Well as a few of you will already know, I made the decision at the back end of last year to try and target some rather large moggies this year for a change as it's not something I had ever really had a concentrated effort on in the past.
I've had a few cats to mid-20's whilst carp fishing in this country over the years and also had them up to 113lb over on the River Ebro in Spain many years ago but I have never really set my stall out to go and target a specific water for them over the course of a season.
When my good mate Lee started talking to me about Barway Lakes a couple of years ago and mentioned not only the presence of a few catfish but also that there were some rather large specimens in there up to and over the 100lb mark, the seed was well and truly sown and after a couple of guest sessions over the last season or two, I decided now was the time I fancied a change and a new challenge with what is still a pretty unknown stock, so I joined myself up for the coming season.
My first session down there was spent with another great friend, Adam, and although no cats were landed I did have one very slow and steady take on the first night which, unfortunately, I pulled out of pretty much straight away! Considering I was fishing with a size 5/0 hook and a 28mm hookbait, I cant imagine anything else would've attempted picking it up other than one of the Wels which are present, so to say I was a little desponadant at my missed chance would be a considerable understatement...
I've also been sticking a single carp rod out in the evenings to help pass the time a bit and there have been plenty of those up to high doubles which have been keeping me busy during the my time down there, including one very strange capture of an albino grass carp around the 5-6lb mark which neither Lee, nor any of the other members i've spoken to knew about!
Anyway, back to the cats and bringing everything up to date with my latest night which was spent down there on Monday. I arrived at the lakes after work at around 6:45pm and with no other anglers in sight I loaded the barrow up and headed straight around to the swim I had been targeting and baiting since my ticket started. It offers very good coverage over both islands if there's nobody else there and I have been concentrating the cat rods around one particular snag tree off the far corner of the second island whilst fishing the first island for the carp.
All the rods were still in the clip from the previous week so it was just a case of sticking the hookbaits onto the rigs and sending them out to their designated areas. On the left rod I've been fishing a bright pink Squid & Octopus 28mm dumbell pop-up which is mounted onto a rig consisting of the Fox Rage Cat 80Kg hooklink braid and a size 5/0 offset single hook. This is being fished on a running set-up with a 5oz lead and the bait popped up around 4-5 inches off the bottom, just about the right height for any cat mooching its way around the island ... Hopefully!
The right rod is pretty much the same set-up wise but rather than the offset single, I opted for a size 6/0 CatMaster Siluro Circle hook and hookbait wise it was a double 24mm CC Moore Pacific Tuna, fished snowman style with a hard hookbait on the bottom and a pop-up on top. These have also been soaking in some of the Tuna Oil for the past few months and this sends out a huge great slick as soon as the bait enters the water with the amount of oil they've been able to take on.
The first rod went out perfectly and it was soon followed by the second one about 15 yards further up the island margin and this also landed absolutely bang on at the first time of asking, which is always a nice way to start any session! I wasn't quite ready for what happened next however and just as I kneeled down next to the bedchair to stick a hookbait on the carp rod, the left hand cat rod gave out a couple of quick bleeps, followed by the tip arching over and my Rx+ well and truly signalling that I was away!
To start with it felt like I was just reeling in a dead weight but when I got it down under the rod tip it started giving my new Rage Cat Multi rods their first real bit of stick! A good 5-10 minutes later and a few failed attempts to head back out towards the island, she was beaten and my first Barway cat was laid in the bottom of the landing net!
After hoisting her up onto the scales, she registered a weight of 37lb 4oz and a few pictures and a bit of video later, she was rested in the edge whilst I reeled in the other rod, before walking her round and re-locating her into what is eventually going to be the dedicated cat lake on the complex.
The buzz of that first fish from a new water is always a nice feeling, but to be doing something that is a completely new challenge for me made it even sweeter still and hopefully the second one won't be too far away!