Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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SEA FISHING

For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over four years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

05 December 2005

Belize - in the beginning!

We're back! Ignoring the flights, car journeys etc. it took us to get there, we arrived fit and well - if slightly jet lagged in Placencia where we were to spend our first week of the Belize trip. The self-catering accommodation was amazing. Our balcony overhung a private 'dock' and the huge mangrove-fringed lagoon opening to the Caribbean was literally on our doorstep. A five minute walk away were the many miles of beautiful beach fringing the shores of the Caribbean - wonderful for swimming and sunbathing. On the evening we arrived I spent a little time spinning from the decking and landed a small barracuda that took my Maria Chase plug - good start!

The downstairs apartment of the house belonged to Arthur and Nicky and their children. Arthur is a fishing guide with his own boat and takes anglers to fish on the ocean and the numerous flats and reefs that lie offshore. While we were there he returned from trips on which he had caught kingfish, tuna, jacks and a number of other species. However, this week we had come to explore the shore fishing so we did not go out in Arthur's boat - as it turned out we should have done! Despite all our efforts from the beaches and shores of the lagoon from the crack of dawn to dusk the shore fishing was slow. We landed small barracuda, lizard fish, jacks and snappers on our lures but nothing of any size. There were quite a few locals fishing with bait and handlines for snappers. They were catching plenty of small fish and one chap had a decent tarpon on a line set overnight but that was the best fish we heard of. To be honest the lagoon looks as though it should be 'tarpon paradise' but while we were there they were almost non existent.

We had noticed lots of mullet in the dock and plenty of small stuff swimming round the pilings. On the second day, after breakfast, I decided to see if I could induce them to feed. The only convenient 'fish food' I could find in the fridge was sliced bread so I took a couple of slices and went down onto the staging. I chewed a mouthful of bread and spat it into the sea. Within seconds there were small fish pecking at the sinking crumbs and within minutes a whole range of species was taking my 'groundbait'. As I watched a couple of stripey sheepshead fish appeared, they were obviously interested in the bread and eventually I managed to get them taking floating crusts from the surface.

Steve's daughter Hayley is a keen 'handliner' so she tied a small hook to a spool of eight - pound nylon and set about trying to see what she could catch. The bait of course was bread. Hayley's first fish, a small snapper, came within seconds of starting and after that it was a continuous succesion of bites. It was a matchman's dream. Fish after colourful fish took the bread baits and was photographed and released. Most were small (up to about half-a-pound) but a cracking sheepshead almost pulled the line from her fingers and another decent fish tore away into deeper water before coming unstuck. It was nonstop action and I'm sure if we had bothered to rig up light leger or float gear on one of the rods we could have had wonderful sport and perhaps caught some larger fish.

Our week at Placencia was wonderful with any amount of sun, sand and sea. There seemed to be loads of snappers, small jacks and even smaller barracuda. We saw plenty of pelicans, ospreys, manatees and dolphins and we ate in a variety of colourful and attractive local hostelries. More about the fishing next time.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com

'Our house'

I crossed over the inlet to take this picture.  Hayley's fish were caught from the landing stage.

Gray snapper.

One of the first 'bread caught' fish.  They grow to over two feet (60cm) long.

Lane snapper.

A smaller but more colourful species.

Yellowfin mojarra.

These little fish were pretty common catches on the bread bait.

Mutton snapper.

Mutton snappers are very popular food fish.  This attracive variety is common throughout much of the Caribbean and big ones provide good sport.

Sheepshead.

Jees! This didn't half pull on the little handline.  We feel that, had we tried, the sport to be had on light leger gear could have been very good - with the possibility of everything from stingrays to jewfish.