The son of big carp expert, Rocket Ron Buss, is sat in pole position to set the world of fishing on fire after guiding the largest haul of specimen catfish to date including a new Spanish record. Stephens catch records for 2004 were unrivalled, many hailed him as the most successful guide on the Ebro, this year is no exception, moving up a gear, accounting for more than 161 catfish over 100lb, 56 over 150lb, 21 over 175lb & the new record of 212lb under his belt. He has also caught & guided nearly 20 albinos with more than a dozen going over the 100lb mark & has a fishing picture gallery to rival the Tate. Having had the first six month of this year for personal fishing where he has put his ideas into practice, Stephen's first two weeks guiding are just a brief insight into his ability, putting catfish on the bank to a total weight of 8471lb (3850kg), a total of 1815lb (825kg) of pellet was used to achieve this staggering haul of big fish. We have the inside story on the records he has broken, the record fish, & why his contentious methods of fishing will create a new culture & testimony amongst fishermen as they prove to be the most productive & most effective to date. It all started on Thursday 30th June when Duncan Rooke & Brian Dunlop from Woking District Angling Association in Surrey landed on the scorching tarmac at Barcelona airport, successfully managing peoples expectations is an envious quality, Duncan wanted a catfish over 100lb, & all Brian wanted was an Albino! From an evening session on Thursday the 30th June to an hour before twelve bells on the night of Wednesday 6th July, Stephen had guided Duncan Rooke, Brian Dunlop from Surrey & David Moore from Weymouth to no less than 49 catfish of which 22 were over 100lb, 2 were albinos both over 125lb, 6 fish broke the 150lb barrier & 2 exceeded 185lb with the biggest & best fish being saved till last & setting the new Spanish record at 212lb. The total weight of catfish caught on this record breaking week was 5146lb(2339kg) making the average weight of each catfish caught 105lb. 990lb (450kg) of swim feed was used over this timeframe & disputes the recent rumors that catfish spook off of big beds of pellet. [break] Unlike the previous record of 209 that was kept on a stringer for more than 20 hours, the new record was kept for less than six & was photographed at first light, it was still docile from its epic battle & some excellent water shots were obtained. Duncan & Brian booked last November for the opening CarpandCatBussters.com Cat Fishing Adventure of 2005, an adventure that ended up exceeding all expectations. Within two hours of touching down at Barcelona they were all sat on the banks of the River, the swim sat snug between two large beds of thick bamboo that stretched 10 meters out into the river. The opposite bank is easily 400 yards away & from reed lined margin to weed lined margin two old riverbeds were the swims main feature in addition to several medium size beds of thick weed to the left & a deep bowl to the right at about 20 yards. The summer days are long & hot, fishing in the heat of the day can be very slow & a torturous affair for us fair skinned Brits. The evenings are cooler & gave ample opportunity for Duncan & Brian to familiarise with the Rods, Reels & the tactics involved in achieving their quarry, they were to alternate fish on the bank as opposed to takes, so as both would go home with roughly the same amount of fish each for the week. Both Duncan & Brian had caught catfish from Sandersons, a beautiful lake that is covered by WDAA membership that is home to 50lb+ catfish, both held personal bests of just over 30lb but had never used cork handled 7lb test curve Empire Catfish rods, let alone seen a bank of six with the tips some 20foot above the ground, nor Penn 330 right hand level wind multiplier reels that held 300 yards of 140lb kite line, running three pound breakaway weights to hold bottom in the flow of the main river & size 8/0 Catbusster Continental Pellet Hooks. "There are numerous advantages of fishing with large round pebbles secured to a running clip swivel by rubber band. I have learned that one pound of lead fixed to the line either semi or running by the same clip swivel has detrimental effects to hook holds, the lead bounces around loosens & even pops hooks out of turning fish & results in mouth damage. Not only that they get snagged & tend to lead the fishes head down towards the river bottom. When a pebble rolls out of a band a direct line is obtained & usually results in playing the fish in the upper levels of the water giving you better control, increased rod tip sensitivity & quicker response times when playing fast turning & long, fast running fish as well as having better direction on the fish if fishing near snags. When fishing mud flats over long sessions, new environments are created in the form of small bars & mounds of pebbles if you are good at placing baits on the same spots in the main flow of the river consistently. These in are then frequented & commandeered in time as home by crayfish, patrolled by the carp & acts as a dinner plate for the catfish. When baited regularly, these features will provide the edge on fishing the barren mud flanks of flooded valley. This is also a cost effective way of presenting baits in the main flow as loops of pellet anchored can move & twist emitting signals similar to that of an anchored eel" [break] However, between 22:00 & midnight on the first evenings fishing, several takes were missed & one fish lost whilst getting used to the upgraded tackle, but at 23:55 Brian gently set the barb into a hard fighting 2m 2cm, 113lb new personal best, what a start to his fishing adventure. The following day only the morning session was fished, a bait presented on the far river bed produced Duncan's new personal best of 94lb & an hour later, just before midday, a rod on a similar line saw Brian in the water for photos of a 2m 24cm 143lber. The river conditions then changed overnight & as expected a slow days fishing ensued, four fish graced Saturday's bank. Duncan took the first fish, being 83lb & then Brian teased in a 35lber to end a slow morning. As the evening drew the river conditions settled, on sound advice a 25kg sack of 22mm drilled Halibut pellet was evenly distributed over 2 features as free offerings. 28mm drilled pellet know as "Monster Munchies" were used as hook baits, as they take longer to break down than the smaller drilled pellet which in time acts as a dusty carpet of food from which large areas of activity are obtained. It is these areas of activity that compel the bigger catfish to investigate further. Two fish were banked late in the session; Duncan upped his best to an impressive 2m 25cm fish that weighed170lb & Brian shortly followed with a rare but distinctive 128lb ¾ albino, just 1 cm less in length than Duncan's 170. Sunday saw a new face in the form of David Moore, a pike & catfish angler from Weymouth. Dave had jumped on a plane with some tackle (that got lost), hired an over priced car, which was to be his house & home for a week & bought a road map from a petrol station on the outskirts of Barcelona on the strength of reading an article about the cat fishing potential of Spain. Dave had witnesed & played apart in the previous evening's events & was conscious that the tackle he had brought was not suffice to experience the venues potential & the logistics of him fishing successfully without help were honestly impossible. Dave had a renewed air of enthusiasm & excitement when two rods & a pair braided reels were borrowed, Stephen offered to place his baits, glove his fish & enlighten to some first class guiding skills. After spending the night on a bed chair as opposed to the car, Dave took the first fish of the morning, a fish that shattered his previous best, the cameras clicked away & Dave sat proud in the margins with a 2m 30cm, 140lb specimen. [break] The river conditions were calm late afternoon & a further 50kg of swim feed was introduced before the evening session commenced. A minimum of 3kg of pellet accompanied each hook bait placed that evening & resulted in 10 fish to the weeks tally. The evening started early with lots of carp jumping & rolling with the odd explosion of water from the catfish as they were moving in, on & over the baited areas. Six fish between 85 & 95lb were gloved before 22:00. The hours of 22:00 to midnight is considered to be the best time window for fishing & in these two hours four fish over 100lb were gloved, 2 were over 150, Duncan smiled at his 2m 31cm 152 lber Dave's eyes nearly popped out with his 2m 37cm 188lber & Brian caught a full albino that went 2m 29cm 132lb & a 2m 25cm 124lber. Twelve catfish were caught on Sunday; the total weight was a respectable 1279lb. Dawn rose on Monday, the order of the day was rest, the previous evenings events coupled with lack of sleep due to excitement, was taking toll. A two hour morning session saw Duncan's eyes open to two fish of 85lb & 102lb, Brain had an 86 & Dave had two hours extra sleep. Duncan & Brian opted for an extended siesta & awoke at midnight back at the apartment; Dave managed 3 fish, 2 of which were over 100lb with the best going 2m 30cm 153lb. Tuesday produced 14 fish for 1203lb, 6 went over 100lb, Duncan had the pick of the best with a 2m 30cm 132lber. As the rods were wound in at midnight, the last days fishing loomed, the finale was but a short eyelid session away. Wednesday morning was interrupted by the usual 05:30 alarm call; hooks were re-sharpened & baited as well as 8 buckets of pellet, all arranged, ready to set sail. Most of the weeks action had come from baits rowed out & placed mid river. The morning water level was low & intuition said they would be in for a good evening's fishing. Four fish glistened in the morning sunshine, the biggest going to Brian & was 115lb. Midday saw the baits wound in until the evening, as the rising water levels pushed big banks of weed down river. The last evening's fishing was upon them, Stephen had seen several fish over the course of the day on the inside margin & insisted in placing several baits in close, a full 5kg bucket of pellet accompanied each hook bait, by 19:00 the rods were set & the swim was awash with much needed shade. Thirty minutes had passed, Brian was into a fish it was 35lb! All stood & laughed as it lay on the mat, they mused as to the comparisons of the bigger fish that had graced their presence previously. The fish was carefully returned; the hook re-baited & rowed back to its mark with a further 5kg bucket of swim feed. Two hours then passed before Brian hooked his biggest fish of his week, a mint condition, hard fighting 2m 32cm 163lber that had obviously never seen a hook before. Brian was over the moon, the light was sufficed & they feasted on photographing Brian with his new personal best. [break] Darkness was then upon them for the last time & the starlight's wedged through the top eyes glowed bright against the star clad night sky. Many an evening, they were treated to some fantastic light shows, as the catfish took line at a rate of knots; the starlight's would melt under the heat of friction as the line stripped from the reel, coating sporadically the mainline into what they saw as "Tracer Fire". At 22:30 Duncan stood behind number six rod, it was bent flat, the isotope had burned through instantly as the margin rod ripped off & tracer fire was soon disappearing out into the river, the three pound stone attached by rubber band to a running clip peeled off in an instant & a direct line to the fish as with all the previous captures was obtained. As the fish took line, Duncan struggled with many a foothold; the fish was head down with the flow of the river & at one point nearly took Duncan waterskiing. As Stephen pulled Duncan from the edge of the river having been stubbornly dragged several meters in tandem, he noticed a take on one of the long rods placed to the left hand side of the swim. Brian was quickly into another fish (22:35), a small one; 13lb bless it & was returned as quickly as it was played in. At this point Duncan's Margin Monster was plodding worryingly out of sight down river, tracer fire was now spitting through the bed of bamboo to the left & Stephen stepped into the row boat with the intention of trying to turn it back up river. "The tracer fire was fantastic & enabled me to get to the line of the fish quickly. I could see Duncan clutching for dear life, he then shouted the line had gone to the reel knot. On hearing this I let go of both oars & wrapped the line around my arm & then the boat, either the fish would turn or Duncan would go swimming. Fortunately the fish stopped, it had gone under & some 75 yards past the rods of an English Guide, who had moved in on the action down river from our swim. Unfortunately he blanked this evening but was fortunate enough to witness the weighing. As I steered the fish round & towards me, I started to row out into the river, I wanted the fish to come in straight, to the middle of the swim for gloving. I got close to the fish whilst out in the boat, not quite over the top but near as, at one point the water convulsed at the side of the boat in such away that the hairs all over my body stood up like knitting needles. As Duncan took up the slack ready to make contact, the fish was now easily 100 yards off the bank, I was confident the fish was out far enough & moving steadily up river so I let the line go with a twang as I could see Brian bending into another fish & rowed back to the bank with haste to don a sense of calm amongst the bank side mayhem" At 22:45 Brian's rod was now bent double, for a moment all was calm, both Duncan & Brian looked at each other with cheesy grins. Duncan's fish continued moving up river, whilst Brian managed to turn his & was winding in at a gentle pace. Stephen was now thigh deep in the water ready for the first fish. [break] It was not Brian's or Duncan's fish to be gloved first, it was Dave's & it went 56lb. The second margin rod had dropped back (22:50) leaving Dave at hand to guide her gently into the margin. Brian's fish was next on the bank & went exactly 100lb, with two fish on the bank & one still plodding up river both were returned without fuss on Stephen's advice. Redundant rods were collated, the swim was cleared, 6 buckets of water awaited whatever was on the end of Duncan's line as did the weigh bar & scales. The fish was about 125 yards up river when it turned & finally headed towards the swim. Duncan guided the margin monster through a bed of thin weed to the left of the swim & it lay on the surface in all its glory for a split second before sinking to the marginal depths right in front of all that looked on. "Duncan looked ruined after 30 odd heart stopping minutes behind a screaming reel that literally glowed in his hands, on seeing the size of the fish; I thought it only fair if he gloved his new personal best himself. When I first suggested this to Duncan he looked at me as if I were crazy, after a quick confidence boost Duncan passed me the rod as he placed a glove on his hand & moved out into the margin to claim his prize. I was confident in Duncan's ability; he is a good listener & had already gloved fish to just over 100lb during the holiday. The rigs work in away that all fish are hooked in the large, tough, fleshy bulbs either side of the mouth, I was deep in the knowledge that the fish would not drop off in mine nor anyone else's charge & passed it on to Brian to hold as I thought it right to join Duncan in the river to secure the fish by stringer. The mouth of the fish was deceptively small & Duncan slipped his hand into the opposite side of the mouth to where the fish was hooked. Catfish are always reluctant in coming in, the fish snapped & clamped onto his hand & attempted to crocodile death roll Duncan into the river whilst swimming backwards in a series of watery explosions. Duncan is a strong lad he regained composure & charge whilst I opened the under side of a gill to secure a stringer. The hook was gently popped out under the minimum of pressure, the hooks we use in my opinion are the best for pellet fishing for big catfish, they are short shanked, wide gaped, they do not rip mouths & are not chemically sharpened so you can sharpen by stone down to the barb if need be" With the fish secure, all that remained was lifting it up onto the bank. The initial attempt nearly resulted in double hernias as both Stephen & Duncan looked at each other in silence. The fish took five fit, good looking young men, fresh from the fight, all red faced, grunting & spitting in unison to get the fish up & onto the weight station. For a split second all stood in total ore of what lay before them, only by standing back could you appreciate the size of what obviously would beat Duncan's previous best of 170lb. [break] The landing party all took a deep breath & went about trying to put the fish into the weigh sling. Deep down all concerned knew this to be a very special fish as it was longer than the weigh sling & stood shoulders taller than the carry straps. With the fish just about in the sling the weigh bar was lifted & the fish swung off the floor, Dave spotted the scales first time & hailed 215lb! The fish was lowered; Catfish Conservation Group member Duncan Rooke's legs then turned to Jelly, Brian sparked up a cigarette & Stephen stood in disbelief ordering the fish out of the sling for a re-weigh. Some pellet was removed that had been coughed up during the first weighing, the sling was washed out & the scales re-zeroed. Things were starting to sink in as the second weigh in resulted in 213lb as all realised the Record fish was at their feet, the bar was lifted for a third time & all witnessed the 213lb reading. At this point all started raving & proceed to dance a ring a ring of roses around the fish before Duncan did a lap of the swim in Stephen's arms. A witness was required to verify the weight & all fell silent as Stephen's phone rang out loud. It was the Owner of Catfish Concept, who agreed to verify the weight & reweigh the fish on a different set of scales. The fish was put back into the river & an hour soon passed before a set of headlights could be seen in the dark. Dean Kenney was bursting with excitement as he leaped out the car "new record then" he said with an honest smile. The fish was re-spotted on two sets of scales that both read 212lb this reading was recorded & all agreed the new record stands at 212lb. "Burping Catfish, when catfish are out of the water they take air into their stomachs. It is life threatening to the cat if this volume of air is retained for any length of time. When hooked they will often fight until they have little to no energy & when released after a photo session cannot evict the air taken in whilst they have been out of the water. If you sit with them when returning & gently rub their stomachs you will soon see large plumes of bubbles escaping from the gills, if the fish is upright & kicks to go off, she is ready, if she sits & goes side up then she needs some more burping" Duncan ended up with 15 fish for the week, six were over 100lb, two were over 150lb & he set a new Spanish record of 212lb for a total weight of 1484lb making the average fish weight 98lb. Brian took 20 fish for his holiday, nine broke the 100lb barrier & went home with a personal best of 163lb, he had two albinos which was enough to make anyone's holiday let alone the total weight of 1758lb of catfish for his week in turn setting his average fish weight at 88lb. After a photo session at first light it was back to the apartment to retain possessions, Duncan & Brian, were soon sat in a terminal coffee shop at Barcelona Airport, face to face with fellow W.D.A.A members Ian & Luke Cooper who were to fish with Stephen in the aftermath of the record. Brian was in high spirits & set about the freshly printed catch report for his week, Duncan sat back nodding with a disbelieving smile, Stephen waited in the queue for drinks. It wasn't until that all were sat together that an air of anticipation had taken all but Duncan, the cat was out of the bag when Duncan chortled "I caught the new Spanish Record" Ian starred up at the ceiling & let out an elongated "coooor" his son Luke tried to break his stare as Stephen could hear the river calling. [break] The evening of Thursday 7th July produced six fish from the same swim that the record fish was claimed. Ian opened his account with a 58lber & a double take saw father & son playing catfish together on their first evening, unfortunately Luke's take ended up being a pinged pebble due to a liner & Ian guided in a new personal best of 85lb. The next four fish went to Dave on his last evenings fishing as his flight departed early Friday morning. Dave banked two 85lbers, one spot on 100lb the other went 142lb, which brought Dave's total to 18 fish for the week for a total weight of 1871lb with an average fish weight of 104lb. Friday saw the first full day of fishing, the 10 fish banked totaled 946lb, with both Father & son achieving new personal bests. First was Ian with a 2m 12cm 105lber, Luke stepped up & tamed a hard fighting 2m 34cm 180lber then Ian beat tickled a 154lber to the glove of the guide. Only the evening session on Saturday as the events from the previous day coupled with a bit of sunburn saw some extended morning shut eye, produced three fish, none were monsters with 82lb heading the trio of banked cats. The river conditions were starting to settle, the swim was baited heavily & a morning & evening session produced 1040lb of catfish. Four out of the nine fish caught on this day were to tip the scales over the 150lb, 1 of them passed 175lb & another exceeded 185lb. Luke got the ball rolling with a 2m 29cm 177lber which he then backed up with a 2m 14cm that weighed 150lb. Ian then sneaked a 2m 26cm 168lb personal best that was shortly followed by his biggest fish of the week being a 2m 44cm 188lber. Both Ian & Luke were over the moon, not much sleep was obtained as they watched for shooting stars & satellites whilst deliberating the events of the holiday so far. Monday morning saw just six hours fishing due to the weedy conditions of the river for one fish that Ian claimed, it went2m 10cm 105lb. The evening was spent watching huge rafts of weed floated past the swim from right to left on a line that would have seen all six rods wiped out. An early night ensued. Nine hours of fishing on Tuesday 12th July saw four fish for 367lb on the bank, the two biggest went to Ian & both & weighed exactly 115lb. Just 7 hours were fished on the last day, fatigue was setting in & a plane ride home loomed for both Ian & Luke. Five fish were banked for a total of 577lb, Luke had the pick of the crop with a 2m 24cm 128lber, he then had a 2m 38cm 138lber & capped off the evening with a respectable 2m 17cm 165lb specimen. Ian's tally of 18 fish for 1721lb put more than a smile on his face, he managed 7 fish over 100lb, three over 150lb with the biggest going 188lb. Luke ended up with 15 fish for 1542lb, six were over the 100lb mark & had 4 fish over 150lb & a new personal best of 180lb. 825lb (375 kg) of swim feed was used & resulted in 3263lb (1483kg) of catfish. [break] Stephen would like to personally thank Duncan, Brian, Dave, Ian & Luke for putting their faith in his charge, Abdul for making the bank side adventure in the heat somewhat bearable, Lenka for keeping law & order in the camp, & last but not least, The Catfish Concept Crew who verified the weights & took some pukka pictures, good luck to you guys in 2006, I would be proud to return the favor. This former top research scientist for several of the largest blue chip companies in the world has now set his sights on a new career in fishing & has hit the ground running. Owing much to his father's patients, guile & the fact that fishing runs through his blood, Stephen is set to continue breaking records & catching fish of monstrous proportions wherever he lays his rods. He is currently looking for new sponsor's, is in the process of writing a book on his fishing adventures, with guest chapters & is intent on creating a new age promotional DVD about Carp & Catbussters & we wish him the very best of luck, fame & fortune.