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).

I'll be away for a few days now so this is absolutely the last piece until I get back

30 August 2007

First fish on fly gear.

I'm not much of a fly caster. As far as I am concerned fly fishing is simply one way of getting a more or less weightless lure out to the fish. My casting was 'self taught' so I never got to grips with 'double hauling', 'shooting heads' and all the other niceties that expert fly anglers use to improve their distance and presentation skills. More often than not I just cast a few metres of floating fly line by a simple overhead cast or even by using a basic roll cast. This is not to say that I don't enjoy catching fish on fly gear because I do. I love to feel the tug of a taking fish on the fly line, I'm excited by the way the light rod bends to a fierce run and the sound of the screaming reel as a fish takes line - wonderful! No doubt that I'd also catch more fish if I was more competent in the technicalities of the technique but that's by the way.

On the other side of the coin I don't like the way that a few (by no means all) fly fishermen, particularly older died in the wool journalists, like to pretend that fly fishing is a. more difficult and b. vastly superior to spinning, bait fishing, etc. - of course it isn't. The basics of casting and catching fish on fly tackle can be learned in a matter of minutes. This week I had an excellent illustration of this fact.

My, ten year old, grandson Ben is a fishing fanatic. He loves going to the coast with me and he's caught lots of fish by bottom fishing, float fishing and spinning but he's never held a fly rod. The other day Ben came over to stay with us for the night and I asked him if he wanted to come with me the following morning and try to catch a fish on the fly. His answer was a guarded "yes," but he was obviously uncertain about his ability to crawl out of bed at four-thirty the nexty morning. Anyway, I took him out onto the back lawn with my 7wt fly rod and for a couple of minutes instructed him how to wave it back and forward so that a short line fell more or less straight out in front.

The following morning it was evident that Ben's fears about getting up were groundless. I opened his bedroom door, muttered "fishing!" and he was out of bed and downstairs like a shot. We arrived at the coast and walked down to the rocks just as the first light was appearing in the sky - perfect! I took Ben out onto a small promontary where he had water both in front of him and behind him so that there would be no problem with back casts. I held his rod hand while he had a couple of practice swishes and told him to lift the rod as slowly as possible after each cast (the little white rubber eel on the end wags even at the slowest speed of retrieve) and then I stood back and watched. He cast twice with no result and then, on the third attempt, he let out a shriek of excitement as the rod doubled over and line zipped off the reel. He hung on to the rod handle grimly and pumped his fish out of the kelp until I could see through the gloom a cracking pollack of about two pounds glistening at the surface.

We lifted the fish onto the rocks, admired it, unhooked it and released it - Ben was really chuffed and no longer cast longing eyes at the spinning gear propped against a rock. He was already waving the fly rod for another cast. To cut a long story short we fished for less than an hour altogether and he landed seven pollack, only two of them tiny ones. Inevitably he also missed quite a few takes. I had three mackerel on the spinning rod but this morning they did not come close enough for Ben's fly gear - next time perhaps. Anyway, that was his first ever attempt at fly fishing but I'm sure that it won't be the last.

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

Nice pollack Ben!

Not the biggest one he caught but by now it was light enough to take a reasonable picture.  As I pressed the shutter the fish kicked and was just slipping down from his grasp.