Sunday 2 July 2017

Pellet Fishing for UK Wels Catfish

For my first trip of the year targeting UK Catfish I wanted to try an area of the catfish lake I’d never fished before, at least not for catfish anyway. I had a feeling it would turn out to be a good spot but unfortunately I found the area occupied on my arrival at the lake so I’ll have to leave that particular gut feeling for another time. With my new swim ruled out my best option was to drop into my favourite swim in the middle of the lake so at 2pm I pitched up in a very familiar swim and gave myself half a day to bank a wels catfish from the lake. In June it’s half light at 10pm so I had a maximum of 8hrs to bag a fish for the film that’s embedded into this article below, little did I know what was going to follow!.

First up I had to tie my rigs. Catfishing for me is very much a compromise so I just use a ‘stepped up’ carp rig. I use a size 8 Korda Kurv Hook with 25lb ESP Sink Link Braid as the hooklength. I simply hair rig a single 16mm Coppens Pellet then put the hook on knotless knot style. The hooklength is around 10 inches long (just less than the length of a ruler) and the lead arrangement is a homemade inline lead with 18 inches of Rig Tubing behind it. It’s a very standard type of carp rig and the idea is to fish for cats and carp whilst having the strength in the hooklink to land both.

My pellet rig for UK Catfish, it's just a stepped up carp rig

I rigged up a bait pretty quickly and under armed the first pellet out 15yds or so. On top of this hookbait I put a bed of around 100 pellets although I did lose count whilst putting them out so that’s a ball park figure. Once the pellets were out and the rod was on the Delkim I began to sort out the second rod, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this rod, did I put another trout pellet on and go all out for cats or compromise and target carp on the boilie?. I thought I’d sit down and have a think about that for a while so I left the second rod on the rest and began feeding mixers over the top of the pellet rod that was already fishing. I’ve done this before in the past and as well as attracting carp to feed in my swim, the carp feeding activity also pulls in the catfish.

I never did get that second rod out, I pondered what to do with it for just under an hour then my first run came to the pellets. It was the usual stuttery type of take you get from a catfish, they seem to take the bait and just not realise they are hooked and this one was no exception. I hit the rod and found myself attached to my first catfish of the year. It lacked the power of some of the larger cats that inhabit the lake but despite ‘only’ being 14lb 8oz it was still a powerful fish and it gave me the run around a little bit, specially close in as I had quite heavy beds of lily pads either side of me. All went well landing the fish and in less than an hour of fishing I’d already got some film footage.

Because ESP Sinklink is a braid for carp fishing I make sure I check it after every catfish, the ‘sandpaper’ type pads in the cats mouth can damage a braided hooklength and this had happened during the playing of this mid double catfish. I stripped the rig down and tied a new one using the same hook and the same Swivel and Kwik Link, basically I just replaced the damaged braid with new stuff.

I was fishing again in no time and half an hour later it was déjà vu as I picked up a second wels catfish similar in size to the first one. I weighed the second cat in at 13lb 8oz, just a pound smaller than the first. Neither of these fish were what I was really after but if the cats kept feeding as they were the law of averages would mean a bigger one sooner or later, so again I tied up another new rig to replace the braid that had been damaged during the fight and under armed the bait out. After each wels catfish caught I was also topping up the swim with a further 50 Coppens Pellets so there was always plenty of bait to keep them interested.

After a quick brace of mid double cats it went quiet and I managed to have a brew and a bite to eat before it kicked off again. I was still fishing with the one rod and again it signalled a stuttery take that suggested another catfish had taken the trout pellet hookbait. Straight away I could tell I’d hooked into the right sized fish as my line peeled off the Reel under pressure, the difference in power between a mid double and a mid twenty was clear and I had to fight this one all the way to the landing net. I had a lucky break with this fish when it came straight over and through the pads on my left hand side, I was in a bit of trouble for a moment but once it cleared the pads it was just a case of keeping it under control until it was ready to Net, which thankfully wasn’t long. On the scales I got 25lb exactly, not quite as big as I was hoping for but it would certainly do!.

By now I was into a routine, again I changed the rig due to some damage to the hooklength braid, I had a new rig tied and out and another 50 pellets on top of it in no time. Half an hour later it was away again and again I found myself hanging on as my line disappeared from the reel at a rate, like the last mid twenty I had just as much trouble with this one, indeed this catfish eventually found its way into the pads to my right and for a few minutes I was locked in a stalemate unable to move the fish. I piled on the pressure to my left then again to my right in the hope of getting the fish moving again, when I’d done this I applied as much pressure as I could in an upwards direction to try and get the fish up near the surface, this worked a treat and I managed to steer the fish into the open and keep it under control until I could get the Landing Net under it. My second twenty in half an hour weighed in at 24lb 2oz and it made up a very nice brace indeed with the 25lb fish that came just before it.

I put the rod out again but after a couple of bruising scraps lasting more than 20 minutes each I was knackered. When the rod went again for a fifth time I was starting to think ‘not again’, thankfully the fifth wels catfish in 4 hours was the smallest at about 5lb, I didn’t bother weighing it and after filming a little bit of commentary for the video I decided to pack up early rather than try to catch another one. I’m pretty sure I’d have caught again had I stayed until the end but 5 catfish in a half day session was an exceptional catch and to be honest I was worn out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at fishing for UK wels catfish with trout pellets, as anglers who visit Spain’s River Ebro will tell you, trout pellets are a superb catfish bait and pellet fishing for UK Catfish is just a scaled down version of how catfish anglers fish over there. If you have catfish in your water or you’re going to a day ticket catfish lake then pellets will be a top choice of bait for sure.
Until next time
Tight Lines

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