Catfish, Carp and Kids – Not Just Teeth: August
This month Mark Barrett is getting to grips with one of his least favourite months in the angling calendar.
I have to say that after April, which is usually a pretty crap month for anything other than carp, that August is my least favourite month in the entire angling calendar.
Well, for starters the weather is usually at its hottest, the water levels pretty much at their lowest and the weed only thinking about dying back. Then you have the kids’ summer holidays and holidaying in general which sees an extra number of ‘weekend Admirals’ on the rivers ploughing their highly erratic course and you can see why I tend to give fishing a backseat in August, but this year was slightly different.
I haven’t before had a ten year old as a fishing partner and although I got two weeks’ grace at the start of the holidays as Adam was in Disneyland with his mum and dad it wasn’t long after they had returned that we were back on the bank, only this was to be Adam’s first taste of match fishing.
I haven’t really ever been into match fishing much; I did fish a junior match on the Ouse when I was a kid and I won a keepnet and was given a better one by the guy who helped me to amass my 7oz of gudgeon! Other than that there have been two or three pike matches and the big press pike match on Lough Ree, which I actually managed to win, and that is pretty much the full sum of my knowledge, so it was pretty much a case of the blind leading the partially sighted!
At the draw there were 30 plus kids all gathered around grabbing gear, winding each other up and forgetting to draw, it really was great fun to watch but I bet the organiser slept well that night!
Eventually all thirty odd kids and their helpers were in their various pegs and Adam and I got to work sorting out our gear. We were going for two separate attacks: a waggler rig for close in and a method feeder to fish the ubiquitous island in the middle of the lake. We based the plan on the fact that everywhere else on the lake we had caught well on meat on the float close in and that these two methods were all we could use with the tackle we had...
As we set up Adam noticed that the guy in the next peg was setting up a proper match platform and so in Adam’s mind this made him the favourite! I laughed at this when he told me so and pointed out that it could well belong to his dad, who was helping him get set up. But that cut no mustard with Adam and this was hois main target for the match and oddly so it proved to be!
We started out on the float, oddly forgetting the usual effect of stampeding kids on near margins, and after our first half hour we were biteless and because of this, and not in any way because our opponent on the next peg had caught two fish on his (one a good carp) we switched to the feeder.
However the switch did no good at all and we ended up chasing our tail for the next two hours only putting one 2oz perch in the net whilst our opponents had at least two decent fish in the net. With the constant stream of kids going round the lake it was easy to keep up with progress and it was obvious that our next door neighbour was way in the lead, if we could just catch a few though we were in with a chance.
With forty minutes to go our situation hadn’t changed so we had one last throw of the dice, putting maggots onto the hook of our method feeder and going back over to the island. Barely had the rod been sorted than it was away but in his haste to get a fish in the net Adam gave it too much welly and the hook came free...
We re-baited and went over again for a repeat performance, only this time the result was a carp in the 4-6lb range in the net. I calculated this put us very close to the next peg, perhaps just a bit behind, the tension was growing...only for them to go and catch a proper mirror of about 6lb whilst we could only manage a couple of F1’s.
Despite the guys next door claiming that it was going to be close I put their mirror at over 6lb so unless we managed to hook one of the rarer big fish second was the best we were likely to get in the time we had left, and so it proved. Maybe if we had made that switch half an hour earlier, or we had half an hour more at the end we would have got there, but there are always loads of “what ifs” in sport and Adam was pleased with his second place, picking up a nice new reel and a trophy into the bargain and making plans to win it next year. All I know is angling was definitely the winner and a big ‘well done’ to all involved.
Moving away from matches my own fishing has been somewhat limited due to various reasons, with looking for a full time job the most pressing! I have managed a few social sessions which I normally save for this time of the year as the participants are not always anglers and so appreciate the better weather more so than any fish they are likely to land!
Consequently I have had some average fishing at times this month and instead I have taken the time to do some of the family things and stuff away from fishing that we all have to do with the highlight being taking Adam on the Harry Potter tour around the studios where the films were made. The trip was actually for my fortieth birthday earlier in the year, paid for by my sister, and as a bit of a Potter fan it really was a brilliant day and fascinating to see how some of the stuff was brought to life. But better still was racing back to watch our football team, Watford, beat Birmingham live on the TV, a properly memorable day!
Back to the fishing and I have been trying to make a combined zander/rudd film with George Day, a friend of mine that is a bit of a YouTube sensation as ‘The Fenland Fisherman’. Despite our best efforts no zander and only one average rudd have hit the net in two trips and so that has had to go onto the back burner until next year as George is shortly off to university. However, we did have one last chance to do some filming before he departed to Hull and the target was to be my filming nemesis - the catfish!
I have had a couple of goes at filming for cats in this country and on both occasions the films were notable because of their absence of catfish so, despite going to a water where there were, supposedly, a large number of cats present, I wasn’t counting my chickens.
At first we were plagued by small carp attacking our baits, I even managed to catch one of about 6lb on half a tin of luncheon meat, which caused Mike the ‘Swamp Monster’ - who had joined us for the day - much amusement. In fact it was Swampy who got the ball rolling with the cats by landing a nine pounder on a double boilie bait. George was then into action with a quick brace, one of 14lb followed by one 13lb smaller!
All this time I was getting bugged by carp, landing one of 14lb and having false runs from others; in fact I was just on the point of giving my lobworm rig up (I was actually tying up a new rig) when it signalled my first moggie action, albeit with my smallest catfish ever of around 4lb! This fish though opened the floodgates and was soon followed by much better cats of 18lb and 15lb and my final fish of the day, a seventeen pounder. Swampy had a sixteen on my rod, and missed one, then I managed to lose one when it picked up my second line before we called it a wrap!
We had a great day with loads of daft happenings, not least of all when George caught a carp on a bare hook when it was left on the fishing platform! How the hook got into the water in the first place is a mystery, but to then hook a fish was just bizarre!
So with worms gone and the light fading it was time to call it a day and to draw the month - and this diary - to a close. See you next time.
By the Same Author
- The Angling Trust, an ‘Unbelievably Weak Governing Body’ - Not Just Teeth: December
- Fishing in Sickness and in Health - Not Just Teeth: November
- Jigging for Zander and Deadbaiting for Pike - Not Just Teeth: October
- Autumn perch and catfish - Not Just Teeth: September
- Catfish, Carp and Kids – Not Just Teeth: August
- Paying your Dues?
- Zander Fishing - Shadows in the Moonlight: Part 3
- Zander Fishing - Shadows in the Moonlight: Part 2
- Sounding Off
- Zander Fishing - Shadows in the Moonlight