It was always my intention to fish for cats a bit earlier in the season this year as they seem to be well catchable from the beginning of April. Frustratingly, i’m a bit later than I wanted to be out but it’s still a lot earlier than I would normally fish for them and judging by the lack of anglers on the bank I can only assume everyone else was waiting for warmer weather. When I say lack of anglers, there were in fact none which suits me down to the ground. I chose a swim where I could cover a bit of water with the three rods and intended to make the most of the space as i’m sure there would be other anglers on before I was due to leave 48 hours later on Friday morning.
I’d taken my baitboat along to make the job of getting the bait tight to the area that I wanted to fish a lot easier, especially at night. It also makes the job of getting a big bait out a lot simpler. I took my time setting up as I have missed one or two screaming runs on previous sessions and although I think i’ve sussed out what the problem was, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. All three baits were put out where I wanted them and now it was just a question of sitting back for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. The weather was absolutely glorious although not conducive to good fishing, and all thoughts of the shit that is happening in the world right now were a million miles from the forefront of my mind.
Just after 7pm I put fresh baits on. I wanted to give myself enough time to get them in position for dusk and into the night. By now it was a top coat cooler so I put on another layer and prepared myself for what was going to be a cold, clear night. Just after 9pm the middle rod, the one that was on the money, one toned and I was into my first cat of the season. As per usual, a tug of war ensued but in the end, my cotton-like arms won the battle. Not a biggie at 28.2 but it was an absolute minter and very, very welcome. I deliberated about taking a photo but to be honest, the buggers will never stay still so I decided against it and hoped that a bigger fish would grace my net that would be worth getting beaten up for.
Fresh bait back on and I didn’t have to wait long for another bite. Same rod, same place only this one felt heavier. I could see it way out on the surface in the beam of my headtorch. Slowly, I gained line until it was under the rod tip and from it’s serpentine rolls on the surface I could see it was a better fish. On the scales it went 39.14 so yes, I was going to get a photo of this one. I’d got the camera and intervalometer setup so now it was just a question of trying to manhandle this sucker for the camera.
I slipped into the sleeping bag thinking I was going to be on for a right bonanza. Two fish on the first evening and i’d still got another thirty six hours to go. In my head I was envisaging multiple captures and dreaming of bigger fish. I certainly had expectations of getting another fish that night but apart from one aborted run, probably caused by a trailer, the rods remained quiet. I awoke the next morning to another beautiful day and having the place to myself I decided to have breakfast followed by a move. I wasn’t expecting to catch during the day and it would help pass a couple of hours. I had a walk around the lake checking out various spots and decided on the next peg to my left. Hardly worth moving really you would think but it did give me easier access to a feature that I wanted to fish towards.
After the big move, the day was spent drinking coffee, thinking about random stuff and desperately waiting for the evening to arrive. When it did arrive it came with two other anglers. Honestly to god, who invited them? On top of that, they wanted to fish the two pegs next to me. Don’t get me wrong, they were nice blokes but I didn’t even want them on the same lake as me never mind the two pegs next to me. In the end they decided to fish at the far end of the lake, which in fairness, is one of my favourite spots and a good area. I like to think the fact that I emphasised that point about fifty times was what swayed them to go down there, but I suspect the reality is they probably thought I was a bit weird and just wanted to get away from me. Anyway, it paid off for them in the end because about 10pm they had a run and I could see that they were into a fish, whilst I on the other hand hadn’t had a bite for the last 23 hours. The good news though is they went after that fish as they were only down for the evening so I was back to having the place to myself.
The bad news now though, I never had a sniff all night and before I knew it the sunshine was burning my retinas out and it was time to get up. Breakfast was followed by a slow pack up and I had to be on the road for 9am. I knew i’d blown it now that the sun was up and I really did expect to get a couple more fish during the night. As usual I left the rods and net until last. I was looking at the rods saying “one more minute” when the right hand rod indicator lifted to the top and then stopped. Just as i was thinking “liner” the clutch started to tick on the reel slowly before increasing in speed. I got the fish in and left it in the net while I went about getting the scales set up again. It weighed 31.6 and I was chuffed to bits in the end. I think I would have been disappointed if the session had ended with those two early fish. No photo though, it wasn’t big enough for all the faff of setting everything back up.