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).

Tobago 09 - small stuff

Inevitably, wherever you go fishing, there will be accidental catches. Often these smaller fish are colourful and they are always interesting. Our trip to Tobago was no different from any other in this respect and the odds and sods came in two ways. Firstly there was the 'byecatch' of our lurefishing. Usually we were after things like jacks, tarpon, bonefish and barracuda but at times the lures were taken by little fish of various types. The second group of 'interesting' species were those that we caught on simple handlines or on the light rod baited with whatever we could lay hands on.

One of the commonest 'accidentals' to take lures in tropical waters is the houndfish. As a rule you will be spinning from a beach or from the rocks (in fact just about anywhere) and you will get fierce snatches which you fail to hook. Sometimes you will see the long, green shape sliding after the lure or the culprit will be revealed as it leaps from the water and cartwheels above the surface and occasionally you will hook and land one. These giant garfish are amazingly agile and of course the toothy beak makes them difficult to catch. On the end of the line they will put up a fair show with lots of splashing and jumping interspersed by fast short runs. If, as sometimes happens, the line above your trace gets wrapped around the beak of the fish in the course of all the antics you can kiss goodbye to half a metre of braid. It's almost impossible to untangle braided line from the mouth of a houndfish without well chewed fingers. However, it's hard to dislike these irridescent green missiles because they often enliven a slow session.

Many of the smaller 'reef' fish are, to some extent, predatory. Even if the book says 'feeds on sea urchins/clams/algae/etc. you may find yourself reeling a specimen in on your plug or spoon. Some, like the lizard fishes and various snappers, are pretty keen to devour anything that swims but others, such as trunk fish, Bermuda chub, sergeant majors, damsel fishes and their ilk are unlikely to take anything but natural bait of some description. During our recent trip the latter group fell to winkles collected on the shore and to cooked shrimps (we always keep a few in the freezer just in case).

Many snappers are very colourful fish. The mutton snapper, a particularly attractive fish, is a common catch in Tobago and makes a good meal. In one occasion we kept a couple and grilled them for our evening meal - delicious! Less popular catches are lizard fishes of various kinds. They all look alike with huge, toothy mouths and skinny bodies but they move like lightening to intercept lures however fast you are winding. On this trip we caught our first snake fish - one of the smaller and less common members of the tribe. Yellow tailed snappers are perhaps the most colourful lure takers and even though the ones we caught were small, it was always a pleasure to see them.

During our two week stay we only fished with bait on a couple of occasions. Once using sea snails on a little handline from a small jetty and then with bits of shrimp on a rod from steep rocks into a heavy swell. Both tactics were very productive. Some of the reef fish give you a fair old battle on eight pound nylon and a light spinning rod and, if it wasn't for the fact that there are much bigger fish to be caught it would be possible to have an excellent holiday fishing like this. We didn't take pictures of everything that we caught but a few of them are illustrated below.

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 -

Spinning from the rocks.

Precariously perched on slippery, algae covered-rock, Richard plugs away.


Not a monster by houndfish standards but a satisfying catch on a lure.

Yellowtail snapper!

The size of the treble hook shows how keen this little chap was to take the plug.


Much less common than its larger relative the sand diver but just as fierce.

Small grouper!

There are several similar species of these little fish with big mouths.

Mutton snapper!

We caught lots of these on lures but this little chap took a winkle.

Sergeant major!

Tempted by a shrimp fished from the rocks.


This species of grunt grows to a good size.

Yellowhead wrasse!

One of the many species with irridescent blue decorations.

Bermuda chub!

Reputed to feed on plant material but this one had a liking for shrimp.

Smooth trunkfish!

Just like a fish in a box. These fish secrete a deadly poison from the skin (don't tell Richard!!!)