Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

Information Page

Recently, while fishing with some BASS club (Bass Anglers' Sportfishing Society) members, one of them commented on the great abundance of fish along the Eastern Seaboard of North America compared to our own coast. This is certainly true and is never more evident than in the case of 'bait' fish (sandeels, sprats, anchovies, menhaden and the like.) Certainly it is rare to see vast shoals of fish looking like masses of rock or weed beneath the water along the Dorset coast, while these are commonplace in the Western Atlantic. Similarly, as sea anglers, we are much less 'tuned in' to looking for signs of fish than anglers in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, the indications of fish activity are often there if you look for them. Everyone knows about watching for feeding birds or for disturbance caused by feeding mackerel or bass but there are often more subtle indications of good fishing spots. Swirls of water, ripples, the backs of basking mullet, the glint of a turning bass or even the fin of a feeding fish showing above the water. When the sea is choppy or rough these signs may be difficult to see, unless you get your eye in, but the other day I saw a number of big mullet feeding on marine woodlice (Idothea) in calm conditions and took a few pictures to prove the point.

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September 18 2001

Idothea are about an inch long and they gather in huge numbers where fragments of seaweed accumulate in shallow water. The 'lice' swim stretched out and with a steady gliding movement and vary in colour from dark brown to olive or even yellow. They can be particularly abundant in the late summer and autumn and the fish (bass, mullet and wrasse) feed heavily on them when conditions are rough.

An Idothea laying on its back.

It is always worth taking a fly rod when the Idothea are about. The fish will often ignore baits or large lures but can be caught on fly tackle. Note all the chopped up weed and the waves breaking at our feet.

Tail spotting.

Two fish are visible in this picture but imagine how difficult it might be to see them if the sea was choppy.

Tails up and heads down for Idothea feeders.

If you were in the Caribbean this could be a bonefish. Both species will take flies and fight like demons but mullet fishing is cheaper.

A Dorset 'bonefish'