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).

Winter bass on lures.

Now I've never been a 'fair weather fisherman' and I'm always prepared to give it a go whatever time of the year it is. However, I'm a great believer in getting a return for my effort in terms of fish caught for the time I expend fishing. Usually when it gets to December I decide that it would be more productive to fish for pike than for bass and, in general, this is just a fact. On the other hand when your enthusiasm is fired by new fish and fishing methods you are often inclined to go that bit further in your search for success.

At the back end of last year my pal Bill - who's relatively new to (but already pretty skilled at) catching bass on lures said that he was going to continue through the winter with the tactics that had served him so well in 2011. I reported in December that he was still catching bass on lures and, from time to time since then, he's sent me reports of how he was getting on. No doubt this will be of interest to other bass anglers so here's a slightly edited version of his reports as they came to me. the first in early February-

Hi Mike,

Todays report as follows:

My car tells me its MINUS SIX driving to the beach this morning. As I skitter my way along the icy roads I spot a tawny owl, a badger and a hare, quite a nature trail! I arrive at the car park at 0630 and its still dark, the wind is only slight but its f***ing cold. I walk to the beach in the dark. As the skies start to brighten I can't work out why the cliff somehow seems different. Its only after a few more minutes that I realise, its so bloody cold the cliffs have frozen.

After an hour I'm starting to get cold, even in two pairs of socks, long johns, jeans, waders, long sleeved thermal vest, t shirt, jumper, another jumper, coat, fingerless sailing gloves and a rather cool hat with ear flaps I bought on Friday . I decide to fish my way along the shore & warm up a bit, after a while I come to a big bank of weed with waves lapping at its base. I reach the weed & I swap to an albino 7.5" Slug-Go. I vary my casts and retrieval methods. As the slug slithers through the weed, about 6 feet out....THUMP. I lift my rod and I can see the head and flank of a bloody good sized bass (5lb?) rise to the surface. The bass gives one shake of the head, the hook pops out and the Slug-Go launches itself into the air and whizzes past my right ear. I can only imagine that he was ever so slightly lip hooked or skin hooked rather than a good old Redgill hooking, as soon as any pressure went on the line out popped the hook!

Disappointed beyond belief (& encouraged at the same time) I continue to fish in this spot for a while. After a bit my feet are like blocks of ice and I'm starting to shiver badly, sod this! Time for a speed march back to where I started. When I get there the tide is half out & now I can see tails and fins sticking out of the kelp. There are at least two or three bass here. I am "definitely in" I think to myself and out goes the Redgill.

After maybe ten casts there is no more sign of fins and tails. I've spooked the fish! I stay for another half an hour before I start to shiver again. I can't stand it any longer, Ive got to get back to my car, home and central heating. As I drive home I'm mad at myself for losing a good fish but there wasn't any "bad angling" involved it was just one of those things.

I can almost hear you saying......."THAT AS THEY SAY IS FISHING". Oh well.....even after this cold spell I know one thing for sure.....the bass are still about. Maybe I'll get one next weekend?

All the best,


--- and next -

Hi Mike,

As Sally was working today, despite the 26mph winds I went and had another shuftie at the coast.

I arrived at low tide just as the flood was starting and straight away could see a good few large fish grubbing about in the kelp belt. I'm not sure if they were bass or mullet, it was choppy & difficult to see but there were a few five pounders there and at times I could see half a dozen backs at the same time.

I fished in the wind with a Redgill, then tried an Albino Slug-Go with a cone weight, and then tried an Arkansas shiner Slug-Go. As the tide started to push up the beach there seemed to be even more fish activity but it was bloody hard work in the strong gusts and then to make matters worse it started to piss with rain. I eventually switched back to a redgill and was rewarded with a nice bass of probably just over 2lb. After it spiked and jabbed me a few times I took a few snaps including one of me in my very smart new hat. This thing saved my life last weekend in the freezing cold and it kept the rain off today.

I only fished for an-hour-and-half today, which is a pretty short session for me, but with a fish under my belt and the wind and rain getting worse & making things difficult I packed up and headed home. Sally is working again tomorrow, the wind is supposed to drop and there is no rain forecast so I guess I'll be back down tomorrow lunchtime at low tide and fish the tide up. If its not too windy I may pop round further but I know that the bay will be filthy so won't venture that far. When are you going to dust your bassing gear off?

All the best,


I replied saying that my sciatic nerve was on the mend and that I might give my iffy leg a stretch at the weekend - which I did without too much of a problem. I got absolutely soaking wet (it poured down) and lost one decent fish (my only bite). Bill went the afternoon after me and then again as follows -

Hi Mike

I decided to have a quick fix yesterday afternoon. I got to the sea at 16:30 and fished to just after 18:00 when it got to the point of not being able to see what I was doing. When I arrived it was very weedy close in but not too bad further out and once again I could see a lot of good sized fish in amongst the veg. I tried Redgills, Slug-Gos (various sizes - white & the Arkansas shiner ones) & a Slug-Gill. Not a sausage. The bass were in so close, only in a few inches of water at times. By 18:00 I reached the point where I was considering standing in the soup and trying to kick one or two ashore.....very frustrating. Oh well I'm going down at 12:00 today and will fish the incoming tide, I think I might see John down there & hopefully have better results! I think I am in for a damp afternoon.

Did you venture down this morning?

All the best


--- and here's his next posting-

Hi Mike,

I got to the shore in the pissing rain

(Join the club)M.L.

just before 13:00. The steps down to the beach were like rapids! John had been there since 10:30. As the tide came in yet again I was tormentented by large fins and tails, there weren't as many bass as yesterday but there were some bloody good sized ones grubbing about. We tried everything with no luck. We both trailed our lures (Redgills, Slug-Gos, Slandras, Slug-Gills) in front of them with no luck. HOW THE HELL DO YOU CATCH THEM?????

(I wish I knew!)M.L.

John left after about half an hour. The fish were still about and I did manage to hook one which came off. This is the second time recently I've lost a fish just after hooking it, in the colder temperatures to you think the bites could be less aggressive?

After an hour or so the rain finally stopped but it was still cold. Just about on high tide I moved along the rocks to fish from some boulders. I was rewarded by a smallish bass, maybe 2lb? Anyway it made my day after all the rain and last week's blank. I really have to suss out those low tide bass mooching in the kelp. If I can't catch them I'm going to end up with an ulcer. Anyway, I'll have an early start (by my standards) next Sunday,

Might see you on the beach?

All the best,


So, there you have it. There were fish about all winter and they took lures on occasion. The preoccupied woodlouse feeders in the loose kelp have always been a problem. I've caught my share of them over the years but rarely more than one or two in a session. (my best was five). They are probably even more frustrating than surface feeding mullet.

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 -


Rather Bill than me on a day like this.


This one certainly meant to have the Redgill.

Nice hat!

At least his ears must have been warm.

Another bass.

It's so pleasing to get a fish when they are difficult to tempt.

Smile please!

Obviously a good deal warmer.