Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

Information Page


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 several 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. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. 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).

22 May 2006

Popping problems.

On my second trip of the year to a favourite rocky promontary I found that it was almost low water. The tide was still running off so there was a decent race past the end of the rocks but bits of kelp were already showing above the surface. I had previously decided to give the TD popper another try and it proved to be a good decision - at least from the point of view of avoiding the snags. In all I cast and retrieved for about an hour and landed two fish. In that time the lure only folded back on the line twice - pretty good in my book.

All popping lures are inclined to flip back and tangle the line in the trebles from time to time. Some are worse than others and often it needs a little bit of practice to avoid the problem. There are few things more annoying than when a decent cast is wasted because the lure has fouled up. Over the past week I've had several emails mentioning this problem so perhaps a word or two is in order. This problem is not unique to poppers but it happens more often with them because of the jerky nature of the retrieve with the line repeatedly slackening and tightening.

The first thing to say is that the metre or so of nylon on the end of my braid has a real benefit in making fouled lures easy to untangle. At least there is no chance of a hook point going through (and damaging) the braid. So, how do you avoid fouled lures? A smooth cast is a big help. If you always have a nice easy cast with a tidy follow through the chances of any lure flipping back on the line, at this stage, is minimal. I find that the problem occurs when I'm forcing things and trying for that extra yard or so to reach fish or fishy spots. More often poppers foul up while you are retrieving them and there are a number of things you can do to avoid this. Firstly, let the line settle on the water before you start to pop. This avoids that first twitch flicking the line round the front treble. Keep the rod tip low so that a good length of the line 'sticks' to the water. Make your jerks of the rod/lure short so that the popper doesn't come unstuck as it slides forward. try not to pop when the lure is on top of a swell or a breaker. It's much better to do it when the lure is in a trough, again this avoids the lure flipping into the air. If you do all these things you should minimise the problem. Anyway, enough of this technical crap - what about the fishing?

For the first twenty minutes of my session I was fishing in a really fast tide without a sniff. Suddenly I felt a sort of pluck (Isn't braid wonderful?) at distance. Nothing! However, a few seconds later I felt another similar pluck and I was into a fish. Having said that, even in the fast flow it did not feel like much of a fish, just a few kicks as I wound in. It turned out that I'd caught a garfish - quite a rare event on poppers in my experience.

Anyway, I was encouraged. By the time I'd taken a couple of pictures and put the fish back the tide was easing off. I fanned my casts out over both sides of the ledge and it was perhaps ten minutes before I had my second bite. By now it was dead slack water and the bite was much more typical of the type you get on popped lures. It was between pops and the lure was laying dead on the surface when suddenly there was a splashy boil and a weight on the end of the line. the fish was well hooked and sheared about from right to left as it battled. It was no match for the gear and I soon had it on the shore. I went back for the camera and took a couple of shots before returning the bass. although I fished on for another twenty minutes I had no more bites - next time perhaps?

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 -

Gar on the popper.

I had one tentative knock on the popper a few seconds before hooking this garfish.  The red feathery algae are only exposed at low tide.

A bit on the big side?.

That beak and the fine needle-like teeth just aren't made for grabbing big lures.


This was my second bass bite since starting to use this lure - both were firmly hooked.