not available anymore but I’m still using the old Nash Scopex Squid Red, when my current batch of this bait runs out I’ll have no hesitation in switching to the Squid 4G which is the new version of this old classic. The boilie rod was fished tight to some pads on the far bank, it’s a known patrol route and an absolute banker for a carp even in high pressure conditions.
The second rod was fished with Trout Pellets, I used a pellet rig using the Fox Pellet Pegs to hold the bait on the hair and this was fished in the middle of the lake over a bed of 16mm coppens trout pellets. It pays to hedge your bets on the catfish lake and with warm conditions for the time of year it was possible the cats may still be active. Catfish love pellets and so do the carp so hair rigged trout pellets is a very good tactic if you don’t mind catching both species of fish.
I was at the lake and fishing by midday, that’s early for me but the dark nights are drawing in so I have to be out earlier if I want to fish for at least 6 hours. With the rods out I settled down to watch the water. It took quite a while before I saw a carp cruise through the swim, it came straight down the middle of the lake and over the bed of Trout Pellets which were on the bottom in 4ft of water. The carp must of known they were there, as soon as the fish passed the bed of pellets it turned and swam over them again. This went on for twenty minutes or so as the fish circled the bait, during that time it was joined by other fish and looking back now, once that first carp found the bait I saw fish activity in my swim for the rest of the session, they knew the baits were there but something was holding them back?. I just figured it was the high pressure, although they were interested in the pellets they weren’t really in a feeding mood?, with hindsight I may have been wrong about that?.
At 2pm I had a short pull on the pellet Rod, my old school Monkey Climber pulled to the top of the needle and stayed there for a few seconds before the slow run continued, I’d seen this type of run before and as I picked up the rod to strike I knew I was hitting into a catfish. This proved to be the case as a huge patch of bubbles hit the surface as I hit a solid lump. It was stalemate for a few seconds before the catfish realised it was hooked and then the fun started as it ripped 40 yards of line off my spool against a fairly tight Clutch. All I could do was hang on until the fish came to a halt then try and pump it back towards me.
After the first initial run I was still attached to the fish which was promising!, I managed to get the fish in front of me when again it set off on another unstoppable run, I stayed with it and eventually it came to a halt just short of the far bank pads this time. I pumped the fish back towards me again, all the time I was wondering how long my Hooklink would hold out, with those rasping ‘sandpaper like’ pads in its mouth it would surely be a matter of time before the line parted?. I was fifteen minutes into the fight when eventually I had the fish in close again but I wasn’t expecting the cats next move, it turned towards me and crashed straight into the pads that were either side of my swim. The fish buried itself good and proper and at this point I thought there’s no way I’m getting this one in. Fortunately the pads were right on top of my swim and I could apply pressure from directly above which is always a massive help when fish get stuck in weed or pads. I could feel my Main Line grating on the pads stems and for a while it was stalemate with me not being able to bring the cat up and the cat just sitting there. My lucky break came when the cat thrashed in the pads, the pads were dying off anyway and the catfish just helped to trash them even more and I found myself back in direct contact. I was able to lead the fish out of the pads and after a couple of shorter runs it was ready for the net. I sunk the net low and pulled the head right up to the spreader block before lifting, this put the bulk of the fish in my landing net and as I lifted the net the tail end of the fish folded and dropped into net. What an epic fight that was!.
I took a few minutes to set up my camera and scales, in all the excitement I’d forgotten to turn my Video Camera on, I forget to do this regularly which is not good when you need the footage for your blog!. I did record the pictures being done though and you can look at that in the clip below. This catfish is now my biggest fish of 2015 so far although only by 4oz, it weighed in at exactly 23lb.
With the pictures done I released my biggest catfish of the year and checked my rig and mainline, fortunately the fish was hooked in the scissors so no damage at all to the hooklength and no damage to the main line either despite the grating sensation when the cat fight took to the pads?, I run 3 or 4 rod lengths of the main line through my fingers to check it and I was happy with no signs of damage, had the line suffered in any way I’d have stripped it off and started again, I never leave anything like that to chance and it pays to check everything is ok after a protracted fight like that. I have to say the Pro Clear Line I'm using is superb, it's tough enough to cope with situations like this and its a dream to cast with, it's probably the best casting line out there.
With the rig and mainline both ok I put on a fresh pellet and topped up my swim with more pellets. By now I was seeing carp regularly and there was plenty of bubbling going on where the pellets had gone in. 4 times during the afternoon I had a sudden big patch of bubbles appear on the surface followed by a bow wave out of the swim?. I wasn’t sure what was happening?, clearly something was spooking them but I had no indication on the rods, not even a knock or a slight rattle of the rod tip?. I was fishing with a backlead and I suppose a fish could have touched the line despite it being pinned down as they were obviously grubbing about on the bottom?. I also thought the rig might not have been sitting right so I brought it in and checked it, the rig looked ok and the hook was sharp so I just reset it with another cast but it didn’t help and I couldn’t buy another bite on the pellet rod despite the obvious fishy activity out in front of me.
All the time I was engrossed in watching fish activity over my bed of Trout Pellets I’d forgotten about the banker rod on the far pads, at 5pm I was sharply reminded of it when the monkey climber on that rod smacked the top of the needle in typical carp style. I was so close to the rod I could strike without standing up so I hit it as I got up, clamped the spool and walked backwards giving no line. The carp held on the edge of the pads before kiting sideways into open water where I slackened off and played it in gently. This fish was no match for the cat or for my gear and it came in easily, it did put up some resistance when it came to the pads on my bank but by moving my rod top in the opposite direction to the one the carp was pulling in I was able to keep it out of the pads and wear it down ready for the net. Eventually the fish had enough and I slipped a low double common of 12lb 12oz into the net, a typical fish for the water.
I managed to film most of the fight for this common specially the close in stuff where it fought best. Sadly that was my last action and although I fished on until 6.30pm I couldn’t tempt another despite the fish clearly liking those pellets. I was happy with the short session, a carp and a catfish in six and a half hours was a fair reward any time let alone the high pressure and poor fishing conditions I had on this trip.
We are well into October now and the weather is cooling down, the clocks will be going back shortly and winter is nearly upon us. I’ll be out trying to catch carp again this winter but I’ll be mixing it with some predator fishing too.
Whatever fishing you do this winter, stay warm and tight lines.