This past season I have organised a smaller/shorter catfish on fly session to allow people to dip their toe to see if they can handle and gear up for the lake that holds the much bigger cats that needs the heavier 12# gear. It also means that folks can use lighter 10# set ups which most already have as everyone already targets Pike on fly.
The fishery has 3 lakes, all 3 hold catfish as well as Carp. Our first run with the shorter sessions was in May, plans soon went sideways as the water temperature hit the ideal temp for catfish to start spawning. We switched over to targeting the Carp in the lake instead.
Roll on the second 48hr trip in August which was cooler than the week we fished in May! (Welcome to the 2023 “Summer”). The forecast was not looking too great for the Friday night with another “storm” rolling through, we all managed to get bivvies, tents and dinner sorted well before the rain set in.
There were a couple of carp jumping to draw us in, Paul was the first to hook up on a Carp; but sadly, it got off well before the net. We carried on fishing in to the dark and I just want to say I take my hat off to Nick, Nick has dabbled in Trout for a year a couple of times. May was the first time he had really spent much more time on fly with his new 10# set up, once we fine-tuned his casting technique, he was off. By the end of that trip, he was shooting a good amount of line. This trip he was tackling casting in the pitch dark and with no issues and got the double haul well and truly sussed.
Couple of us retired when the rain set in around midnight leaving a couple others out for a couple more hours. The first night was quiet on the fish takes front.
Start of the second day saw Ron and Ellie up before the crack of dawn as they had heard a few fish jumping, that sound is irresistible. Mid-morning Ron caught what must be the daftest Carp in the lake, that or it identified as a catfish! It was not foul hooked; this thing nailed a 6” Pike Black/copper Bulkhead on a 2/0 single hook! Best bit is the size of this Carp… no bigger than the fly it decided to hit!
After mussing about the Carp with grand ideas, maybe tying a new line of “carp fly patterns”, we carried on fishing. Nick had swapped the fly rod for a lure rod, casting a white paddle tail rubber lure with single hooks (no trebles allowed at this fishery thankfully). Casting in the margins he hooked into a catfish, fought it for a couple of minutes and as the net was about to slide into the water; it gets off. Gutted!
Things went quiet on us again through the day, we decided to give things a rest and sat chatting about all sorts of things. Most of which I cannot write about as it would curl your toes, need to be redacted or be tutted at. We enjoyed the peace and quiet, nature than dared to venture near to us to include a Goat Moth Caterpillar. We figured out that Ellie has a Jar for that (as to an app for that), Ron cooks a lush curry and trying to get me to fish the bigger ressies for Pike. Nick and I spotted 2 shooting stars, we made our wishes; looked at each other and I asked does it count if we both wishing for the same thing? (a catfish on the end of or lines).
The stories flowed (as well as a few beers) late into dark that were great to hear, we laughed hard, gasped, and cringed.
Under the clear starry night Ellie yelped in excitement as she had hooked in to something big, it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t fighting back and our hearts dropped when we realised it was a snag. Having 40lbs leader meant that we needed to put a good amount of force into forcing a break off, thankfully the snag started to move and soon surfaced. It was a catfish glide mat that had been blown in to the water at some stage, certainly a PB for Ellie.
We fished till 4 in the morning with not one sniff, the lake had been quiet well before it got dark. Simon and Nick had a bait rod out sat on a heap of Mackerel with not a touch. Yes, on the shorter trips we do allow other methods when no one else if fly fishing while on the main lake sessions its only fly fishing.
The final morning rolled in, gear starting to get packed up to include Ellies “tent”. Now Ellie is only 3” taller than I am at 5ft, but this tent was supposed to sleep 2. Certainly not adults of average height, maybe midgets or kids. The instructions said it could be folded by 1 person, it took 3 of us in the end, it resembled a puckered arse at one stage and still didn’t get it back in the bag!
We sadly didn’t see any more fish that morning, just goes to show that this catfish malarkey is NOT as easy as it looks. Just 2 weeks prior saw one of the best cats on fly sessions we have ever had with 15 cats. Its truly the luck of the draw and it certainly has not dampened anyone’s enthusiasm to keep trying for these fish on fly rod.