ANDY LITTLE, a legend of Angler's Mail magazine pages, enjoyed a memorable session at Wintons Fishery last year, and it's been in terrific form in spring 2016. Here's how Andy fished it, to give you catfish insight.
When I went to Wintons Fishery in 2015 it was just over a year ago when sadly my good friend, Alan Etherington passed away but what a legacy he left us at Wintons.
It has taken me a while to get back and fish these waters that I have enjoyed so much over the years. It felt like old times as I settled into peg 12 on Mallard Lake targeting the cats.
I was fishing tight against Alan’s Island where his ashes are scattered and I could hear his words ringing in my ears… “Little, I hope you are using barbless hooks!!”
Mature lakes with big fish
I can’t believe how these lakes have matured over the years. There are three in all Kingfisher, Heron and Mallard which collectively contain catfish approaching 100 lb, carp to nearly 50 lb, double-figure zander and tench.
The one thing I like about Mallard is that you have a realistic chance of getting action from catfish during the daytime as generally they are nocturnal feeders. However, as lovely as the day was in the bright sunshine it was not particularly conducive for good fishing so I prepared myself for a longish day.
My approach was fairly standard for the cats these days. A single 20 mm pellet hair rigged on an Armadillo hook link and a size 6 barbless hook. An inline 2.75 oz flat pear weight completed the rig.
To enhance the hook bait and the freebies I soaked them in a Fish Pro liquid overnight. This slowly leaks off and sends out a great scent trail in the water which hopefully the cats would home in on.
Tight to the islands
It would seem that most of the fish were being caught tight to the islands probably 80 yards or so in front of me. I planted both rods as close as possible to an overhanging tree and fired in about 20 freebies exactly the same as the hook bait. It was now just a matter of sitting back and enjoying the sunshine.
It seems to me the catfish will spend as much time almost sleeping as it were as they do feeding and you need to have your baits in place when they are awake and on the prowl.
They can literally switch on at any moment and it’s often the case that you will get several chances very quickly. Whether this is a digestion habit I’m not sure but those who are far more expert on such matters than I tell me cats have a habit of feeding heavily and then line up for long periods to digest their food which all sounds about right.
As the afternoon wore on the mind games started and I did wonder whether it was going to happen or not. Other than a couple of recasts and a top up of freebies there was little else for me to do.
Big catfish out of the blue
Then suddenly I had a take on my right hand rod right out of the blue! There were no mistakes and I was bent into what was obviously a decent cat.
I was suddenly aware of another buzzer going a couple of swims down to my right and as if by magic another moggie was hooked. Hours of inactivity followed by mayhem – I guess that is catfishing.
I had forgotten just how hard these cats pull and I had a right old tussle for a good twenty minutes or so before finally slipping the net under my first Winton’s cat for many a year. At 51 lb 12 oz I was as pleased as punch in fact so much so I didn’t even bother to recast.
It certainly was a memorable day back on one of my old stomping grounds and I’m sure I will be back to target some of the other species very soon.
ANDY LITTLE’S TOP CATFISH TIPS
VENUE FISHED BY ANDY LITTLE: Wintons Fishery, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 0DR. The venue has a £60 membership fee then you pay for session tickets (from £20 a day). For info call 01444 236493 or check out www.wintonsfishery.com
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