Flyfishing IGFA
world record
sharp toothed catfish

Terry Babich
23rd & 24th January 2005

I went to my usual haunt on the Vaal river above the Vaal dam. I was looking for my usual quarry "barbel" (catfish).

It was just before sunset and I reckoned that I could get a few hours fishing before going to sleep so that I would be ready to present a clinic on how to target catfish with a fly the following day, also this would give me the opportunity to know what the fish were up to.

On approaching the water I cast my fly onto the water, it floated and I casted it again only for it to be swallowed by a greedy catfish "OK" so this was going to be a busy day. The fishing was so good that I carried on fishing until 11p.m at this stage I had 20 catfish and 2 carp.

In the moonlight I was still able to see a reasonable disturbance on the surface and this is how I managed to spot my quarry. I would cast my fly in the direction of anything that moved. I saw a fish move and splashed my fly on the water approximately were his head should be. This sparked an instant reaction and the fish tried to grab my fly line about 5m away from me, I stripped my line in and casted again, the fish came up again frantically searching the surface for this tasty morsel. After about the sixth attempt he managed to find the fly. I lifted the rod and the fight was on. Initially he ran hard and fast for the deeper water, I had to steer him clear of a fence pole in the water. I was sure that he knew exactly where the pole was, as he kept on trying to wrap himself around it. This to and fro carried on for about 30min. He was testing my 8kg IGFA rated tippet and 8/9 weight STEALTH to the maximum. I had already tightened the drag on my Genesis reel as much as I could without pulling the hook out; at this stage I was not sure who was more tired.

I decided to put more pressure on the fish to steer him clear from constantly going under the grass in the water, if he persisted he would dislodge the hook. I pulled on the rod, I heard a strange sound, a crackling sound, the fibres of my rod were starting to split down the length of the rod. I quickly grabbed the rod above the crack, holding the top section of my rod in both hands, the fish pulled and I pulled and the fish pulled - I was running out of time, if this fish had to run he would definitely be the victor, I pointed the rod tip straight at the fish. At this point it would be up to my double x tippet and the knot I tighed to my Fairplay line, at least I had some faith that my fly BBB (BABICH BARBLE BUGGER) on a no 2 streamer hook would hold. I would have to straight line this fish for about 6 m to reach the bank, if he turned that would be the end, so I put an even more pressure on the line and pulled, trying not to let the fish turn. I had to pull the fish out of the water because there would be no second chance to grab the catfish, if I did not secure him the fist time. Luck was on my side I lip landed him. first time!

It was awesome that my line of 17.6lb (8kg) and my knots would hold a fish of 39.83lb (18.105kg). It is unfortunate that my rod broke but it has caught more than 485 catfish and many carp so I guess it has done more than a lifetime worth of fishing. Thanks to Tatlow & Pledger who kindly donated my IGFA rated double x line two days before. I have sent this catch off to IGFA for ratification as an 8kg line class fly fishing world record.

The fishing goes on I didn't stop fishing until 2 a.m the following morning landing another 12 fish before retiring for some sleep. Needless to say I was back behind the rod by 5 a.m, "fishing is an addiction of the sweetest type"

Tight loops Terry Babich

e-mail : terryb@fishingowl.co.za