Although this weeks session didn't go quite to plan, it ended up being yet another very enjoyable and productive one in the end on the cat front.
It had originally been planned that both Adam and myself would head down Saturday night and then fish through Sunday night as well but unfortunately, Adam wasn't able to make it on the Saturday in the end and although I still headed down myself, the main lake was absolutely packed with 7 anglers on and not really any room to spare where I would feel confident of any kind of result.
Rather than making the hour plus drive home, I decided i'd go and chance my arm on the other little lake next door for the night and then reassess the situation once Adam had joined me the following afternoon.
After getting all the gear round to my chosen plot, I set about catching myself some livebaits, which can be far easier said than done on this particular water! It tends to very much be a case of all or nothing and there is certainly not the amount of silverfish present in here as what the main lake holds.
After around an hours fishing for nothing more than a couple of tiny little roach of about 2-3 ounces each, I decided my best plan of attack would be to get a tub of lobworms out and give these a try.
Unfortunately the night passed without too much action at all, there was a short pick up on my middle rod not long after dark but whether this was a cat, eel or possibly even a carp on the worms, i'm not too sure, but it all lead to nothing.
Adam was due over at about midday on the Sunday so I planned to sit tight until late morning and then begin a slow pack away ready for him to arrive and hopefully make the move onto the main lake once a few of the weekend anglers had packed up and headed home.
At just gone 11:15am however, I saw a decent sized swirl and the slap of a cats tail out between the two islands. Quickly looking at my phone and working out whether I had enough time to attempt to get a bait out there, I grabbed hold of the float rod and headed up towards the pads in the corner, in the hope that I could latch into a reasonable sized bait with enough time left to make it worthwhile presenting before I began packing away.
I had nipped a tiny bit off of one of the lobworms and mounted it onto the size 18 before slowly lowering it in, just off the far edge of the marginal lily pads. Within a few seconds the float slowly swayed from side to side before sinking below the surface but, upon making contact, it was clear that I was definitely not attached to the 8-10oz roach I was hoping for!
The rod hooped right over and the 3lb mainline began emptying from the spool as the fish made it's way tight along the margin, back up towards where I had spent the night, with me following close behind. The battle seemed to go on for an absolute age in the hot sun and as soon as I made any line back, it was taken from me once more as i gingerly played the fish, hoping the size 18 to 2lb bottom would somehow hold.
At around midday Adam called, presumably to let me know he was now on his way, but I was still in contact with the turbo charged carp that was on the end of my line and this left me unable to answer my phone with it still laying on the top of my rucksack but, suffice to say, I wouldn't be packed away and ready to move lakes by the time he arrived as planned, as I hadn't even started packing away at this point!
Another ten minutes or so passed and I managed to slip the net under a common that, at a guess, probably went around the mid double mark and although that isn't very big at all by today's standards, on a light match rod with 3lb mainline, 2lb bottom and a size 18 hook, it felt like a fair accomplishment in itself to have finally got it on the bank!
As soon as that rogue carp had been unhooked and returned after a quick mat shot I rang Adam back and he was only about 5 minutes away from the lake by this point so we agreed that he'd head straight onto the main lake and try to get us a couple of swims whilst i packed up as quickly as possible before heading around to join him.
Unfortunately we didn't manage to get where we'd ideally liked to have been as there were a couple of guys who were just two days into a ten day session and there wasn't any chance of them moving swims any time soon with the amount of gear they had set up! Instead we opted to go pretty much opposite on the other side of the two central islands which, although I caught my first Barway cat from this area, I hadn't fished for a good couple of months so it was quite nice to have a little bit of a change in scenery.
Adam soon had a carp rod out in the water, baited with a pink CC Moore Northern Special pop-up and accompanied by a little PVA bag full of pellets. After no more than about 5 minutes he was away with one of a similar size to the common I had from the little lake, just his didn't take quite so long to land on his 3lb test curve rod and 15lb mainline thankfully!
Whilst we were happily catching a few livebaits, he managed another carp of a similar size and then at around 5:30pm we decided it was about time we started getting the cat rods sorted and in the water for the night ahead. Two of my baits were winched out towards the left hand island and dropped about 10 yards short of a couple of snags whilst the third one was placed around mid way across the channel and to the right a little. Adam then placed his left hand rod towards the left corner of the other island and, similar to myself, he dropped his second rod out around half way across.
With the rods set and everything looking good we set about getting some dinner sorted which, when fishing with Adam, is always something to get excited about! Two extremely tasty, cheese filled burgers were soon handed over and devoured in next to no time, followed by the obligatory cup of tea and at long last we were able to sit back, relax and talk a load of rubbish, as is usually the case when anglers get together!
Not long before dark, Adam decided he was going to change the carp rod over and have a go for some eels on my leftover lobworms from the previous night. So back out came the CatMaster S/S Worm Rig and with a hooklink tied from 35lb Fox CamoTex Soft and a size 4 Eagle Wave hook, three lobworms were suspended about 10 yards out and fished around a foot under the surface.
Everything was quiet across the rods until I had literally just zipped myself into the bag for a night under the stars when I heard Adams "eel" rod signal a take. Slipping my shoes back on and heading up there we soon had whatever was attached in the bottom of his net and on closer inspection with the headtorch, it turned out to be the smallest catfish I had ever seen! Probably weighing no more than about 12-14oz, at a push!
I left him be to get his rod re-baited and back in the water so I could get my head down for the night before being awoken at around midnight by an absolutely blistering take on my left hand rod. After a reasonable scrap on the heavy gear, a very welcome cat of 23lb 11oz graced my net and a quick few pictures were taken before slipping it back into it's watery home.
Adam managed to get himself an eel later on in the night too, which thankfully I wasn't woken up for, but it passed without any further action for myself and when the 5:00am alarm call came, I really wasn't ready or willing to start packing away for work but, unfortunately needs must and we were soon barrowing the gear back around to the cars and got on our way back to March.
Thankfully the days work seemed to fly by and I was soon on my way back down, although Adam wasn't going to be joining me this time. Upon arriving there was the usual group of Monday day anglers who had plotted up along where we had spent the previous night so I decided to just set about catching a few baits, knowing that they usually head home around 6-7pm, at which point I could get the rest of the gear round and set up.
Catching the livebaits proved fairly tricky unfortunately, but I did manage to get some decent ones in the end after plenty of patience and perseverance and the rods were soon put out in very similar areas to the previous night.
I got everything else set up and as I was sat under the Evo Compact with the radio playing along quietly in the background, I watched day turn to night and not long after that I decided to get my head down for some sleep, feeling rather confident that there would be some sort of action through the hours of darkness at some point.
I had an aborted take on the left hand rod at around midnight, but other than that and to my surprise, I woke up briefly at around 4am with nothing more having happened. I thought my chance had more than likely gone, as the light of day was quickly starting to fade in from the darkness, so I drifted back off to sleep once more as there was no work to get up for on the Tuesday morning thankfully!
My little lay in didn't last for long however and around half an hour later, my right hand rod absolutely melted away and upon lifting the rod, I could instantly tell I was hooked into something fairly substantial. It kited towards the snag tree on the left corner of the island and with the rod compressed as much as i dared, i began clamping down and walking backwards trying to inch it away from where it was trying to hide.
A big eruption came up beneath the tree and thankfully it started coming my way, so I began moving forward and getting the line back on the reel, bit by bit. Just as I thought I was gaining the upper hand again, it decided to shoot off in completely the other direction and try to do exactly the same thing under a snag on the right hand corner of that same island!
I ran around the front of the bivvy and then began walking backwards at the opposite end of the swim, trying my hardest to do the same and ease it back away from the woodwork for a second time in as many minutes. Thankfully the steady pressure applied through the Rage Cat Multi rod eventually took it's toll and the cat slowly began coming out into the open water in front of me.
At this point the battle was pretty much over, with all of it's energy seemingly taken up by those first couple of powerful surges around the island and she soon wallowed along the surface and into the waiting net.
Once the camera gear was sorted, the weighing tripod positioned and the scales zeroed in to the sling, I lifted my prize out onto the waiting mat before unhooking and hoisting her up onto the Fox Digitals to register a weight of 51lb 12oz and record my third 50 of the season!
She was soon returned to fight another day after an epic struggle doing some self takes and I wiped myself down as best I could after having been pretty much covered entirely in cat slime from my chest down whilst trying to wrestle her into position for the photos!
I decided not to re-cast the rod afterwards and just fish with the remaining two until I had to pack away around midday and after having had a quick tidy up, I sat back on the bedchair, reflecting on the past few sessions and the results i've had, feeling rather chuffed with how my fortunes had changed over the last couple of months, in comparison to how much of a struggle it had been early on.
I managed another before heading off to pick my little girl up from school also, a very spirited one of 17lb 13oz that certainly fought well above it's weight bracket and brought my total for the year to thirteen cats. I would've been massively happy with this as a yearly total with how it was going up until the end of May but hopefully this can be grown upon even further over the next couple of months, before my attentions turn to pike and possibly a bit on the carp front in-between times.
There's an exciting month ahead also, as alongside the usual trips down to Barway, I've got a day out tope fishing on the 21st of this month and then a four night session booked on the Cat Lake down at Churchwood Fisheries in Essex in the middle of August, so fingers crossed my run of good fortune will continue through these too!