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).

More saltwater fly fishing.

As regular readers will know I have one or two pals in New Zealand who do some interesting sea fishing. Mark Hoffmann and Alan Bulmer both like to catch kahawai and snapper from the shore and from boats. Recently Mark sent me the following account of some of his exploits in 2010 which provides a nice follow up to Saltwater page 242 in which Alan also recounted a spot of exciting fly fishing. Anyway, here's Mark's little tale -

Hi Mike,

It’s been a while since I last contacted you – and not the fishiest of years for me in 2010, but the tide has turned and since November I’ve been getting back into my saltwater fly fishing. In fact I didn’t even buy a trout fishing licence last year – which is about the first time in two decades!

My two main modes of fishing are either solo locally on the estuary sandbanks or in the Bay Of islands (of Zane Gray fame) with my friend Craig who is fishing guide and writer – so I take my camera along and the photos are being used for magazine articles, and even a Sage fly rod advertisement soon! The weather was often misty,which did make for some moody shots. Craig specialises in stalking and sight fishing for large snapper or kingfish from rocky ledges, often using a squashed up pilchard or two to draw fish out into the open. Then it is case of presenting a 4/0 fly to a fish less than 10 metres away – trout style! He has put some of his clients onto fish over 10 kg and the size 12 outfits he uses can seem inadequate in such close in, dirty fighting encounters! However such fish eluded us, but we were consoled with some 2-3 kg kahawai that were surface feeding on the boat trip back.

The weather for this summer in Auckland, where I live, has been quite consistently warm and the water temp even in November was getting up to 18oC which brings the highly prized snapper into the littoral zone, well within land based fly fishing range.

As Alan, the other Kiwi writer on your site has shown, these estuary specimens are not huge fish, but they fight doggedly, using their deep flanks to resist to the very end. My biggest so far this season was nearly 40 cm. They are a prized food fish and hence my wife is quite happy to allow me on my fly fishing trips during summer! I am using either a WF#7 floater or intermediate with weighted flies to get down the 1-2 metres to the deck. I now use a 10 kg leader because once these fish get over 35 cm their dental work is quite formidable and have lost some big ones when I’ve thought a 3-4 kg tippet was adequate.

This year the kahawai (Australian Salmon – and similar to the US “Sea trout”) have been more available in the harbour. A fast stripping retrieve is required to get their attention – and you know you’re too slow when you ease off the pace and suddenly there’s the swirl of a couple of disappointed fish veering off to look for excitement elsewhere! Once hooked, kahawai are one of the world’s great aerial exponents, give them a moment's slack and they’ll toss the fly – check out one of my photos where I’ve caught the moment of disconnect.

I have also posted a video I took of a small kahawai doing some nice acrobatics at

As you may notice, the retrieve has to be pretty fast. This was fishing into a shallow channel as the tide was falling – kahawai love tidal rips for ambushing baitfish (as many other predatory species do).

All these shots and the video were taken on my Pentax K-7. I must say I can heartily recommend this camera to anyone who wants to take a DSLR fishing – mine has clocked up 12 months being extensively splashed with saltwater, smeared with fish slime, rained on at soccer games and enduring dust and sand at the beaches. All you have to do is wash it down afterwards to get the salt crystals out of all the nooks and crannies. It is quite amusing to pour water over it and see the reaction on people’s faces!



Nice fishing eh! It seems to me that the common fish down under are liable either to throw the hook, bite through the trace or empty the spool. Take care! I have to say that, being a fly fishing philistine (you knew that didn't you?), I'd probably have a hook in the 'squashed up pilchard' if I was doing it. I notice that Mark has also posted a video clip of snapper on the fly at the above address.

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 -

The gear.

It's a bit smarter than my old Okuma reel - nice 'bass' fly too.


Stripping at pace is obviously a good tactic when you're after kahawai.

Up she goes.

A nice kawai shows its paces.

-and again.

In the air once more.  These sort of shots are tricky to get.


This one, tarpon like, has managed to shed the fly in mid air.

Nice fish.

Mark with one of his kahawai.

What a place.

Any sea angler could visualise the potential in a beautiful place like this..


A fine, fly-caught, snapper.

Snapper 2.

They really are cracking fish.