Tuesday, 25 September 2007 00:00
When a photo of a young boy with a big catfish caught on a nymph appeared in a 2002 issue of the Czech magazine Rybarstvi (Fishing), I did not much believe it. A ten-year old boy kneeling behind a fish as big as a log, caught on a fine fly-fishing rod? My doubts increased when I tried to contact the fisher by mail, and after a couple months still nobody had replied. So I set out for Velká Bíteš to the Skoda family.
Mrs. Skoda welcomed me, saying that Mirek was running somewhere around the house, and she had his younger sister get him. In the meanwhile, she told me some initial information and started to search for a videotape with the most important moments of the catch.
Mirek arrived soon and told me about fishing with his father Vladimir at the Dalesice reservoir on September 21, 2002. Fishing from a boat, the father was leading and the son was fly-fishing for carps. They both are passionate fly-fishers and fish for rainbow trout in the Policka reservoir, in Lake Ostrov, or for greyling on the Oslava River. They catch carp on nymphs due to a lack of opportunities, but they have considerable trophies. Three weeks before, his father even caught a catfish 132 cm long in the Dalesice reservoir, but let it go.
It had been a warm September day, better for sunbathing than fishing, and nothing was really happening on the water. They had not had any takes and so began to doubt whether it had been a good idea to go fishing that day. Mirek was fishing with a floating line and a Grey-Black lure of his own make. He was fishing for carps by casting and letting the fly sink while slowly retrieving. He had tied his carp specialty on a Maruto 7017 hook, size 12. The fly head was formed by a small silver bead, the body of grey ostrich feathers wound around the hook shank, and the tail of the lure was of black marabou. The leader was about 220 cm long with a 0.18 mm Stroft nylon tippet, on an Okuma reel and an 8'6'' Scientific Anglers rod 5/6.
It was about two in the afternoon when Mirek registered a take about 1 meter deep, and after the strike a swirl of water formed on the surface. The fish, however, did not emerge and pulled down to the bottom instead. After half an hour it was clear to them it was a catfish. Every reasonable angler would at that moment get a hold of the line and just let it break. They, however, began a fight not very different from that legendary struggle of the old man and the sea.
The catfish towed both the anglers and the boat, but Mirek held like a tick. After an hour he was so tired that he gave the rod over to his father, and then they took turns pulling in the giant for another two hours.
After these three hours, the catfish got tired, and chose an old, well-proven tactic - sinking to the bottom. "Whatever you want to do with me, just do it." The father Vladimir decided to break the line and started to tighten it to the breaking point. The line, however, instead of breaking just got shorter and shorter, and in a moment, the catfish was by the boat, clearly frightened at what was going on.
It fought for another half an hour, but finally after more than 200 minutes it resigned and let itself be pulled to the bank. There, another difficulty arose, as the largest of their back nets would only hold its head. Joining forces, they pulled it out onto the bank.
A big gathering of present anglers came around - everyone wanted to see it.
The quarry was absolutely enormous - 185 cm in length and weighing 48 kg.
Near the bank it spat out a half-a-meter long bream - such a big boy it was - but a three-centimeter nymph had become fatal to it. What made it take this unusual bait is impossible to know, but in any case it proved to be final.
This Czech fly-fishing record was confirmed, and who knows whether it will ever be broken. Years ago, when I encouraged one Czech national team member - a great catfish hunter who today no longer represents the country - to catch such a trophy fish, he regarded me as if I had gone crazy. But after not so many years it became a reality. These are the beauties of fishing. Several years later I found out that that catfish was heavier than the presently valid Rudi Heger's World Record of 2005.