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).

28 August 2007

I'm away on a fishing holiday next week so this may be the last page for a little while - cheers, Mike

I knew it.

As anyone who's been looking at my saltwater diary for a year or so will know I caught bass of 6.5 and 11.5lb on mackerel livebaits last Autumn. The fish were taken from a spot where we catch hundreds of small bass on lures and flies so I was really pleased to get a couple of decent fish. I was pretty certain that the two big fish were not just 'flukes' but I decided to try and prove the point by a concerted livebaiting effort this year. Of course I'd no idea whether the bigger fish might be there all season or not so I started early on and every trip or two I spent half-an-hour or so swimming a live mackerel about on a 6/0 circle hook. Up to now I've not had so much as a sniff and often I've had to watch my pals hauling out bass, pollack and mackerel on plugs and flies while I stood holding the bait rod. Needless to say all the bass caught on lures and flies were the usual size, mostly up to a couple of pounds with the odd one a bit bigger.

Last week I went down one morning with my pals Steve Hill and Nigel Bevis. We started fishing at first light and the lads soon had a few mackerel and small bass. As usual I put the first mackerel on for bait and set it away to search for a predator. Both Steve and Nigel tried the same tactic and for perhaps twenty minutes we were (as always) biteless, then, suddenly my line tightened and began to peel off the spool with a much steadier and more powerful pull than that of the mackerel bait. I called out that I had a bite and the other watched as the line poured out - ten, twenty, thirty metres - time to tighten up??? I flicked the bale arm over and let the fish pull the line tight before slowly raising the rod. The tension increased and I was into a fish. For the next couple of minutes the bass surged away and occasionally boiled on the surface with powerful sweeps of its tail - wonderful stuff. Eventually I was able to slide my fish ashore. It weighed five-and-a-half pounds, no monster but again MUCH bigger than the average fish.

So there it is. At last, the proof that I needed of the selective nature of mackerel livebaits for bass. The score is now - on lures - hundreds of fish averaging probably less than two pounds with nothing bigger than four - on live mackerel - three fish averaging just under eight pounds, the smallest five-and-a half. Are you convinced? I am.

Of course the interesting question is WHY? Why, for example, don't we catch the bigger fish on the plugs and poppers? I KNOW that they will take these artificials because over the years my friends and I have caught lots of big bass on exactly the same sort of lures that we are using. It MUST be something to do with the mackerel livebaits but what? They are much bigger than most lures, they are very active and cover the water as well as any lure giving off the ultimate vibration and flash, they look exactly like a real fish in distress(because they are real fish in distress!!) and they probably smell of mackerel. In view of my experience with pike I think that the SIZE factor may be the key to it all.

Anyway, just to finish another little puzzle. I know that the fish (e.g. mackerel) 'go off' after the sun comes up. I'd always sort of assumed that they moved out of range of my shore mark. However, at the end of my session I threw in a few mackerel cuttings and watched what happened. To my amazement within a few seconds a shoal of mackerel appeared swimming in and around the cuttings and totally ignored them!!!!! What was that about?????

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 -

Hard evidence.

This five pounder had no trouble engulfing a fair sized mackerel - was I pleased?

Close up.

A bit on the thin side.  with a decent meal inside it I might have had a six pounder.