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).

16 January 2008

When I was a lad!

I'm about to go on holiday to Antigua (and it's still pouring with rain and blowing a gale here) so I thought I'd do a little philosophical piece to tide the site over until I get back.

My pal Alan sent me a couple of pictures of himself with fish he caught as a child in New Zealand and it got me thinking about my own introduction to the sport. He was six when he caught the eels on worm baits and the biggest is probably near ten pounds. He was twelve when he speared the flounder. I dug out a few pictures of me in my younger days to match them.

Why do we go fishing? It's not everyones cup of tea after all. My own opinion is that it's more nature than nurture. In other words proper anglers are born not made. I have four sons who were all given the same introduction to fishing. They are all now grown up with their own families and I'm sure that all four would still go and enjoy a day out at the coast or river but only the third one, Richard, is an angler. He has his own gear and like me goes fishing whenever he gets the chance.

For my own part I was 'hooked' as a youngster, when I landed my first stickleback on a bit of thread and a worm discarded by someone else (Sadly, I dont have a picture of that!). Since then my consuming interest has been in fish and fishing. When I was a kid I used to go on family holidays to Castletown in the Isle of Man. Me and my pal Jack fished with cane poles, crude centrepin reels and thick flax lines. We dug lugworm from the sandy harbour or ragworm from the stony mud to use as bait and we fished from the two stone piers. My parents made us sit with feet either side of bollards to reduce the risk of us falling into the sea as we fished. Most of the catches were wrasse or flounders. Occasionally, as a special treat, we were taken to the rocks at Langness where wrasse and pollack were the catch.

In my teens I fished with another pal, Bob, on the coast of Northumberland. Most of our catch consisted of flounders and coalfish and we became very skillful at this type of fishing. When I was eighteen I had my first holiday abroad. I went on my own to Denmark with a tour company called, if I remember rightly, 'Angling Holidays'. The first week was to be a competition fishing from boats in the Baltic and the second week was on my own fishing the Danish lakes at Ny Hattenaes near Silkeborg.

The boat fishing competition was bit of a farce and put me off competitions for life. I'd never done any fishing of that type before so I wrote to a tackle company called 'Milbro' and asked what sort of gear I needed. As a result of their (bad) 'advice' I finished up with a six foot, glass fibre 'telegraph pole' and the biggest fixed spool reel I've ever seen. It made the modern Big Pit reels look like superlites. The reel was loaded with Searanger Terylene line, the very latest thing. To cut a long story short we began to fish with paternostered lugworm baits and I could scarcely feel bites, let alone hook them, because the kit was so crude and heavy. After a quick reassessment of the situation I laid the rod against the rail, took hold of the line in my hand, beyond the tip ring, and feeling the familiar tug, tug, promptly began to catch fish. After each cod was hooked by a swift jerk of the wrist I picked up the rod and reeled it in. It was so effective that in the first hour I'd landed sixteen cod, far more than anyone else. I was chuffed. However, it seemed that some other competitor had moaned about my tactics and that evening it was announced that "some competitors had been 'handlining' and would be disqualified for that day!" I was gutted. The following days (fishing through the rod and reel) were more of a struggle but, despite the deficiencies of the tackle, I was awarded the prize of a first class return ticket to Denmark for the following year.

To be honest the subsequent lake fishing made up for the match fishing unpleasantness. The lakes were stuffed with big bream and rudd and there were roach, perch, pike and even zander - fantastic! With my free ticket I went back, just to the lakes, for a month, the following year. Those were the days. I expect that every angler has memories of fish that they've caught in their early days and I can still picture the huge mackerel that I had from Seahouses pier on a tiny fibreglass wand; eight long runs it made before I could land it. I also remember my shock as a big pike tried to grab half a perch that I was retrieveing after a night's eel fishing. Many more such events have left clear pictures imprinted on my brain. Almost as good a a digital camera. Anyway, here are the nostalgic pictures.

They're what I call eels!

A young Alan with a couple of monster eels.  I spent a lot of time eel fishing when I was a lad.

A bit older.

Alan with a nice flounder.  Again, I used a table fork on a stick to spear flounders.

Nature or nurture?

Richard's my 'fishing son'. Some of my grandchildren may have the 'bug'.


My pal Jack and my great aunt Ruth.  She was a glutton for punishment.  The flattie was a real prize.  Note the rod and line.

Castletown again.

Ballan wrasse were our usual catches.  The dog used to go on holiday too.


One of my 'disqualified' cod.


Don't I look serious.  I've never had another one since.  What's with the trousers????

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