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).

Interesting times!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a healthy, fishfull New Year. I think I've said that we'll be away until February so I've just put together a few pictures of 2011's activities to tide things over 'til I get back. I picked a picture from each month and tried to give the sequence a bit of variety to show what sort of year it was.

My first trip in January was with my pals Ben and Phil. Phil had never caught a pike. On getting to the river we put him in what we thought was the prime spot and he lowered his bait into the water. I wandered a few metres upstream and dropped my paternoster into a gap in the overhanging brambles. Wallop! Within a couple of seconds the rod arched over as a pike took the bait. I tightened and called to the others that I had a fish on. Ben began to walk up towards me but before he arrived the fish had managed to release hook and bait. Bother!!!! (or words to that effect). I tried again in the same spot anticipating that the pike was probably still there and wondering what had happened to its meal. Perhaps one minute later the bait was taken again and this time there was no mistake. After a bit of a tussle Ben and I managed to land my catch - not a monster but a fine pike in good condition. After showing the fish to Phil and returning it to the water I was about to rebait when there was a swirl and a splash as Phil's bait was taken. Ben stood by to help out while I took a few pictures. Excellent! It wasn't long before Phil was grinning as he held up his first ever pike. Two fish in ten minutes - good start. We moved on up to try a couple of new spots and it wasn't long before my paternostered dace was again taken. This one was hooked first time and Phil, being nearest, helped me to land it and took my picture. After the third fish things slowed down a bit. I switched to a spoon to try and conserve bait and we worked our way downstream trying suitable pools on the way. It was some time before Ben managed to induce a bite. The fish fought well and was in mint condition when it was landed. It turned out to be the first of three for my pal so he made up for his slow start. All in all we had six fish between us for the afternoon including not only the first fish of 2011 but the first pike ever for Phil.


Phil looks on at Ben's pike - one of six that we had that afternoon.  A nice way to start the year

In early February Ben and I again went for an hour or two on the river. We caught a few smallish baits and opted to try different approaches. Ben used a bait under a float and I tried a big, home made, soft plastic lure. Within seconds of starting Ben was into a fish and we both thought that this was a sign of things to come - no such luck! It was probably an hour or more before I had a take on the lure and landed a slightly bigger pike then that was it! Not hectic but interesting.


My soft plastic - a sort of waggy 'Slandra' - caught a pike.

It was early March and I roused myself at 04.45. The brisk walk to my chosen mark was almost pleasant and I began fishing at about twenty to six with the tide well on the way in. I was using a weighted Redgill and for half-an-hour I cast and retrieved fanning my casts to make sure I covered the water. Just as it was getting light I felt a slight double tap - was it a fish? I'm still not sure but it was encouragement. So, for another fifteen minutes, I continued my enthusiastic spinning. By now it was getting quite light and I reached the point where I generally say 'just three more casts!' The three casts came and went but the water looked so nice and clear that I thought I'd have another three. The first one was straight out to sea and the second one was parallel to the shore, just outside a narrow band of drifting weed. The lure plopped in and I began to turn the handle when suddenly - wallop! I was into a decent fish. It fought hard despite the cold water and it was some little time before I had it under control. I grabbed the camera from my bag and (riskily) took a picture of it as it slid under the rod tip. Then I heaved it onto the beach. A couple more pictures, unhook it (easy with the flattened barb) and set it free. The four pound fish was in mint condition, an excellent start to my year. It would have seemed greedy to have another cast so at this point I packed in and went home. As a matter of interest the fish coughed up several living Idotea as I drew it ashore so that's what it had been feeding on. Clearly the Redgill was too good to resist.


My first bass of 2011, on an Evo Redgill - shades of things to come.

By April the carp fishing was in full swing and I caught a fair few - almost all on floating crust. Here's an example from late in the month: - "My next choice of spot was a narrow channel where I saw one or two fish hurrying through. I cast my bait so that the line hung vertically from a willow twig and the crust floated in mid-channel. As I waited probably eight or nine fish, in ones and twos, swam straight past the bait. A couple glanced at the bait but then just kept going. After perhaps fifteen minutes two common carp of quite different sizes came along. As they approached the bait the smaller fish was ahead and it came up and nudged the bait with its snout. Within seconds its buddy shouldered it out of the way, grabbed the crust, hooked itself and tore off in the direction it had come from. A battle royal ensued with the carp splashing wildly, making strong runs and diving in under the bank. Eventually the fish tired and I was able to get it into the net - sixteen pounds. I picked it up and used the time delay on the camera to take a picture of me before I returned it. Excellent stuff!"


What a battle I had with this carp - fantastic.

In May/June we went to Tobago for our annual holiday. As always it came up with the goods. Here's one tale: - "The next day it poured with rain (it was the rainy season) but we'd arranged to visit the local museum for some photography so no fishing. The following day we drove round the island visiting one or two beaches which sometimes produce fish but there was nothing doing anywhere. By now I was getting an itchy casting finger and having already lost a couple of big fish to the reef I decided to try a different area of the flats, on a blazingly hot afternoon. This time there was only turtle grass and sand to contend with so I fancied my chances of landing fish - if there were any. As I fiddled with my rod before wading into the sea my wife, who was with me, said that she was going to have a swim and began to bob about just a few metres from the waters edge. I turned and flicked the lure. a little Angel Kiss, out (well clear of the swimmer) just to get the kinks out of my braid and in an instant I found myself playing a powerful fish. I called to Lilian to leave the sea (I didn't want a bonefish and a woman attached to the lure) and set about playing the fish. Jeez did it go!!!!! It must have been five or ten minutes before I was able to slide my first bonefish of the trip ashore. As usual it was smaller than it seemed - perhaps only five or six pounds but I was well chuffed."


Bonefish are the tops - however you catch them.

Later on in June we had an archaeology trip to St Davids in Wales. I managed to scrape a few hours of spinning and the total result was one small bass. Probably my most pleasing fish of the year, having been caught in a new area on the basis of no information.


One of the spots I tried in Wales. The place looked fantastic but was fishless (one missed bite - probably not a bass).

Mid-Summer saw the local rivers heaving with seatrout. As I crossed a bridge on the little River Piddle at Wareham I counted twenty seatrout and one decent salmon in an area smaller than my back garden. I had about three, heat-of-the-day, attempts to catch seatrout on another river nearby and landed good fish every time plus a couple of bonus salmon. All were caught on small jointed Rapalas and returned fit and well.


A nice seatrout on the Rapala in sunny conditions.

My new floating fly line had its first outings in August. It was Christened with a couple of trout. Neither of them very big. I followed up with a trip to the sea at first light. Using a little Delta plastic eel I landed a load of pollack and mackerel in no time at all - magic!


A decent pollack on my new fly line.  Their first plunge for cover is electric on this gear.

September produced perch and chub on various plugs. I always enjoy plugging in the river when there's a chance of four or five species of fish. You never quite know what will take next. The use of braided lines has made a huge difference to this sort of fishing as the risk of losing lures is now minimal.


A reasonable perch on a small plug.  Beautiful fish!.

My circle hook trials were extended into the use of smaller sizes. By freelining with lip hooked live minnows I managed to catch both trout and chub. I've already had perch and small pike so there's no doubt of the potential for this approach. Hopefully, I'll get more chances to try it next year.


A chub caught on a circle hook and live minnow freelined upstream.

The bass were still about in November and we caught a fair few on the lures (mostly Redgills). Because of my back injury I didn't get as many as I would have liked but my pal Bill made up for my deficiencies and he's still catching fish now - well into December.


Another bass on an Evo Redgill - this season's fashionalble lure.

Anyway - as I've said, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that 2012 provides a good year's fishing - whatever your preference.


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 -