by Lee Johnson
Being a lake owner doesn’t always mean you get to fish whenever you like. This May, I did manage to get a few days fishing in on Lake Lauren here at La Gléhias and decided to go for a Catfish or two as they are hooked often, but rarely landed as the angler on the other end is generally fishing for Carp with Carp rigs. I was also keen to see the progress of them because they get banked so infrequently. In fact the bigger they get the less we get to see them; I can only estimate the smallest to be 48lb and the biggest around 65lb.
The three Cats’ were introduced to keep the number of smaller fish down so I knew I had a bit of a challenge on my hands as I don’t believe they ever go very hungry due to the number of small Tench and Roach.
After witnessing Tommy Chantler’s success with squid in 2008, this had to be my first choice for bait. My first small problem was that I had to buy my squid from a fishmonger, not in a tackle shop. This meant that I had great slabs of squid meat instead of small whole squids.I tied myself some rigs with size one hooks on 50lb bs braid with the hairs around 3 inches long to stitch on the baits which I had now trimmed down to strips of 2 inches wide by 10 inches long – I even cut tentacles into them! The squid off cuts were mixed into some 3kg of large halibut and carp pellets along with about 1kg of broken up Quests Liver B8 boilies. I then added a cupful of lake water and let this steep for an hour to make it cloud instantly in the lake. This absolutely stunk and I was certain the cats would have no problems finding it.
The first rod went to the deepest part of the lake with about a kilo of the stinky mix thrown over it, and to my surprise, within about ten minutes, the alarm was giving off intermittent beeps, but not quite enough to strike on. This had stopped me getting the other two rods in as I’d stood there hovering over it, watching it to see if a run developed. This bleeping was still going on nearly an hour later so I continued to get the other rods in. I planted the second rod into a deep margin on the far bank, and the third to a shallow area that I know the Cats lurk in.
Again, almost immediate bleepage on the second rod after I put the stink mix over it, but with no run. At this point I decided to strike the first rod to try and work out what was going on. Whoa! Something pulled back for a moment. I realised something big was interested in the bait, though definitely not big enough to be a Cat.
My squid had come unstitched from the hair and had gone, so I shortened the hair down to about one and a half inches and used two pieces of squid from the stinky mix of about 20mm square and a 20mm Liver B8 boilie shaped like an apple core (I rarely fish a perfect round boilie). This went back out into deep water over the baited spot.
There can only have been a two hour wait before I had a very short run which stopped before I even managed to touch the rod. As a rule I generally don’t move any thing for a while after this kind of bite so the line was now slightly slack and the swinger was still on the floor. Another ten minutes or so passed and it went again, this time like a speedboat. I struck into it and it wasn’t long before I knew it wasn’t a Cat but a Carp. Still, it felt like a decent one. After a short battle the fish was in the net; the scales were zeroed with weigh sling attached and showed the Carp to be 29lb 2oz, pretty good but not the Cat I wanted!
I didn’t have any bivvy set up so I fished into dark and decided to call it a day. I wound in to find my third rod hadn’t been touched and the second rod had all the fake tentacles bitten off my carefully sculpted lump of squid; so that’s what all the blipping was!
The following morning saw one lump of carefully sculpted squid go into the lake followed by two rods with the ‘fish-catching’ combination of Liver B8 and squid pieces. One of these went into the deep margin spot I was fishing on the day before, which was already fizzing like a volcano, or at least it was until I cast the bait to it! The morning passed with the odd blip on all rods and not much else. It was now almost midday, and here at La Glehias, this is generally the time which can be quietest, so I really wasn’t confident that my bait would get a sniff till late afternoon at least. How wrong was I?
The deep margin rod gave a couple of quick beeps and then tore off like a rocket! And when I picked it up, it definitely felt like a big Cat as I struggled to steer it away from another line on the far bank. Bollocks! It had gotten under the other line and this made life even harder. Around fifteen minutes of serious arm ache and the fish was now half way across the lake coming towards me; luckily at this point the other line seemed to have come free and made the immensely angry monster a little easier to play in. I guess it only took another five minutes to get it close to the net when it rolled over in front of me and only then did I realise that this was not a Cat but a Carp!
The exhausted fish eventually yielded and slipped into the net. Phew! That was hard! I then tried to lift the net out of the water to take it to the mat, but I could barely lift it! Luckily, the bent open hook just fell out of the monsters gaping mouth into the net which made it less clumsy to move. The Fox digitals showed the big lump at 43lb 8oz, but this time I had to subtract the weigh sling of 2lb 7oz. A new Carp PB for me of 41lb 1 oz, still not a Catfish but no complaints about that!!
The combination of squid and B8 has continued to catch Carp to around 30lb on other occasions when I have tried it fishing for the Cats including a few nights. When you consider the clumsiness of the set-up that catches highly pressured wary Carp with the size 1 hook and 50lb braid, it can only be one of two things that does it, the unusual looking presentation or irresistible flavour combination of the B8 and fresh squid.
Its funny how you can accidently discover a real winning bait combination for the Carp, but still no bloody Catfish!!! If anyone has any magical tips on baits and rigs for the Cats, please let us know. Tommy? Are you there mate?…..
Lee Johnston – La Gléhias Lakes Owner