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).

Seduced by tarpon!

My wife and I are back from our two week stay in Tobago. The purpose of the holiday was threefold - firstly sunshine and relaxation, secondly to obtain some pictures of monuments and artefacts for Lilian to use in historical lectures and lastly (most important) for me to do a bit of fishing.

The first thing I always do on arrival is to unpack the fishing gear from the suitcase and inspect the rods - two four piece spinning rods and a fly rod. Having set them up and checked that everything had arrived safe and undamaged I walked out onto the little balcony of our room and looked across towards Crown Point - the sight was unbelievable, there were birds fishing everywhere. This, of course, means that the sea was stuffed with baitfish and that there were certain to be lots of predatory fish feeding on them.

Five o'clock the following morning found me, spinning rod in hand, standing alone on the beach as the first light was in the sky. The pelicans were just starting to plunge into the flat calm sea and I was all agog with anticipation. Soon the pelicans were joined by laughing gulls, several species of terns and flocks of brown noddies all eager to eat their fill. Where were the fish? I was not to be disappointed. With one mighty splash after another the tarpon began to feed. Fish ranging from perhaps one metre to well over two metres in length crashed through the surface. Some of them were close enough for me to poke them with the rod tip, it was awesome!

Disappointment awaited. I cast and retrieved for an hour or more but I couldn't get a sniff. Poppers, sub-surface divers and softbaits were all tried in vain. I was extremely frustrated. The fish were so preoccupied with the billions of baitfish that my lures were simply a waste of energy as far as the tarpon were concerned. On my way back for breakfast I saw the car of my Tobagonian fishing pal Rupert (a real expert) and stopped for a chat. "Yes, there were loads of baitfish and tarpon off the point." He agreed that the tarpon were totally preoccupied with the tiny silver baitfish and would be difficult or impossible to tempt with lures. Jacks, which Rupert and his pals prefer to catch to eat were absent. They hadn't caught or seen one for days. Over the next week I tried time and again to tempt a tarpon to no avail - it was futile.

During our holiday I had numerous sorties after the tarpon - all were biteless. The snook, which were numerous when we fished last year appeared to be absent and the jacks failed to materialise over the entire holiday. That, as they say, is the bad news! Now I have fished abroad often enough to know that you should never put all your eggs into one basket (or indeed make all your casts from one beach). So, on my second morning I opted to try the flats at Pigeon Point. I began by spinning a small shallow diver, wading and working my way along as I fished. Within the first ten minutes or so I had several bites - all missed - which I put down to a combination of needlefish and small barracuda. At least it was something.

After about an hour of fishless cast and retrieve suddenly I was into a fish and this was a real fish - a bonefish. The reel screamed as the fish took off for the horizon and I remembered why I love these tropical waters so much. Anyway, more of this one and of the subsequent bonefish exploits, on my next page. For the moment I'll stick to my plan. The following day we spent on the beach and I tried spinning and fly fishing over the sand, mud and turtle grass in the heat of the day. At last I made a catch, hooking and landing several 'jack' barracuda. Each one took the plug at incredible speed and with sundry leaps and fast runs really got me into the swing of the fishing.

My next session was off a steep sandy beach which is usually pounded by constant surf but this time the water was flat calm. I trudged along casting a shallow diving plug as I went until I reached a small rocky reef. Standing on the slippery rocks and casting into the deeper water beyond I was quite optimistic. Suddenly the rod crashed round as a fish took the lure. this one immediately plunged into the depths ripping off line as it went. What the hell was it? I could tell it was no monster but it could certainly pull a bit. The steep angle of the line threatened to cut the braid against the rough edge of the ledge I was standing on so I eased the check to let the fish go further out. The fish began to tire and as it did so came up nearer the surface and I was able to draw it into the shallow water breaking over the rocks. It was a tuna, not a big one but the first I have ever caught from the shore. I was chuffed. After a couple of pictures I returned the fish and began to cast again. Another strong bite and again I was into a fish. Was it another little tunny? After a bit of a tussle I slid it ashore and could see that this one was a jack of some sort. In fact it was a blue runner - the first that I had ever seen. Another bonus. I still love seeing different fish.

Later in the trip I had more barracuda and I also landed needlefish and a slippery dick, a sort of colourful wrasse. I didn't get pictures of these because I was chest deep in the sea as I caught them. Every day or two during my stay I had another futile try for the tarpon - the frustration was intense - but in between these efforts I did manage to find bonefish and I'll write about them 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 -


These birds are a good indication of the presence of bait fish and usually the predatory fish (in this case tarpon) aren't far behind.


My first fish of the trip - quite a relief.

- and another.

This one just nipped the tail of the Angel Kiss plug.

The ledge.

I'd trudged haf-a-mile along the sand in the blazing sun to get to this spot.

Little tunny.

I've caught a fair number of these beautiful fish from the boat but this was a first from the shore for me.  They always seem to head for the bottom when they're hooked.

Blue runner.

I'd never seen, let alone caught, one of these before.

A bit better.

Another, slightly better, barracuda from the flats.  This one did a few cartwheels while being played.