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).

Lures work!

My third son, Richard, is a keen, all round angler. For some time now he has lived on the coast of Brazil at Maceio and he has been exploring the fishing potential. His first attempts with artificial lures were total failures so he switched to bait fishing - just to catch something (mostly various species of catfish). Now he knows that it takes time to get to know the fishing anywhere and you can expect a few blanks at first. However, at every opportunity Rich has had another go with his old faithful plugs, spoons and the like. Recently he had his first modest successes and no doubt it is only a matter of time until he get's it all sussed (hopefully before I pay my next visit to him). Here's his latest report:-

Hi Dad,

Here's the report of the my last two trips in the kayak - both were interesting, but for completely different reasons...

Sunday 29th April - 5.30am

Got up at 5am as it was getting light, picked up the Sure Popper armed with the little transparent 'bonefish lure' and rolled the kayak down to the beach - living less than 100m from the beach has its advantages! I paddled out to the reef (about 400m) from the beach, trolling over the seagrass as I went. Not a touch. Next, I skimmed over the reef that was covered in about 2 foot of water, also without a touch. I decided to check my lure and, much to my surprise, I'd hooked a little tropical wrasse no bigger than the lure and dead as a dodo. Over the next hour I caught 3 coneys and a graysby (small tropical groupers), the biggest probably 1/2lb. This is very much par for the course although, being the tropics, it seems likely that bigger fish must occasionally patrol around the reef.

The wrasse means that I have now caught 4 species of fish on lures (in 4 serious trips) - so using artificials is not a complete write-off, although I am probably the only guy in 2000km of coastline who fishes like this!

Monday 30th April - 4.30pm

I normally start work early (6.30-7am) so I can go fishing in the evening if the conditions look good. Tonight the tide was fairly low and the wind wasn't blowing too hard - both good because it means the water isn't too choppy and there is no swell coming over the reef. Once again I was using the small, transparent 'Angels Kiss' lure, 30lb braid and my old Okuma reel (you get quite a bit of salt water splash in the kayak and, as the fish are small, I thought I would 'save' my more expensive reels for better fishing opportunities). Once again I trolled over the sea-grass bed on my way to the reef. However, this time something completely unexpected happened... I was about halfway to the reef (200m from the beach) when the rod whanged over and line started pouring from the spool. I grabbed the rod from the holder and immediately knew this was a really big fish. Thankfully it was heading to the beach... then the line went slack. Shit! ...I wound in furiously to find that the fish was still attached and was now steaming towards me!

It passed the kayak about 50m to my right, still stripping line with a rather ominous facility. In fact, the spool was emptying before my eyes. I started frantically tightening the drag, but it seemed to make no difference at all... actually, this isn't quite true, the kayak began moving towards the fish and the line kept pouring off the spool. 100m, 120m, 150m, 180m....I thought I could see the spool behind the line and the fish was getting ominously close to the reef.

In desperation I decided I had to follow the fish to try to get some line back. Big mistake! As I turned to put the rod in the rod holder I didn't take account of the extra pressure of the fish on the rod and the kayak flipped over dumping me in the water. I was now bobbing on the surface (I always use a life jacket) with one arm holding the rod attached to a large, angry fish, wondering what the hell I could do. Luckily, these modern fishing kayaks are remarkably well balanced and with a desperate heave I was able to flip it back the right way up. Carefully putting the rod in the holder I slithered onto the kayak and retrieved my camera (waterproof and locked in a plastic case so it floats) and my lures (also in a floating plastic case). Unfortunately, my glasses and my pliers were gone for good!

Picking up the rod again I felt the depressing sensation of line rubbing against coral and, predictably, after 5-10 seconds the line parted. Gutted, I slowly paddled back to the beach - all motivation for fishing having deserted me.

So what was it? I'm guessing a big crevalle jack - I could feel its head jerking as it was running. Alternatives are a big bonefish (though I have never heard of a big one caught in Brazil), snapper, grouper, tarpon (it didn't jump), some other sort of jack or something I don't know about. As I use a 20lb nylon trace I don't think it was a shark or a barracuda.

On the positive side I did learn a few important lessons: 1) there are big fish here, albeit thin on the ground. 2) don't f**k around when you are playing a big fish in a kayak. If you are close enough and have enough line it would even be better to return to the beach to play the fish. 3) it is difficult to put pressure on a big fish when you are fishing in a small boat. 4) always wear contact lenses or tie your glasses to your head (likewise pliers). It might even be worth tying yourself to the kayak. 5) always use the best tackle you have - in future I will be trolling with my Stella reel and a bigger lure.

I'm off to Santiago (Chile) to examine a PhD tomorrow, but will be back in the hot-seat again as soon as I get back. Will keep you informed of progress (or more likely, lack of progress).



So, there it is! There ARE big predatory fish in the lagoon off Richard's local beach and it looks as though he'll have fun trying to catch them. I can't wait for my next trip to Brazil.

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 -


Small groupers seem to be ubiquitous on tropical reefs.


Another beautiful little grouper.


This was an unfortunate little fish.