Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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21 June 2002

One of those weeks!

It is only too easy to get the impression that everyone but you is catching damned great fish. If you read the magazines you will see pictures of monster bass, pollack and conger held by the grinning captors. The features and articles invariably tell you how wonderful the latest gadget, rig or bait additive is. No one ever writes about failure. The truth is that most fishing trips are more or less unsuccessful (well mine are anyway!). The past week was a classic example.

On the Saturday, crack of dawn, I went spinning with Steve Pitts. It was a beautiful morning. We saw one decent bass swim past us in full view and another (probably a bass) 'boiled' at the surface. No bites. That evening the wind fell away to nothing. The following morning I got up at 03.30 thinking it would be calm again. It was blowing a gale and pouring with rain. I went anyway. On arrival at my chosen spot there were lots of good bass feeding almost at my feet. The fish were taking Idothea (marine woodlice). I had (stupidly) left the fly rod at home so I tried a plug - no bites! I tried a fly on the spinning rod - too difficult in the wind - no bites! I tried a bubble float, size 8 hook 15cm below it and a bunch of Idothea - no bites! I lengthened the trace to 60cm - one line bite and one fish hooked (?1.5Kg) and lost after ten second battle. I tried a plug again - one snatch under the rod tip - missed. I went home wet, windblown and wiser.

Two mornings later I was down at the Idothea spot again. This time it was calmer and the shoals of bass, if they were there, were no longer visible. However, there were quite a few mullet cruising and rolling at the surface. I plugged for a while with but had only one little tug on the second cast, and then switched to an Idothea imitation on the fly rod. A school bass took the fly and was landed but the mullet showed no interest. Later in the day I went over to the River Stour and had several small perch on a plug.

Encouraged by the perch I decided to have another session plugging for perch and chub. Again I used a 9cm black and silver floater. It was one of those sessions! I managed to find a couple of shoals of chub in very shallow water and the outcome was as follows. Hooked very big chub in a foot of fast water - came unstuck: hooked pike of about 2.5kg in marginal slack - came unstuck: lost three more chub all in shallow water: landed chub of under 1kg: hooked a good pike (8kg?) - came unstuck. The hooks were very sharp and the tackle was sound so I can only conclude that the rod I was using (a new one bought for travelling and under test) is a bit on the 'soft' side for spinning. It will be back to the old carp rod next time.

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 -

Masses of fresh coralline and other algae in tiny pieces.

Piles of 'salad' like this can be very local and are often full of Idothea.

Woodlice from the weed.

These animals are quite fast swimmers and both bass and mullet eat lots of them.  These are big ones.

Whelming mullet in a calm sea.

On my second trip the sea was flat and most of the bass had gone but there were lots of mullet.

'Shrimp fly.

These seem to be reasonable copies of the Idothea

At last!

Notice that this schoolie had completely swallowed the fly, it was hooked in the back of the tongue.

The same bass.

After I unhooked the fish I laid the fly on it to show the scale of it.

One of my Stour perch.

The perch were all under the white water in a weir pool.

The chub.

This was the only one I managed to land despite hooking several others.

Good colours for a plug?

This male minnow was foul hooked on my plug.  The brightly coloured males shoal up on the shallows at spawning time.  The drab brownish females stay in deeper water until they are ready to lay eggs.