Bream location in gravel pits

I’ve had a query from a reader of my last blog, after I mentioned that I was embarking on a tench and bream campaign this spring. Specifically, he wanted some advice on location of gravel pit bream. So, let’s have a look at this important aspect now. I’ll be reporting back on my first sessions in my next blog in a couple of weeks.

Most gravel pit location is a painstaking affair of mapping the contours of the water, and then trying to interpret how they will affect the location and feeding behaviour of the bream. During mapping, I am looking for the gravel bars and humps, areas of extensive bottom weed, areas of clean bottom and what that bottom composition consists of. Is it, for example, fine gravel or hard packed mud or silt? Most importantly, which features are naturally weed free? Unlike tench, bream show a distinct tendency to favour naturally weed free areas. Also unlike with tench, dragging has never proved very productive; I have had very poor results after manual weed clearance.

For the actual mapping, there is no doubt that the job is far easier if there is access to a boat or baitboat, together with echo sounder. But let’s assume neither are allowed, which is the case on many waters. Compared to the boat and echo sounder approach, the time spent mapping a pit with the standard plumbing methods from the bank is colossal. But it is time that must be spent to maximise chances of sport with big bream. The correct coarse fishing tackle must be used to generate a picture of your chosen fishing grounds. I use a TFG marker rod, in conjunction with Banana Braid braided line especially designed for feature finding. A bobbled 2oz Fox feature finding lead is slid on to the braid and large buoyant float tied on the end. The lead is mounted on a short link with a large enough eye to allow the float’s buoyancy to easily pull braid through it. To avoid the lead resting on the float during the cast, the lead is stopped about 18” up the line by a rubber float stop and bead. When this is cast out, the buoyancy of the float naturally makes it pop to the surface. Depth finding is then simple. Smoothly wind down the float to the heavy lead until the line is taut, and then allow off six inches of line at a time until you first see the float again break surface. You have now established the depth at that position.

Now wind in a few feet and repeat the procedure, establishing the depth once again at the new position. By continuing this process back to the bank, you now have a rough idea of the contours between you and the furthest cast. Any areas of real interest discovered can then be relocated and examined more carefully. I use a second rod, rigged identically. Having cast to the feature to be more closely examined, the float is then left in place as a focal point, and the float on the second rod cast all around it. You can build up a remarkably accurate picture of each feature in this manner. An hour’s work will give you details of feature size, and steepness of gradient. There is no need to use special braid on this second rod. The information I require about bottom composition will have already been established in my initial investigation with the actual feature finding set up.

I may want to leave in place a permanent marker for the duration of the session. To do this, I set up a marker float slightly differently, in a traditional sliding float arrangement with normal monofilament line. If you haven’t fished a slider, it is set up as a normal float rig but the float is not fixed in place but simply allowed to run freely on the line. A stop knot or rubber float stop is placed at the appropriate place depending on the depth of the water. Having again located the feature and made any fine adjustments necessary, I cut the line about a foot above the float stop and tie a loop in the free end. A similar loop is tied in the end of the reel line and the two loops joined with a firm tie of PVA. The float is then cast to the required position, left for a minute or so until the PVA has melted, at which time the free line is retrieved, leaving the marker in place. Make sure that you can retrieve the float after use. I use a special grapple made up of an in-line lead and large sea treble, which casts like a rocket.

Having found the features, which ones do we fish? Reliable areas do seem to be gravel bars, especially those that exist in otherwise weedy areas and are themselves clear of all but light silkweed. The other reliable feature is the clean, apparently barren area of either mud or silt. This area more closely mirrors the situation in a reservoir, and big pit bream, once they arrive in such an area, will often hang around for days. Small gravel bars and humps, while reliable, rarely hold big bream for more than the odd night.

If I am fishing within range of my Spomb, about forty yards, I usually do not bother with leaving permanent swim markers in place. Having found the area to be fished with a marker float I then cast one of my rods so that the terminal rig alights alongside the marker. The line is then inserted into the reel line clip and the line marked at the spigot with a thin sliver of insulating tape. When doing this, it is important to wrap the tape round the line with the sticky sides perfectly flush with each other and that the tape is then squeezed flat so that it adheres properly to the line with no air gaps. Then trim the tape as close to the line as possible and put a slight bevel at each end so that there are no sharp angles to foul the line during casting. My finished markers are around 1mm wide. I then walk out the rod on the bank until the line tightens to the clip, and mark the bank. Next, assuming I am fishing the other rod or rods at the same range, it is a simple matter to walk them out, clip up and tape as before.

The same procedure is carried out with my TFG spod rod and, before retrieving the marker float, the line is put into the reel line clip as well. This now means that every rod when cast out will land the terminal rig, baiting cone or marker float at the same range. All I have to ensure is that my direction of cast is not wayward, simply by lining up a horizon feature such as a tree or telegraph pole.

For baiting up, all I have to do is cast my Spomb hard enough to tighten to the clip and then I can be certain that the bait is in the correct position. The reason I also fix the range on my marker float as well is if I decide to do any baiting by catapult, say for balls of groundbait or loose feeding boilies. Obviously, I then need a visual target at which to aim.

Proof of the pudding..

You Think You Know A Lake

You Think You Know a Lake

After a very disappointing result at a recent fishing competition, followed by a couple of weeks with a serious lack of fish banked, I have been well and truly irritated with my own fishing. So instead of doing a few hours here and a few hours there I decided to do a proper weekend session down a lake I thought I knew very well.

I knew the water down Argal Reservoir in Cornwall would be low after the summer but when I turned up there it was very obvious that the water was extremely low. I had never before seen it like this so took the opportunity to well and truly check out the areas I had previously been fishing.

I could actually walk out to the spots I had fished before and what an eye opener it was. There were snags everywhere with perfect clear areas to be targeted in the future months. What shocked me the most was a whole row of tree stumps that I had no idea where there up until that moment. I can’t imagine the amount of times I have fished over them!

I just had to then check out the rest of the lake so spent the next hour walking around it checking out the other pegs. Without seeing it you probably couldn’t even imagine the snags that were there. In front of one of the pegs there was even a full wall that really would restrict any fishing for even the most experienced angler.

I was eager to get my carp rods out but didn’t really have a clue where to place them; all my usual spots were an impossibility. The feeling of fishing a ‘new’ lake gave me a real buzz and before I knew it I’d located three perfect areas and bait was being put out.

All I could do then was wait with an unusual feeling of anticipation. The evening soon came without so much as a bleep of the alarms soon to be followed by the morning. I questioned myself as to whether I should locate some different areas but decided not to. I changed my rigs and re-baited those same three areas. Before long I was thankful I had done so as my rod screamed off resulting in a lovely looking 25.04lb common. A much needed fish for my own self confidence. This was soon to be followed by an 18lb mirror, well worth getting the fishing tackle out.

If nothing else this weekend was a real eye opener. You may think you know a lake inch by inch but in truth until you can actually see it for real how much do we really know?

http://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/leisure-activities/fishing/coarse-fishing/argal

Tight Lines Samantha

 

Bream Feast

An estate lake close to my home has long held a big head of bream but never, until recent years, did it produce fish to interest a single minded specimen hunter like me. The average fish was always around 4lb and 6lb was about the top limit. But, in recent years, that average has apparently started to climb quite significantly, so much so that I was hearing rumours of regular doubles being taken, with fish to over 12lb certainly genuine. Now, while 12lb is still nowhere near the top end of bream weights these days, it is still a very worthwhile target and definitely rates as a worthwhile specimen in my eyes.

Having taken delivery of three of the gorgeous new TFG Classic Nan Tec barbel fishing rods, I decided to put them to use as feeder rods, using the Avon top joint rather than the separate quiver top. A bream session was planned, and as the water is close to home I took advantage by driving there on the afternoon before my session to introduce bait into the selected area. In an hour, using a Spomb, I had fired out a large bucket of mixed Pigeon mix, corn, stewed wheat and TFG mixed halibut pellets. I also included a few 15mm fishmeal boilies.

The following morning, it took a fair while to set my camp and it was around midday before I was casting the first bait into position, after having introduced a further twenty Spomb loads of bait. That was baited with a boilie wrapped in paste, and accompanied by a method ball. As I set up my second rod, which was to be baited with lobworm/corn cocktail, the alarm on the first sounded and line started to disappear off the free spool reel. The bait had only been in place about two minutes! As soon as I struck, I knew I was attached to a fair fish but, typical of bream, it never gave me any anxious moments. Soon, I was weighing my first fish of the session, 8lb 6ozs, and a good start.

Before rebating, I cast the lobworm rod into position and then attached a new boilie to the first rod. With that one in place, I turned my attention to rod number three, which was to have a soft pellet hookbait. Just as I was moulding the method ball in place, the lob worm rod was off in a fast run. This was ridiculous! Soon, I was weighing a second 8lb plus fish. Fifteen minutes later, with all three rods out together at last, I was able to contemplate a cup of tea and fired up the kettle. However, before it had time to boil I had to turn it off again as bream number three came to call. 9lb 3ozs this one registered and did give me a decent scrap for a change. Just as that was being slipped back, a fourth bream had galloped off with a boilie. A few minutes later, and less than an hour after the first cast, I was weighing a fourth fish, this time 7lb 14ozs.

After that fish, I did have a couple of hours very welcome respite before another flurry of action commenced, and by dusk another four fish had been netted. These fish were significantly bigger, at 9-2, 9-9, 9-13 and the fish that turned out the biggest of the session at 10lb 7ozs. From then until about 11.00pm there were four more fish before the action stopped completely and I was able to get a little sleep. In a hectic afternoon and evening session I’d landed a surprising 12 bream with a very respectable average weight.

The action started again at first light, but during the daylight hours fish only came spasmodically. In fact, only two more bream came before dark, although I did land a solitary five pound tench and get bitten off by a big pike that had taken a liking to a boilie. After dark, though, the action turned absolutely manic. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account but, during the night I was landing fish about every forty minutes. By daybreak, I’d had no sleep whatsoever and was absolutely knackered. In total, I’d landed 27 bream from 7lb to 10-7 plus the tench, approaching 200lbs in total.

Looking back on the session, it was great fun but obviously the chances of a really outsize bream appear to be limited by the sheer numbers of fish. But with bream you never really know. Anglers who have spent far more time than me after bream have told me that it’s very common for a huge fish to suddenly show up amongst much lesser individuals. I shall certainly go back and hopefully improve on my 10-7 result.

 

TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

TFG Trail Blazer Barrow

I’ve tested out the new TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow for some time now, and really put it through its paces. It caters for all my angling needs, from carting my excessive amount of fishing tackle around a 70 acre lake for 3 days fishing, to light loads for a day session. The barrow is lightweight and has adjustable front and side bars for larger loads with 2 adjustable back legs. When fully loaded, the barrow has a good centre balance and really impressed me by not tipping over – something which has happened to me on numerous previous occasions. The barrow comes with 2 bungee ropes that hook onto 4 rings which are built into the framework for better grip.
The frame is lightweight and has a removable wheel for ease of loading in your car, with screw-in hands making the barrow useable in a matter of seconds. The tyre has good tread that is nice and thin which helps when pushing over rough terrain. You can even place 2 buckets at the back of the barrow which will rest on the 2 bars perfectly when requiring more space.

TF Gear Force 8 Heavy Duty Barrow Bag

The barrow bag is the perfect accessory for the barrow, with a hard top and bottom and heavy duty material which will protects all your gear inside. The bag comes with 4 large pockets on the outside, and one large pocket in the lid with a heavy duty zip. Inside the bag there are pockets built into the back and sides for easy organisation of your tackle. For the best result, try 2 barrow bags –  this will take all your gear and fits on the barrow perfectly side by side.

The Heat is On!

High temperatures and bright weather aren’t my favourite conditions to be carp fishing in, but I’d booked the Friday off work so Thursday night – with car packed – I was off to my syndicate water in Herefordshire. A stunning estate lake with some of the best-looking carp I have ever seen. Thursday night was quiet, just a good tench of 8lb 6oz and a new lake record (which was very pleasing but not exactly what I was after); the rest of the night drifted by quietly. Friday dawned calm and hot, and unfortunately some of the lake’s residents had started to spawn! Talking to the other members on the lake, we all thought that with these conditions it was going to be a struggle.

I walk around the lake and climb a few trees to see what’s happening, and find a group of carp feeding well away from the spawning fish;  clearly, a move was in order. My TF Gear Chill-out bivvy is soon moved to my new swim, rods cast out just as the late afternoon sun is starting to lose some of its bite. The lake is crystal clear and one of the most important bits of tackle I have for these conditions is the Tfgear Secret Trap fluorocarbon main line, which is almost invisible in the water. Having a  higher specific gravity than water it sinks really well, and on slack lines it is almost like having backleads on – which helps not to spook any of the fish in the area. Within 10 minutes of setting up in my new swim, one of my TFgear Glimmer bite alarms screams into life and the left hand Tsi rod cast close to the far tree line is in action. The fish comes in to about 30yds quite easily – making me think it was maybe one of the smaller fish in the lake – when suddenly it banks to the right and a slow solid run that’s impossible to stop takes 50-60yds of line off me in one go. The fish now kites even tighter to my right and my line is now going through the tree branches. The forgiving tip on the Tsi rod cushions the carp lunges, but with the line now precariously caught up there’s only one option – into the water I go! 10 to 15 minutes later and I’m slowly making some ground on the fish, it rolls out about 15yds and the action of my 3.5lb Tsi is great even at this close range. A couple more minutes and I slip my net under a very large common, but its not till I try to lift the net from the water when I realise I have the lake’s biggest resident; a stunning common that sends the scales round to settle on 40lb 8oz, a new lake record.

40lb 8oz Common – a new lake record.

Pictures taken and congratulations from the other guys, and I settle back down with all rods recast. I retreat to my Comfort-zone fishing bed chair, looking back through the pictures on the camera to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, before drifting off to sleep. I have a few liners in the night so fish are still in the area, but a quiet night overall – not that I’m too bothered. Up early and Saturday is much the same, hot and sunny. I sit out watching the lake wake up, kettle on for an early morning brew when suddenly my middle rod is away. After a very hard fight I slip the net under another stunning common, the scales settle at 30lb 4oz a great result and another lake record falls – the largest brace ever taken on the lake, it really can’t get much better this!

The second Common, yet another lake record

I have to recast all 3 rods after playing the last fish; with all the commotion I was not expecting any more action, so I sit back down to finish boiling the kettle and make some breakfast. The fish have other ideas, and incredibly I’m in again after a good fight as a stunning 25lb mirror comes to the bank. What a session – after 5 years on the water, and many blanks in what seemed perfect conditions, a couple of days I thought would be tough tough turn out to be a record session. I slowly pack down and make my way home, and I think only another angler will know the feeling of satisfaction you get when it all comes together in a session of a lifetime.

25lb Mirror, last catch of the session.

Margin Fishing

How many of us inspect the margins when we arrive at a lake?

You might want to, if you want to improve your catch rate. Fishing for carp in the margins can be extremely productive if you find the right places and apply good angling tactics. How many fishermen/fisherwomen ignore the margins when fishing? They see all that water out in front of them and think that the fish must be out there. I often see anglers using three fishing rods with all of them cast out to the far bank. With so many anglers casting out far it makes the margins a safe place for carp to hang out. In fact, the margins can even be the best places to target the bigger carp in the lake.

Fishing in the Margins

As long as you’re quiet when setting up and fishing, you can take fish from the margins in most lakes. Carp have great hearing and will be able to pick up vibrations from the surrounding bank, so you do need to be as quiet as possible.

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

When it comes to margin fishing I tend to use a small 8ft rod and centre pin reel; this allows me to fish in-between trees, and other places where it would be hard to use a 12ft rod. It’s best to wear dark green or brown fishing clothing, or better still, use camouflage clothing, as you can blend into the surrounding. I like to find the more subtle features rather than the obvious ones such as overhanging trees, island banks, etc. I like to look for features like undercut banks, posts or trees sticking out of the water, small bulrushes, bushes, lily pads or inlet pipes all these can be ideal feeding spots for carp.

Carp taking bait

I like to use a small float, 8lb fluorocarbon line and a size 10 hook partnered with good quality bait. One of my best methods is to wrap paste around a small boilie, many fish have taken using this approach, as the carp are not wised up to these methods. So as the weather starts to warm up go out and have a go, this is a very rewarding way of catching carp guaranteed to provide a good fight whatever size fish you’ve hooked into.

Landing the Carp

All the best and good fishing!

Fantastic result!

The Chod Rig My Way

The Chod Rig has to be one of my most favoured rigs in my coarse fishing tackle. I’ve opted to use it for a majority of sessions lately and with some personal preferences I think it’s as perfect as I could get it. Instead of using lead core I use a 48″ Tungsten Ex Heavy Leader from TF Gear and instead of using beads, due to a lack of them in my tackle box, I’ve just replaced them with two 6mm Boilies that have been air dried for a week. After looking into it I am confident they will stay hard in the water for up to 24 hours.

My rig station, all the Components I need to make my chod,all my prep work done ready to do their job

Before I cast out I like to put two foam nuggets on the hook to prevent any debris getting attached to it as it finds the bottom of the lake and a small PVA bag of my favourite boilies. Then I can wait for the action but hopefully not to long

This beauty fell to my chod rig November this year
(It works for me so go out and give it a go)

Much awaited 35lb Snow Fish

On my latest excursion to France, the trip all be it a brief one – just three days – ended up being a real eye opener! The trip came about after speaking to David Keep of Angling Lines, David recommended the nearby Windmill Lakes. The venue consists of two lakes set amongst 32 acres of beautiful French countryside, the first lake is around 3 acres and holds carp to 30lb, and the second lake is roughly 4 acres and holds carp to 40lb. When I eventually arrived at the lake I was pleased to be greeted by Dave and Sue Bainbridge who kindly offered a much needed mug of coffee. I had a good walk around the lake looking for any signs of moving fish, sun was shining down and the temperature was about 12 oc. I found the spot in which I was going to fish and started to get set up when the rain soon came over and the temperature started to drop. No stopping me though, so I persevered and was soon set up ready for action.

The temperature continued to plummet and it wasn’t long before snow started to fall. The sudden drop in temperature left me and my party of anglers feeling uncertain as to whether or not they would catch. It all came good on the third day though when something decided to sample one of my hookbaits. My Bobbins dropped to the snow then up it come again as the bite alarm screamed off as I hit in to my rod I knew it was a good size carp.

A good 10 minute battle resulted in a nice 35lb mirror resting in the bottom of my landing net.

The mirror fell to a new bait on test, which was attached to an unusual take on the chod which I have been playing around with. Rather than using beads to hold the hooklink in place, I have been experiencing a lot of success by using two air-dried 10mm hookbaits threaded on to a TF leader and a 3 oz distance lead. Alongside this I presented a small PVA bags containing a dozen whole and broken freebies. I was the only one to catch during the trip and to do so during the snow make the experience even more special.

Predator Paradise

Predator Paradise
Every year a group of us here at TFGear take a predator-fishing trip and test some of the prototype TFGear coarse fishing tackle at the same time. This year saw us revisiting Rutland water in Leicestershire for the opening few days of there Pike trials, so cars packed with as many lures, sample fishing rods, waterproof fishing clothing and thermal underwear ready for testing, off we head. Now visiting any of the big trout reservoirs is always a very exciting time and Rutland at over 3,000 acres is no exception because you just never know what it is capable of throwing up. Unfortunately the weather conditions made testing waterproof fishing clothing & thermal underwear out of the question, over 20 degrees, bright sunshine and very little wind meant it was more like the summer we never had!
The first morning dawned bright and clear with a little breeze as we headed off up the south arm to Manton bay an area we had done well on an earlier visit. With the bright conditions this meant the first couple of hours before the sun gets too high are really the best chance of any good pike fishing. Within the first hour we had a few pike following right to the side of the boat before turning away, a common occurrence on many trout waters, then a good strike to the jerk bait and a spirited fight ensues but as it come closer to the boat it turns out to be a good rainbow trout of about 5lb. Then Chris my boat partner hooks and lands a jack pike of 5-6lbs on a soft plastic lure.

With the sun now high follows die off so a quick call to the other TFGear lads Simon & Ceri to see if they are having anything. They are having takes in 35-40ft of water near browns island on soft jigs, with a nice zander lost by the side of the boat and two landed of about 1 ½ lb, so zander are still willing to have a go in the deeper water and we head over to join them. A few hours pass and nothing else to either boat we head off to the north arms tower. Quite a few fish appear on the echo sounder and we start getting takes straight away, now getting takes from zander is one thing but hooking and landing them is another. Both Ceri and Simon take a couple of fish each to 3 1/4lb and with ½ an hour to go I manage to boat a zander of about 1 1/2lb. This ends our first day on Rutland water and most of the pike boats have had a hard but enjoyable day.

The second morning is just as bright and even less wind, so we make a decision to concentrate on the zander unless the conditions change. A quick word with one of the rangers who points us in the area we should try for zander. So rigged up with one of the new prototype TFGear jig fishing rods and a very special new braid we’re testing we head off. The breeze has now pick up a little so we set the drift upwind of the spot selected, drogue(underwater parachute to slow the boats drift) deployed to slow the boats drift and echo sounder showing we’re in 60ft of water and plenty of fish showing on the screen. Straight away we start to get takes on our vertically fished jigs and I’m soon into my first zander of the day landing it I find its hooked on the stinger treble.

A very important addition to the jig the stinger treble is attached to wire and threaded through the jig body coming out near the tail, without this you will seriously reduce your catch rate.
Quite a few more fish landed and lost then my jig is hit by something a bit bigger and the clutch squeals as line is taken, after a good fight a PB zander of about 8lb slide into the net and I’m over the moon.

We end the day with over 25 zander to our boat and Simon and Ceri have also had a cracking day landing fish up to 5lb and a bonus pike on a jig, all this and we get to watch a beautiful Rutland sunset in the bargain.

Hot Cats

For several years, I’ve been interested in the huge catfish from the Ebro in Spain, but never got round to actually going after them. Then, at the NEC in March this year, I finally arranged with Colin Bunn of Catmasters Tours that Fran and I would make our first visit on the 10th August.
At the appointed hour in Terminal B at Barcelona, we met Colin by the Black Horse statue, along with 5 other anglers, and all piled into his 8 seater mini bus for the two hour drive to Mequinenza. On arrival, we were all shown to our apartments, which are superbly equipped and comfortable, and arrangements were made to meet up later at the Bar Ebro. There we would have a meal, a few drinks, and meet our guides to make arrangements for the fishing the following morning. Fran and I had been allocated John Deakin as our guide, who I didn’t know at the time but who I now consider a great friend. Also with John were another older couple, although not quite as old as us, Phil Jones and Rose Knight. Phil and Rose had been there for several days, although not cat fishing.
On Monday morning, we started our fishing on one of the swims on Mequinenza’s promenade, which had produced some gigantic fish for John over previous weeks, although he did warn us that it had been slowing down because of the pressure. In fact, that first day, there was no action whatever, although we all sat it out until midnight. When John dropped Fran and me off at our apartment, we had decided that I would be up at 6.00am but that Fran would lie in until 8.00am. John would leave me with the fishing rods while he called back to pick Fran up. We already knew that Phil and Rose had other plans for the day and, in the event, it transpired that they did no further cat fishing until the Friday.
On Tuesday morning, John and I set up at a new swim, immediately downstream of the main bridge over the river Segre, a few hundred yards above the confluence with the Ebro.
For five hours, all was peaceful. And then, in late morning, a tremendous bang on the nearest rod was followed by the high pitched rush of braid being torn off the reel against a tightly set drag. After tightening the star drag on the multiplier, I struck hard into the fish. The power of what I’d hooked nearly took my breath away and that first experience of a big Segre catfish was truly awesome. I could soon see why I’d been told to tighten the drag as much as possible. Although I could not physically take line against the drag, the catfish had no such problem. Braid was whistling out! I had to strain every sinew to keep the rod up and avoid being pointed, and after about ten minutes of truly arm wrenching action, with my groin well and truly bruised from the pounding of the rod butt, the fish approached the rocky bank. John carefully made his way to the water’s edge where he grabbed the trace and gently drew the fish to where he could get a firm grip on the jaw with a gloved right hand. While maintaining a firm hold, he told me to keep a tight line as he inserted a soft rope stringer around the strong jawbone and out through the top of the gill cover. Then he popped out the hook and the fish was secure. I’ll never forget John’s words at that moment. “It’s about 150lbs, mate”.

In the event, he was just 1lb out. After zeroing the sling, we confirmed the weight of my first Segre catfish as 149lb. Ten minutes later, photographs taken and the fish safely back in the water, I turned to John, only to get a full bucket of water over me. “It’s traditional for a 150lb cat”, he said, “and 149lb is close enough!” In truth, the water was very welcome. I was hot, sweaty and covered in catfish slime, but couldn’t be happier. The three of us had silly grins on our faces as we broke open celebratory beers from the cool box.
In mid afternoon, I was in action once again and this fish went off as though jet propelled. It was interesting as that was a pattern that was repeated for the week with the smaller fish. I use the word “smaller” in a very relative sense as this second fish was 72lb, a modest cat by Spanish standards but a monster back home. Once again, I was soon covered in slime and grinning like a hyena, with arms full of catfish. That second fish was returned about 4.00pm and there was to be no further action that day, although we fished until midnight.
What was really interesting over the next two days was that the late morning to mid afternoon feeding spell remained consistent. On the Wednesday, I had a fabulous brace in under an hour. At 11.30, my third cat of the trip pulled the scales to 103lbs and then my personal highlight was taking a beautiful buttercup yellow half albino of 128lb at 12.15pm. Again, the evening and after dark fishing proved fruitless.
On the Thursday, two cats again came in the same feeding time zone, with an 87lb fish at 11.30am and a 78lb fish at 2.30pm. After the second, carp moved in on the feed and three were landed between 3.00pm and 6.45pm. One was estimated by John at 18lbs and released, while the other two were brought on to the bank and weighed properly. I was delighted to confirm two gorgeous commons of 25lb and 34lb, although of course they’d had absolutely no chance on the strong catfish tackle.
That evening, the pattern was broken, with our first fish in the dark, a catfish of exactly 40lbs. Although I was pleased to have another one in the bag, John was telling me how unlucky I was to get three fish in a day and not have at least one over 100lbs. I tell you, what I would give to have three such fish in a day at home!

The next day, I was to get another 40 pounder at 3.30pm, but that was the sum total of the action in the daylight hours. We had to wait until 11.00pm, on an uncharacteristically chilly evening, before one of the fishing rods roared off at last. This was another memorable scrap, with the fish hurtling downstream across the other three lines. This was where John’s experience proved so important. With me battling the fish as hard as I dare, John was playing knit one, purl two with the other lines. When I eventually had the fish ready for landing at the lowest part of the bank, John had managed to avoid even a momentary tangle. As we heaved it ashore, I could tell that it was another 100lb plus. So it proved as the needle swung to 107lb, and John and I cracked open two beers before calling it a night.
The next morning, our last, was truly memorable. We had decided that we would only fish until 3.00pm before returning to our apartments for a shower and change, and then meeting up in a good restaurant for a civilised meal and drinks. Up to now, we’d lived on take away meals on the bank, which John had fetched for us while we watched the gear. Phil joined John and me at 8.00am and would be staying until the end. The next run was Phil’s and, at mid morning, one of the rods hooped over and Phil joined battle with a real leviathan. For the first time, he experienced the brutish power of a Spanish cat. This was the first time I’d had the opportunity of being behind the camera for some action shots and through the viewfinder I knew that this was one massive catfish. When its tail broke surface some thirty yards offshore, John and I looked at one another. When it was eventually ready to bring ashore, it took the three of us to drag it to the tarpaulin, and two of us could barely support it for the weighing. Soon, we confirmed 184lb and, a few minutes later, Phil got two buckets over him. “It’s two for a 180”, explained John.
Not long after that monster had been returned, I was soon in action again with another big fish of 121lbs, and then Phil completed an unbelievable brace when we eventually hauled ashore another cracking cat of 175lb. At that moment, I promised that I’d send him some of the special cream I bought years ago, especially formulated for polishing golden appendages. On a serious note, I’d have loved to have caught on of those last morning monsters, of course I would. But I was delighted for Phil. If I wasn’t destined to catch them, I was certainly privileged to be there to witness them. It also proved that you don’t have to be a fanatic like me to catch monster fish. With the expert guidance that Catmaster Tours provides, anyone can enjoy such fabulous fishing. Give Colin Bunn a ring and get yourself on a plane to Spain. I guarantee you won’t regret it.