|Big Cat for contestant Kev Midmore|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 21:51|
Monster 234lb Catfish on a lure rod
Having not been to Spain for nearly two years I jumped at the offer to go for a quick 3 day trip. It would be a semi working trip, though, sorting through all the fishing gear and equipment we had stored out there, getting the company Landrover up and running and ready to be driven home etc, but there would be time to get a few baits out, and also time to catch up with some old friends that I hadn’t seen for a long while.
So it was all booked and planned, we would leave Stanstead airport on Nov 11th and then fly back home on the 14th.
With hand luggage only it didn’t take long to get through arrivals at Zaragoza airport and on the road to Mequinenza. It is only a reasonably short drive of around 1 hour 40 through some great countryside into this very well known catfish mecca, so a quick trip to the local supermarket to get some food supplies and then it was off to the bank to get on with some fishing.
Gaz and Danny had already got the swim set up for us, so we had the baits out and into position within an hour of arriving, cracked open a cold beer and sat back to natter about fishing, of course.
The weather was reasonably warm for the time of year so it was a very welcome break from work, sitting in the sun with the chance of a bonus fish or two can never be taken for granted can it.
I had travelled out with good friend Rick Parfitt (not the one from Status Quo), plus two successful businessmen who wanted to “have a crack” at Catfishing. With personal best fish of around 20lb and having never seen a Catfish before it was fingers crossed time as flood water above the dam was making fishing near impossible. We were originally going to fish at Caspe until the water levels changed our plans for us.
James & Alan were the ones fishing, Rick and I were not going to touch a rod until they had both had at least one ton-up fish each. As I’ve said, our main reason for going was just to get away for a couple of days and to sort out our gear.
Nothing happened the first day, we fished until midnight, as allowed, and then got some kip. Not a sniff on any of the rods, but fishing in November can be slow so we told the guys not to panic, we still had two days to get a moggie or two.
Next day we were up early and got the rods out. As usual, the dreaded pellet/squid were on the menu, it’s all the fish seem to take here now. With live-baiting banned, options are short, and with clients trying for their first ever Catfish you have to get one on the bank.
I had just returned from a very hard trip, fishing the river Tisza in Hungary. That was proper Catfishing, a staggering 1,300 mile drive, then clonking for hours a day for 4 days, just for 4 very small fish. So to see a big fish would be a bonus no matter how it was caught.
The rod bent over mid afternoon and James hooked into a good fish. A strong hard fight and a tired, sweating James was grinning as the fish neared the bank, nearly as tired as he was.
The leader was grabbed by Rick and the head of the fish came to the surface… “Jesus, that’s a 200lb fish” we shouted, it was huge. We lifted the fish into a sling and heaved it off the ground, 203lb, not bad for the first fish of the trip.
Alan was into a fish a few hours later. Another good fight saw another massive fish on the bank, this time 176lb. The girls were big this time of the year, bulking up for the winter when they would be resting up in the deeper water.
Whilst sorting through all the fishing tackle we had been storing in Spain, we came across a couple of Fox lure rods. These were the predator 7-foot, 60 gramme lure rods used for boat fishing for pike etc. We have arranged to go out to Spain in the spring to try some lure fishing & fly fishing for Catfish on the smaller tributaries that run into the Ebro. So we decided to set the lure rod up with a pellet rig, put it out to one side and wait to see if we had a fish on it.
The rig was made up with the very reliable Alpha Link from top quality Catfish tackle supplier Yoursup, complete with beads & mainline braid from the same supplier. It was all set, the main reason was to see how it faired with a big fish on, better now than whilst in a canoe half way up the Segre!!
Who was going to have the fish? James and Alan had the four normal rods out so they were sorted, me or Rick, that was the dilemma. “you organized the trip so you go first” I said to Rick. Then Rick confronted me with “left or right hand?” He had a pebble in his hand. ”left” I said, “no, right”, he showed me the pebble in his right hand so it was done. ”well done mate, you are first” I said to him and shook his hand.
“Oh no” he said “I won so I choose, you go first, I want to see you get beaten up on those rods” he laughed.
Not really expecting anything to happen, we sat back waiting for action, then all of a sudden the lure rod bent over. We all laughed and cheered as I jumped up and struck into what I immediately knew was a big fish.
The rod was bent in half and I just couldn’t stop the fish, “get the boat ready, I think we’re chasing this one” I said, but then she turned and I started to gain some line back. A very hard and powerful 45 minute fight and the fish surfaced near the bank… I had never seen anything like it, she was massive.
I knew she was 200 plus by the sheer size of her head, so there was a few heart stopping moments as she made another dash for freedom and rolled over the line, then with a vice like grip Rick and Gaz grabbed her and she was mine.
I dropped the rod and jumped down the bank to see my prize, my heart was pumping with excitement, my hands shaking as we lifted her into the sling, this was a very very big fish, well over 200lb, but just how big.
We heaved the sling off the ground and the scales settled at 234lb, I could never have dreamed such an amazing day. She was measured at 8 foot 4 inches long, photographed and then released.
What a trip! We left with a tally of five big fish, 127, 137, 176, 203 and 234, in a weekend. Just how big will these fish get and will a 200lb fish soon be the norm out there? We shall just have to wait and see.
Gaz guided 17 fish over 200lb this year alone, so there is no telling how many big fish there are swimming around waiting to be caught, a 300lb fish?, surely not?
I will 100% be using those lure rods in April when I go back. I can’t wait, lure fishing this time in the shallows, I know they can handle a big fish so the questions have been answered, the video footage of the fight proves that too.