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 - Odds and sods!

Back from our two weeks in the sun and the fishing was a bit like the curate's egg - good and bad in parts. For the first week I fished with my pal Steve Pitts and after a couple of days we were joined by my son Richard. The writing was on the wall on our first morning. We arrived at the beach and spoke to our friend Rupert King - ace fisherman and true gent - who was already on the shore waiting for action. He told us that the fishing had been very poor recently with virtually no bait fish present. Now, in the tropics if there are no bait fish there are no feeding birds and worse still no predatory fish - not good news. The presence of fish such as tarpon, jacks and snook is much more dependent on big shoals of bait than on any seasonal or weather conditions. Sure enough the omens were correct and there was almost nothing doing in most places that we tried - and did we try?????

On our second morning we went to a different beach and again found no bait or birds. However I managed to winkle out a barracuda which put up a fair old tussle in the strong surf. Phew! The question was - why no bait? No one seemed to know the answer. On our third day Richard arrived after his long journey from Brazil (three flights and twenty-four hours) and the jammy devil managed to find a couple of decent fish on his first morning session but more of that next time. First a bit more about the baitfish puzzle. On the day after Richard's arrival a huge ground swell appeared on the Caribbean coast. The waves were enormous and most of the beaches and even the flats were totally unfishable. The surfers had a beano. This sort of event is quite rare and didn't do anything to improve our chances but it did offer an explanation of the absence of bait. I surmised that the small fish (usually abundant) had somehow anticipated the onset of the big swell and made off into deeper water where neither the birds nor the anglers could reach them. This seemed to be confirmed in our second week when things settled down and bait gradually returned to some of the beaches. It says it all that Steve only managed one fish in his entire week - unheard of on past trips.

During our stay we did manage to catch some good fish and in fact, despite the grim conditions, we finished up with a reasonable score. Tarpon (usually thick on the ground) and bonefish were conspicuously absent from most spots but variety is the spice of life and we certainly had a varied selection. On a drive up the Atlantic coast, mainly to avoid the rough waters of the Caribbean, I spun a plug and was rewarded with a cero mackerel - new to me - and then a small horseye jack. Not too bad. Later in the trip I had a southern sennet - a smallish species of barracuda with much larger eyes than its big cousin but just as ferocious and toothy. Again this was a species I'd not caught before. Richard had lizard fish and coney grouper as well as a small crevalle. The latter had taken the plug but hooked itself in the back.

All in all it was an interesting two weeks and we (particularly Steve) were unlucky with the conditions. Most of these pictures courtesy of my wife. When I upload the the next couple of pages I'll say a bit more about the best of the fishing and some of the bigger fish we caught. Persistence paid off and by using a bit of initiative and searching for the few spots where bait was present we managed to save the trip from disaster.

Reef fish.

A piece of bread crust will attract hundreds of sergeant majors to the feast.

Rupert King and me.

Not only is he about a foot taller than me but Rupert knows a lot more about catching jacks and tarpon.  He fishes from the beach all day and every day - what a life!

Steve at dawn.

Despite all his efforts during the first week Steve only managed one fish - all down to the conditions.


Normally feeding pelicans are everywhere but for several days they were absent altogether.

Good sign.

When they plummet in like this it raises our hopes.

Caribbean beach.

My picture doesn't do justice to the size of the swell.

Caribbean again.

Richard tries to bang a lure out beyond the surf.

The Atlantic.

As you see, despite the constant onshore wind, it's much calmer.

Cero mackerel.

My first ever  of this species.  It fought like a train.

Another Atlantic shore.

Again pretty calm.  I'm the one on the beach.

Small horseye.

Another bonus considering the conditions.  This was caught from the spot in the previous picture.

Richard's coney.

Careful Rich!  It kicked as he tried to unhook it.  Another centimetre and we'd have been taking the hook out of his wrist.

Small crevalle jack.

Clearly it took the Angel Kiss and hooked itself in the back - it was returned and swam off strongly.

Southern sennet.

Another species of barracuda but caught much less often.


Even when the fishing's not so good Tobago has it's compensations.