Day 2 on the bank
After the first days fishing got off to a great start, and we duly celebrated in the Jolly Fisherman, waking up on day two we were filled with questions yet again. Would we catch more cats? Would we catch more carp? Would we catch bigger fish, more fish, less fish or no fish at all?
We scoffed breakfast as quickly as we could and headed off to find some answers to our questions. We split into the same two groups as the first day, only this time the guides switched places and guided opposite groups. The group I was in headed back to the spot we’d fished on the previous day. It made sense as we’d had fish, and put a fair amount of bait out for the cats to feed on.
So the script was largely the same for us, row out the baits and big leads, baiting up as we go, setting the rods high in the air keeping line out of the powerful flow. Baitrunners ON and bells on the rod tips. I emphasise the fact baitrunners need to be on, as without them rods are easily snapped by ferocious takes from big cats.
The sun beamed down again as we patiently waited for a bite, chewing the fat, and putting anything and everything in the world to rights!
It wasnt too long before we were into action again with the cats, with Owain into his first ever Wels Catfish! A non fisherman, Owain controlled the fish superbly, gaining line when he could and letting it run when he couldn’t!
Notice Carl stood to the right of Owain, calmly watching the action unfold, well that didn’t last as the rod in front of him tore off! On it as quick as a flash Carl was also into what looked like another good fish.
Now this was interesting!! Two rods with what looked like big cats on the other end. Owain by this time had almost gotten his fish to the bank after an immense battle. I gave him a few playing tips along the way, which, probably weren’t needed, and to be fair bit me on the arse later anyway!
As Owains cat finally gave in and he had it in his hands it was an amazing sight to see. A total newcomer to fishing he showed exceptional, natural fish care skills. Keeping the fish in the river, and constantly covering it’s exposed back with water whilst the mat and weigh scales were prepared.
Of course with such a special capture of two target fish on the bank we set about a shot of the brace. This was fantastic, and really was a highlight of the trip, I was so pleased for them both at catching special fish, at the same time too!
Following this flurry of activity, it was me who hit the next bite on one of the rods over to my right. I struck into what felt like the bottom of the river, but then it moved…….not a lot though, and then it just felt like I had hooked a log and was dragging it across the river. I disappointingly explained to the lads what was going on, and that I wasnt attached to anything but one of the large logs we’d seen. At this point I thought I heard Gaz whisper behind me to someone, ‘This is a big fish‘, but I couldn’t be sure, maybe I was just dreaming again, as I all too often do! I heaved and heaved this log across the river, until it got to about half way across, kicked, and charged back over to the opposite side and way up river at a seriously quick pace! This, wasn’t a log, and it was just a case of hanging on while it went where it wanted to go!
Owain returned the favour I’d bestowed him, and offered me some tips on how to control the run, acknowledging my earlier attempt at giving him some tips, ‘it will kick and shake its head, it might go on a few powerful runs’ he said, yeah cheers mate!
It really was immense, and the only real words that do it any justice at all are ‘sheer brutal power’. I’d never felt anything like this before, in any aspect of my life, not just fishing. It charged and charged like a raging bull, then gently let me gain a little line, then a little more, reposition my feet for a better grip, then charged off again! I have no idea how long the fight lasted, but it felt like a lifetime, running through every emotion in my mind, and searing every muscle in my body.
As it drew closer, and we both grew weaker from the struggle it finally came into view about 15meters out in the river. I was awe-struck. Firstly, I hadn’t been battling a log, which was a relief, but more importantly it was the most magnificent creature I had ever seen. Whats more, just a few more careful maneuvers and a safe landing would see me get up close and personal with this stunning creature.
With the expert guidance of Gaz we landed the fish without incident, and I was just blown away. This, to date, is my personal highlight in my angling life. I have many great memories of fishing trips, but this one moment, in the water with this special creature, was very special to me. At 156lb there are much bigger cats about, but this one gave me a glorious memory that I’ll treasure forever, I’ll let the pictures tell the story of how I felt……. After all that, this is the one picture that sums it all up. It captures as well as a picture can exactly how this moment made me feel. I was awe-struck, full of pride and admiration, and felt truly privileged to be this close to such a stunning creature. After the long battle I let the fish recover on my lap for as long as it wanted. Until it was ready, flicked its huge tail, and slipped back to its watery home.
Buzzing is a word that’s overused to describe a feeling of being energized from something, but that’s exactly how I felt all night! Telling the story and trying my best to describe how the fish felt over and over again!
Off we went that evening for a chinese in the local town, which was simply amazing! If I remember right (and if I don’t I’m sure I’ll be corrected) we paid €20 each for an all you can eat mega meal, which was stunning, stand out point for me were the spring rolls hanging of the sides of the plates they were that big! We then stumbled off into the night, full bellied and a little tipsy, and back to the bar for a swift one before turning in.
Could day three possibly bring anything to top this…………..