So as many of you know due to work commitments it had been a while since I had been able to manage a decent session down at Snowberry and all your tales of catches was, quite frankly driving me stark staring mad.
Anyway long story short I managed, by fair means and foul, to wangle a 48 hour window.
The plan was to make a concerted effort for some cats as apart from the big one I caught and 1 I lost I hadn’t really got stuck into them and I knew that July historically down there was when they really started to show.
This in mind and with time being tight, before I went away on last batch of shows I prepared a noxious mix of cat food, mussels, minced whole sardines (really gross by the way) pellet meal worm and a copious amount of cod liver oil.
I felt like I was chumming for shark whilst mixing it and the smell was vile but looked like it would work. Having bravely waited until the wife left for work I deposited this mix into the depths of the freezer and covered with the assorted detritus that occupies all freezers.
So the plan was that when I flew home on Sunday morning I would chill out for a little while and attend to all the domestic chores required to keep the browny point bank in the black and then around 2am drive to the lake to set up in time for first light this would give me all day Monday, Monday night then until early Wednesday am when I HAD to leave.
Come the witching hour, (well half hour before) I was in the van and thundering the familiar route to Snowberry.
I had figured that with weather having been as it had I would get the bivvy up first so that when heavens opened I could keep stuff dry whilst setting up. This proved to be unnecessary as for once the rain stayed away and so come around 430am I had everything in the Boards ready to go, I couldn’t believe it.
After a couple of wayward casts to get rid of the rustiness I had 1 rod clipped up ready to go out to the island on the left hand rod, middle rod fished about 3 yards off the middle pads and the right hand rod was to be the cat rod.
The aforementioned Hazmat’ went out in the right hand margin pads as I knew the cats got in the margin between the dead tree and the boards and soon there was a very satisfying slick of cod liver oil bits of fish etc floating amongst those pads, for the other rods I was not going to put a lot of bait out as I didn’t want to spook the fish by bombarding a spod at them so instead settled for around 40 baits over each rod the island rod fished as a bottom bait with pads rod on a pop up and the cat rod on a very smelly 20 mm sardine and anchovy boilie topped with a heavily glugged bloodworm pop up creating a sort of snowman.
All rods and bait out and a whole pack of wet wipes used to rid my hands of the stink of cat bait I settled down to soak in that special Snowberry atmosphere.
It was a stunning morning and weather perfect for fishing overcast with a slight breeze, and around 6am the cats started swirling on the surface attacking the shoals of silver fish, they seemed to be everywhere and I am sure that there activities put the carp down as I didn’t see any carp showing anywhere.
After the night drive etc come 8am I decided it was time for a well earned kip as the show seemed to be slowing down.
Around 11am and the island rod is melting as line screams away I struck into it and it kept going hugging the island margins and clipping the over hanging branches it wouldn’t leave that shelter eventually after about 5 or 6 minutes of toing and froing it became jammed solid in some unseen snag at base of the island. I tried everything to budge the critter but things were solid so I thought I would slacken off and await developments. I left it with a slack line for about 10 mins then picked up the rod again I felt the fish move and it took a few yards of line which I managed to get back and thought it would keep coming but it felt as if it just went back to where the original snag was and again locked up. This process was repeated 5 times over the next 45 minutes with me releasing the tension for a while and then resuming the battle only for it to move out me to get it back to same snag then all go solid.
It seemed as I only had 1 option and take to the boat as fish still on and I couldn’t leave it there. But its always a worry taking boat out when you are alone especially trying to wrangle, net, fish, rod, oars etc and so I was very reluctant even ringing Paul to see if he was in the area to give me a hand.
After an hour of this I decided I had to bite the bullet and get the boat out so I took bail arm off wound all other rods in took off shoes and socks etc and prepared to get afloat.
By now fish had had total slack line for about 20 minutes and I thought ok 1 last go before boat timeit came out! The total slack line obviously made it think it was free because when I wound down and pulled after initial resistance it popped out into the open water and after some token resistance it rolled into the net 1 hour 10 minutes after being hooked.
Sods law of course dictated that it would be a cat not on the cat rod but on the bottom bait by the island, I don’t know who was more relieved it or me after all that, it weighed 29lb 12oz.
I was so relieved I hadn’t had to take to the boat and had had the patience to wait it out.
Couple hours later Richard came round for a short session and whilst he was there the cat rod screamed off and after a dogged but relatively uneventful fight I had another cat at over 19lb.
The night was uneventful (or so I thought) but when I reeled in the next morning I had a 2oz roach hooked on the island rod and after a twitchy run at 1st light which I thought I had missed a bream of about 2lb!!
I changed rigs 10am noon the next day as a few carp started moving as the cats stopped performing and changed to more carp friendly baits, around 1pm the pads rod battered off and I was into a good fish that steamed straight into the pads I got it our of the pads 3 times only for it to power straight back in and at 1 stage I had it half way between pads and me but it then changed its mind and hammered into the middle and stuck fast.
The next half hour was a carbon copy of the island fish and once again it needed a decent period of slack line, I took the bail arm off and let loads of slack go then just put bail arm back over and let it on the buzzers I then sat down had a coffee and called the wife, half way through the conversation the line tightened up and started clicking the bait runner over as line came out and then the fish that was locked up was free and once again came into the net relatively easily, 30lb cat and a really long fish.
Having exorcised my cat urge I really wanted a carp and the way they were showing I felt really confident but despite fish showing everywhere I couldn’t get a take, after a fish showed 3 times between doubles and the pads I decided enough was enough and reeled in my rod by the pads changed the pop up for a zig and punched it out to where the fish had shown, now I know this sounds like something out of a mag but honestly the zig had not been in the water 10 minutes when off it went.
Now if you have been on the forum recently you will know I had been asking about the almost fully scaled fish, (there seems to be 2) and what had happened to it?
Well its alive and well and over 26lb in weight, it does have a big lump on its side as kev mentioned but is an incredible looking creature I couldn’t believe it!
The last night loomed and I was a very content angler who turned in after my customary watching the sun go down as it is special down there.
Snowberry hadn’t finished with me yet though and at 230am Trickle came by to the pads rod, she fought so hard that at first I thought it was another cat but when she rolled into the net there was no mistaking her, and she is in immaculate condition weighing in at over 28lb and not looking that spawny she surely will regularly hit 30 very soon.
I packed up the next day feeling totally refreshed and really content, I had wanted cats and got them and wanted to see the fully scaled and got that as well with Trickle as a bonus can’t see how it gets better.
To sum up I think I learnt a lot from this session and most importantly not to rush things when fish are stuck I feel we sometimes pull for a break to readily when even though it feels totally solid the fish is still on, also getting the boat out when you are alone can be dangerous guys and I do think you really need to be sure that the fish is stuck and not able to move especially cats they will coil around a snag like a kid on the banisters and no amount of pulling will shift it just let it get itself out and be ready when it does.
So 3 cats, 30, 29 and 19 and 2 carp 26 and 28 wow, what can I say it was a long time coming but more than worth it I hope its not as long until I can get back.