Well after what can only be described as a rather slow start on Barway for all of us cat anglers this year, things have well and truly kicked off over the past few days!
From the end of March up until last Thursday there had only been three definite, 100% verified captures that I knew about from the complex on the cat front, these being the 37 and 57 I had and also a 25 caught by Jason, who is another new member this year.
With the nightime temperatues having been rather chilly up until about 2-3 weeks ago and then everything in the lake starting to spawn as soon as the consistent warm weather arrived, I had a hunch that if it were going to switch on and start producing a few more, then this would be the week it happened, but in all honesty, even I didn't expect our results to have turned quite as drastically as they have!
Last Thursday night I heard of a 54lb cat being caught by a couple of long time Barway members and then from Friday onwards a couple more of the cat anglers turned up for a go over the weekend. Two of these being Jackie and Jason, who between them had cats of 22lb 5oz and 57lb 0oz respectively, on a quick 24 hour session.
Sean, the other cat angler who was down, has been catching consistently every night since Friday and is currently in the middle of a mammoth week long session. So far he has had a small one estimated at around 10-12lb, two at 18lb 13oz, a 20lb 6oz, 23lb 13oz, 24lb 5oz and a 38lb 5oz, along with a few losses and dropped takes along the way also.
I had my little girl with me over the weekend however so I wasn't able to get down until Monday evening for the night, so after getting everything set up, I set about catching a few livebaits to go under the CatMaster Dumbell Rattlers and after around 30 minutes or so I had a very respectful net full of perfectly sized roach for the night ahead.
About an hour before the sun started sinking into the horizon I got all three rods baited up and into the water. Two of them were being fished using the previously mentioned CatMaster Rattling Dumbells out in mid water but, unfortunately, I didn't have a third with me for the last rod so this was set with the tip high, Cat-O-Copter style, and fished out a little further towards the one of the lakes' two islands.
As the darkness came down over the lake, the surface was absolutely alive with all sorts of activity from below and with the moody looking skies coupled with the very close and humid conditions, it just felt perfect for a bit of action through the night.
After the customary, early evening frustrations from the lakes' plentiful stock of eels terrorizing my livebaits I finally got the rods settled and began to attempt some sleep at around 1am. This wasn't to last long however, as at around 1:30am I had a phone call from Sean to say he'd just had his 38, which is a new P.B for him so I got my camera sorted and headed round to do some photos for him.
When I got back to my swim around 30 minutes later, I decided to freshen up all of the baits for the remainder of the night, to give myself the best possible chance of latching into one before morning.
Not long after I re-cast them all, my left hand Rx+ signalled a very twitchy occurance twice within a couple of minutes, but after another 10-15 minutes of waiting in silence afterwards, I decided to reel the rod in, fully expecting there to have been a chunk or two taken out by the eels yet again.
To my surprise however, this wasn't the case and although the bait was badly marked up, it was clear that the rough abrasions were caused by the pads of a small cat, rather than the typical bite marks of an eel or deep tears that would be indicative of a pike.
The rod was re-cast once more and I proceeded to lay there on the FlatLiner, willing myself to sleep but failing absolutely miserably, such was the buzz around the place and the expectation of a pick up at any second. The next hour or so passed completely fruitlessly however for both Sean and myself so at around 3am I managed to finally drift off to sleep, more through exhaustion than anything else!
As before however, this sleep didn't last an overly long time at all and at sometime around 4:30am I was awoken to an almighty swirl and slap on the lakes' surface around 20 yards out, which was immediately followed by my alarm and reel going into absolute meltdown!
Whatever creature I was attached to must've taken around 60-70 yards of line on a ridiculously relentless first run and it thoroughly beat me up out in open water for a good 8-10 minutes before finally succumbing and sliding into the waiting net at the first time of asking.
After a quick glance in the net and being met by the sight of yet another good sized cat, I gave Sean a quick call and he was soon round to lend a hand with the weighing and photographs. Once up on the scales she span them around to 53lb 13oz which marked two 50's in a row for me which I was, and still am, absolutely over the moon with!