I must be bleeding mad! Those were the words that echoed through my head as I sheltered under my all new 50" brolly on my first ever catfish chasing session. If dedicating myself to catching a big eel wasn't enough for me, I now feel like the angling equivalent of a bigamist as I add trying to catch a catfish to my already strained bank time for the summer months.
Saying this is my first attempt would be a lie as earlier in the year I spent a day with the lads on another venue; although the company was good the lake itself was awful and frankly I have tried to block it from my mind, so that one don't count.
This new venue is very attractive and even though its banks are worn hard by its obvious popularity it still retains a certain old English charm which appeals. Personally if I were the owner I'd empty it of all the annoying carp and even the cats then restock it with Crucians, Rudd, Tench and the odd eel and perch sealing it into the romance of English summer fishing. But as I am not the owner I will just try to winkle out a cat for now.
What this lake doesn't have in size it makes up for in features and chose a swim with a few nice ones to choose from. My first rod was cast into the shadows of a weeping willow.
And the second onto the edge of the only lily pads not on the edge of the lake.
I knew full well before this trip that the lake contained a lot of carp, so bait wise I went well overboard and used giant baits to try and avoid them. My 40mm home made hali/tuna/crab boillies on one rod and a 3" Rudd dead bait on the other certainly kept the hordes off my hook baits and also kept my buzzers in silent mode.
If a lake has trees round it, it has a robin and I guarantee it will be a cheeky bugger for sure and this one was no different. When this this fella turned up like all fishing lake robins he was expecting a free feed of maggots, but sadly what I had to offer he couldn't carry off and as far a I know they don't like cuppa soup!
The session being a quiet one soon turned into an bird watching session and the next avian to catch my eye proved that not every bit of lost or discarded fishing line is deadly to birds, although it was playing with fire...
The bird parade continued all day with giant chickens strutting by.
Followed by some very noisy guinea fowl.
Midday the baliff came by on his rounds and stopped for a chat. After explaining what I was after he offered some interesting and believable info re the cats in the lake. Apparently there are only ten over double figures in the lake as far he knows but there is a large amount of smaller spawned fish in the one to five pound bracket, which are often caught on small baits aimed for the carp and one bait in particular seems to sort them out! So the last few hours of the trip I switched one rod over to a smaller bait and ran the carp gauntlet landing a string of small carp, but still no cats.
A few days later I returned equipped with the recommended baits and a lighter rod so I could split my my approach 50/50. One heavy outfit to target the bigger fish and a lighter outfit to float fish some of the secret bait off the ledge to try and bag a kitten.
Good god my heart started beating when the heavy outfit sprang to life only moments after being cast out. A slow run turned into a screamer! Something had made off with my my 3" dead Rudd........
My strike connected not with an immovable object I'd expected but instead vibrated suspiciously. Yes a 4lb carp had bona fide taken my dead bait and I was not happy!
To make matters worse it happened two more times on the trot and confirmed that a hungry carp will eat anything. The secret bait didn't work ether as every time it went in it to produced a carp. I even tried baiting a spot heavily with pellets and fishing off that spot hoping a kitten might be attracted to the noise and I could pick it off the edge but no it just brought in more and more effing carp.
Already I feel like just abandoning this whole cat thing as every venue I have looked for cats seems to have the same problem tonnes and tonnes of carp or should I say tonnes and tonnes of crap.