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 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).

31 May 2007

Holiday snaps 2 - bonefish.

One of our target species on the recent holiday in the Caribbean was bonefish. These fish are always a disappointment in the sense that if and when they eventually come into sight after an (usually) epic battle they are invariably much, much smaller than you thought they would be. The biggest one we landed on our recent trip was (measured against the rod) 65cm which I reckon is about nine pounds (although it was also very fat and could have been more) - certainly the largest I have caught up to now. The others were in the four to six pound class - about average for the place and tactics that we were employing.

Since we landed our first bonefish on a plug (a small Rapala) years ago the technique has been refined a bit. It appears that contrary to much of the literature on the subject 'the fly' is by no means the only way to catch them. In fact bonefish feed heavily on small baitfish and are very susceptible to imitations of the same. A little 'Angel Kiss' plug seems to be an excellent lure and with care can be fished over even the shallowest grass beds. A short length of fifteen-pound knottable wire gives protection against (small) barracuda and other toothy predators without deterring the bonefish.

We also had a salutary lesson during our bonefishing sessions. I'd just beached a decent fish and Steve took his pliers to unhook it. Of course bonefish don't bite and he has unhooked thousands of fish in his time, so he was reasonably confident about approaching the fish. However, he had forgotten that my lure still had a mid-body treble (Steve had removed the mid-body hook from his own plug) and, to cut a long story short, the fish kicked and pulled the hook into his thumb. The hook was at such an angle that we were unable to push it through so we had to go to the hospital for it to be cut out. Although the doctors frequently have to remove fish hooks from hands, this hook (an Owner Stinger) was too hard to be chopped off and required a spot of surgery. You may remember that a tarpon did the same thing to me last year - you'd think that at our ages we would know better.

If you haven't signed the bass petition yet, please go to Saltwater page 168 and do it now.

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

Gloom.

Spinning for bonefish at dawn - the haze is partly due to bush fires.

Bonefish.

My first bonefish of the trip almost ready to be unhooked.

I'm in!

A good bonefish hooked in the margin powers away on yet another run - amazing!

What a fish!

The streamlined shape, big forked tail and narrow wrist show where the astonishing power of these fish comes from.

Anal fin.

Steve took this close up of the wonderful irridescence on the anal fin of my fish.

Standard shot.

We have to take the odd picture of angler with fish.

Back it goes.

Bonefish often need a bit of a nurse after their titanic struggles.

Ouch.

Never again! Longer pliers and more care next time.

Bedraggled.

Tobago is mostly rain forest and despite the recent drought we had to take (futile) shelter on occasion.