Hi, my name is Steve"Budgie" Burgess I live on the south coast of Kent in Great Britain. I have been fishing for over 35 years now the last twelve or so for Catfish. Since leaving the Army in 1988 I have been trying to make a living out of the sport I love so much as a guide. Not many of us here in the UK as you have in the States. Robby recently saw one of my photographs and asked me to write a few words introducing you to the Wels Catfish that we have here in Europe, so here we go.

Two UK caught Catfish. Their very pale colour is due to the murkiness of the water in the small estate lake that they came from. Fish from waters with a higher clarity are generally of a much darker colour. In extreme cases black! The European or Wels Catfish (Silurus glanis) originates from Eastern Europe, where in Russia they have been netted (by commercial fishermen) up to 16’ long and over 600 lbs in weight. This makes the Wels one of the largest fresh water fish in the world, along with the Nile Perch and the Aripaima. They were first brought to England in 1864 but unfortunately the stocking was unsuccessful and all the fish perished. Several unsuccessful attempts were made until 1880 when about 70 Cats were put into a lake at the stately home of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. These were the ancestors of all of the true British Catfish. Over the years (mainly by illegal movement by enthusiasts) the Cats spread to many more waters. In the 80’s many more waters were stocked thanks to the newly formed Catfish Conservation Group. They are still comparatively rare in the UK despite many illegal stockings from abroad. Due to our relatively short and not particularly warm summers the Cats have not been able to reach their true potential sizes. A true British Cat over 30lbs is a good fish. I say true as some unscrupulous fishery owners have illegally brought in giant Cats from abroad and stocked them into small commercial fisheries (some of only a few acres!). These are much like your "pay lakes"! Some of these fish are over 100lb! Due to this the British Catfish Record List is in a bit of a mess and the BRFC (British Record Fish Committee) are no longer taking record claims for the Catfish. The way we fish for UK Cats is with an 11’-12’ 2lb test curve carbon rod with 12lb line. We use similar live baiting tactics to the ones that I will show you for Europe. Hook sizes are about 3/0 with a 5"-6" bait. As well as live baits the Cats here will eat nearly anything! On waters that are fished for Carp a lot, the anglers bait up (chum) with lots of boillies. The Cats soon learn these are good to eat. I have both caught and seen Cats caught, on every type of dead fish going! Baits like tinned luncheon meat and raw liver also work. I have even seen 30lb+ fish pick up the competition angler’s maggots. Any thing goes! They are a strong fish and fight hard on the tackle we use. Like most of our fish they are always returned alive. After having fished for Cats in the UK for a few years it was a logical step to go to Europe, where they grow a lot bigger and fish for them.

The last sight that many a Spanish Carp sees!


One of my first 100lb+ Cats from Spain.

More Wels tips
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