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).

29 January 2008

Antigua 1.

We're back from the Caribbean. First the bad news. We had one day of heavy rain and another morning when it p***** down and stopped me getting out at first light. I saw virtually no fishing birds (one pelican on the beach where we stayed that fished by jumping from the beach into the surf) and very little in the way of baitfish (small shoals in one corner of the 'pelican beach'). However, all was not lost and I did manage to catch some fish.

Our hotel was at a place called 'Hawksbill', where a big, turtle shaped, rock stuck out of the sea. There were four good sandy beaches and just offshore (easy casting range) plenty of rock and coral so it looked extremely promising. In one corner of the beach was a little concrete jetty and around it was the only area where I saw baitfish. This convinced me that if there was going to be any predator action this would be the spot.

So, what was the outcome? It was clear that there were lots of reef fish in the vicinity of the jetty - I could see them. Primarily these consisted of huge shoals of stripey sergeant majors with smaller numbers of damsels, slippery dicks, basslets, puffers, parrot fish and snappers. By crumbling a few bits of bread roll into the sea it was possible to induce a 'feeding frenzy' of these species. By far the biggest members of the mixed shoals were grey snappers of up to three or four pounds but - to be honest - I had no heart for catching them. They provided hours of amusement for all the visitors to the hotel and it would have been like shooting ducks in a barrel.

Of course I was hoping for larger fish and I couldn't help fishing from the jetty so I tried both spinning (one sand diver) and fly fishing (small jacks, Atlantic bumper(new to me), mutton snapper). It was great fun but apart from losing a needle fish and a couple of 'unknown pluckers' on the fly I had nothing of any size.

The most interesting thing, for me, was the presence of a shoal of ballyhoo (halfbeaks) which I had never seen before. These fish swam at the surface in bright sunshine and they fed readily on bits of bread. I just had to have a look at one. Out came the small, barbless hook and the bit of bread and second chuck I was in. The fish grabbed bits of bread between the base of the beak and the upper lip and after swimming along with it in their mouths for a little while they swallowed it. Simple! What the hell do they use the 'half beak' for? Does anyone know?

Just one last thing. On my last morning I had to pack the tackle and send it off to the airport to be checked in. After it had gone we spent a little while 'chilling out' on the beach by the jetty until it was time to leave. Just after lunch, with the sun blazing down from a cloudless sky I noticed a splash near the water's edge and within minutes there was a full scale 'blitz' of jacks (up to about five pounds) driving the baitfish onto the shore. What a downer. If I'd had the fly rod the sport would have been fantastic - that's fishing! I also fished the beaches and the rocks while I was away but more of that next time.

The jetty.

Only a minute or two from my door and alive with small fish.

Feeding frenzy.

The participants were mostly sergeant majors.

Too easy.

bread is almost a universal bait and decent sized snappers took it 'off the top'.

Mutton snapper.

To be honest it's a pleasure to catch colourful specimens like this little chap.

Jack.

Not quite what I'd hoped for but lively on the fly gear.

Ballyhoo.

A shoal of 'halfbeaks' at the surface.

Got one!

this one took a bit of bread crust off the top.

Strange or what?

I just can't imagine what use that lower jaw, full of teeth, is.

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