Over the last couple of weeks I've managed a total of six cats from Barway and although none of them have been overly big, they have all shown very encouraging signs for the future of the lakes with a healthy stock of kittens coming through.
On Monday of last week I headed down for my usual night and after waiting an hour or so for some of the day anglers to head home I got myself set up down the left hand side of the lake.
With a few livebaits having been caught during the time I was waiting, I soon had three rods out in the water, two of which had been winched out to one of the lakes' two islands and the third placed in open water, around half way across.
Not too long after dark I had a little twitchy pick up on my right hand rod and after watching my swinger dance up and down a few times I decided to lift into whatever it was to see what was going on, fully expecting an eel to have been the culprit and to reel in a half chewed not-so-livebait!
To my surprise however, I was met with a slight resistance on the other end from whatever had taken a liking to my livey and after slipping the net under it and turning my headtorch on, I was pleasantly surprised to see a little cat of around 4lb or so laying in the bottom. A quick photo was taken and she was slipped straight back to put on a few pounds before we hopefully meet again a few years down the line.
The remainder of Monday night passed without any more activity for me unfortunately, although the cat I had at 53lb 13oz a few weeks ago did get banked over the other side of the lake at just over 54lb by another one of the new cat anglers that joined this year and it was actually his first one from the lake so it was great to see him notch his first one up in style!
I decided I was going to fly back down on Wednesday after work for a night and although the weather report wasn't looking too great, I felt it would be worth the quick evening set-up and early morning pack away the following day for a chance at a bite or two whilst they were obviously on the feed.
Upon arriving at the lake, the last of the day anglers were just getting to their cars so I headed down the opposite bank to where I had done the Monday night and proceeded to try my best to catch some livebaits, on a waggler, in 20mph plus winds!! ... Needless to say, it was a little challenging!!
I eventually battled through the conditions and got myself three decent lives to go out for the night and as before, two of these got winched out to the islands and the third was placed in mid-water.
Not long after dark I had another twitchy little take which resulted in yet another baby kitten, this one probably even smaller than the one that was caught on Monday! As I mentioned right at the start however, it's great seeing these little cats coming through to show how healthy and happy the stock must be to be regularly and successfully spawning each year.
A little later on I had my second of the night which was probably around the 12lb mark at a guess, so another photo was taken on the mat for the records and she was soon slipped back to carry on growing.
With two of the rods out of the water and no more livebaits to put out, I was left with just one out there working away but, unfortunately, my 5:00am alarm clock soon summoned me from my sleep and it was time to reel in, pack away and head off for yet another days' work.
Buoyed by the success of last week, I was eager to get down again this past Monday however and after waiting until about 7pm to get where I wanted to be, I set about getting myself sorted and catching a few baits once more.
All was going swimmingly, with two decent sized roach and one skimmer in the net quite early on but then I hooked into something on my little float rod that smashed me to pieces in next to no time and subsequently put paid to me catching any more lives for the night ahead!
Thankfully there were enough baits there to get each of my three rods out in the water however and this time I decided to keep two short of the island in mid-water and see how things went, with the third one winched right across.
Around 10pm, the solitary island rod was away and I instantly knew it was a better fish than the ones which had been landed the previous week. After a decent battle and a couple of hairy moments close in around the marginal pads, I slipped the net under one of 27lb 8oz and with it missing it's right eye, it's one that will be easily recognisable further down the line whenever it gets caught again.
With that probable rogue carp having smashed my float gear to pieces earlier, it unfortunately left me without a bait to put back out for the remainder of the night but, with having had a result so early on, I wasn't too disappointed as i'd have rather caught and be short on bait than to have sat there with motionless indicators all night!
Before getting my head down for the night, I decided to check on my two remaining baits to see if they were still alive and kicking under the CatMaster Rattling Dumbells and as i shone the beam of my headtorch across the lake I saw a sight I've never witnessed before in all my years of angling, up until now.
To my amazement, I could see long, silvery shapes darting around, just breaking the surface of the water and although I couldn't see them that clearly in the gloom, with the constant fluttering of tiny winged bodies bombarding my face in front of the light, I was pretty sure they were eels, although quite what they were doing, i'm not overly sure.
Not too long after laying down once checking my baits, my right hand rod was away and a cat of around 8-10lb soon surfaced and made it's way into the net to take the second of my three rods out of the game so I was left with just the one rod working away in mid-water out to the left, with a skimmer of about 8-10oz on the end.
I managed to finally get my eyes shut for a couple of hours before I was awoken at around 3am by an absolute one toner of a take. I flew out of the bag and down to the rod, in my socks - as you do and I then lifted the rod, tightened down the clutch and slowly let the 6/0 Eagle Wave Circle hook pull and twist it's way home before the rod took on a nice curve and battle began.
After another tense scrap close in around the pads, the culprit slipped into the net and registered a weight of 24lb 13oz on the scales. A few pictures were had and the hookhold treated with the CatMaster Cat Care liquid before she was gently slipped back to fight another day.
I then laid that third and final, bait-less rod back down into the waiting RX+, knowing full well that I wouldn't be getting disturbed by it's tune for the rest of the night and with three cats under my belt, I got myself back into the bag with a smile on my face for a very peaceful few hours of sleep indeed!