Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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20 September 2002

At last!!

As I said last week Steve Pitts and myself had chosen a big September spring tide so that people who came to the B.A.S.S. Fish In could all try fly fishing for surface feeding bass and mullet. The event came and went and although it was very successful, the weather totally destroyed any chance of a fly fishing bonanza - sod's law was in operation.

Two weeks later the weather had settled and I decided on an early morning recce (05.30 so quite late really) to the spot which we SHOULD have fished. As I walked along the beach it was flat calm and piles of rotting kelp were scattered on the high water mark. I turned some of the weed over with my boot to find that the seaweed flies had been busy and maggots were already fat and growing fast in the middens.

Morning high waters are usually smaller than the corresponding evening tide so the sea was just lapping the maggoty weed and no fish were active on the surface. I started fishing with a medium sized popper and within minutes I had a good strike, from a fish of about three pounds, right at my rod tip - encouraging. After another twenty minutes popping and three more 'swirls' from little bass I decided to switch to a small jointed plug. Almost immediately the switch worked and in the next ten minutes I landed two schoolies and lost a couple more. I returned home, to take my wife in to work, well pleased.

That evening I had promised to take two keen coarse fishermen/archaeologists, who work on the Roman pottery site which is being excavated near Wareham (, down to the coast. Neither Steve nor Paul had done any sea fishing and they imagined that it involved chucking lumps of lead and big hooks out into the distance. I rigged plugging rods up for them and we met my pal Nigel Bevis on the shore about an hour before the evening high water. Already there were fish in evidence so after we had all plugged unsuccessfully for a while I picked up the fly rod and tied on a little white Delta eel.

After a few casts I hooked and landed a small bass, then Steve had another on his plug. Paul had a few bites but for some reason they refused to stick. Like me Nigel had switched to his fly gear but, despite trying a range of flies and maggot imitations we could not buy a bite. I had a tremendous battle from a small bass which turned out to be hooked in the gill cover on my small dry fly but we were struggling and the pluggers were doing no better.

I considered the contents of my little fly-box and decided to try a small, olive-green, shrimp fly. These shrimps look NOTHING like maggots but on a few occasions in the past, have succeeded where all else failed. Second cast - eureka! - I was into a bass. I landed the fish - took a picture - returned it - cast again - wallop! another fish. In the next twenty minutes I seemed to be playing fish almost all the time including a big fat mullet well hooked inside the mouth. Eventually I lost the fly when a big, unseen fish that had played me for five minutes wrapped the line round a snag (I didn't think there were any snags out there!).

A switch back to the plugging gear just confirmed that the fish weren't interested. Paul did eventually manage a schoolie on his plug as darkness fell. Well, that's it - the B.A.S.S. Fish In missed a fly fishing bonanza by one set of tides - perhaps next year?

For a link to B.A.S.S see our links page. I shall be on holiday at the end of September so the next page (or next but one) may be about my failure to catch anything in Sardinia - Cheers! Mike.

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 -

Steve into his first ever bass.

Paul looks on while Nigel is oblivious.


Only a schoolie but what a feeling!.

A quick picture.

Well hooked on the mid-body treble.  It would not have come off.

My first 'fly-caught' fish

The head of the Delta eel (painted inky blue) is just visible in the corner of the bass' mouth.

What a beauty.

At this time of year the mullet are in prime nick.  This one had engulfed my shrimp fly.

Last gasp.

Paul's bass landed right at the end of the session.