POPULAR general fishing blogger Colin Mitchell is back with a close look at catfish.

OK, I reckon that the haters out there probably won that vote so I’ll wind them up even further by saying I’m all for the moggies!

Now I am not a big lover of cats – much prefer dogs – but when it comes to catfish I change my mind.

They can be an intriguing fish to try and tempt onto your hook and for those who haven’t caught a decent sized one let me tell you they fight like nothing else you have hooked in British freshwater.

I know they are not native to the UK – but don’t forget neither are a few other species, including carp!

‘Evil alien invaders’

Those old enough will be able to cast their minds back a few decades to when there was public outcry at the explosion of zander in the Fens.

Like many other anglers I saw zander as evil aliens that were going to munch their way through fish stocks with frightening efficiency as they spread throughout the country.

Indeed it is hard to argue that for a number of years the species did impact big time on waters in the East Midlands.

Zander are still unloved in some areas of the country into which they have spread, most notably Midlands canals.

Kirk zander 18-11-1

But what many people do not realise is that zander are now in virtually every major river system in the country – and no one is blaming them for slumps in sport.

In fact a number of rivers in which zander are present are currently enjoying some of their best sport for years, so what has happened?

Some of the places in the Fens that were once all but written off have also bounced back and zander have become a popular fish among many predator hunters.

Balance will get restored

Nature has a way of correcting the balance for all species – and the same will happen for catfish.

Catfish can eat quite a bit as they pile on the weight. But they won’t have a population or size explosion in our rivers like they had on Spain’s famed River Ebro.

I’m no scientist but I know our ecosystem is totally different and the colder weather here will hold back the development of catfish.

I know a few waters where a handful of smaller catfish were stocked legally a number of years ago and where they have now grown to monster sizes.

At least two of the venues stock fish annually knowing full well that these stockies will probably end up in a catfish’s belly.

But I know that sport for other fish, like bream, roach, carp and tench is currently at an all-time high on these waters.

I can’t explain why, I just know it is a fact.

Maybe the cats scoff the lame and injured fish first and both these waters also have a good recruitment of stock after spawning each year.


Maybe these waters, which are well fished, see quite an influx of free offerings from anglers in the shape of pellets and boilies that the catfish ensure are not let to go to waste if ignored by the other fish.

I’d even go so far as to say sport in one of the waters has improved a lot since the catfish started to grow – and breed!

Maybe it’s the warmer summers we have had that has led to better spawning and breeding conditions which in turn has given enough live food for the catfish as well an improving sport.

And before anyone starts saying it will all fall apart when we get some cold Springs and summers – maybe it will, but I think it’s more likely you will see less food for the catfish leading to a decline in their own numbers and breeding.

At the moment I see no reason to panic about cats. They’ve been around a few more years than most people realise and until they are a proven danger I’m in their corner…

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