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).

More on mullet.

Following the blog page from my epal Colin, on fly fishing for mullet, that I posted recently I had a follow up from Joe - one of Colin's friends. Despite the fact that I've been catching mullet for many years, on both fly and spinner, the two emails combined taught me a huge amount about fishing for these wonderful fish so here's Joe's contribution:-

Dear Mike

I was just reading the post regarding Colin’s late season thick-lip. I fish with Colin regularly, making the trip down to Hampshire (I moved to Wales from Southampton 5 years ago) on a regular basis during the summer season, principally with the mullet in mind! I’ve been saltwater flyfishing for about 7 years now, but it’s been the revelation regarding mullet on the fly which has captivated me for the last four, and much of what I’ve learned and developed has come directly from, or been adapted from, Colin’s early trials. Up here in Wales I fish a few marks that present abundant opportunities for all three species of mullet, and distinct and separate feeding behaviour requiring very different techniques;

• Static feeding, which is much like watching tailing bonefish, requiring a stealthy approach and flies gently dropped amongst the stationary, feeding thick-lips and tweaked incredibly slowly with a tiny figure-of-eight retrieve,

• Flow feeding – highly effective dead-drifting or slow retrieve as the flies are delivered to actively lunging and feeding mullet in a confined flow or current (mullet often sit in that flow and hoover up passing morsels just as a trout does, sometimes splashing noisily on the surface – I’ve had most of mine in this situation)

• Chasing down – up until recently this had seemed to be the party trick of the golden greys, which are far more aggressive and energetic and seem to respond better to a fly stripped at ‘bass’ speeds. But earlier this season, I watched thick-lips behaving a little differently. I was fishing for them at a regular estuary mark and had bagged a couple in the flow on the flood, before the tide exceeded the restrictions that give rise to the favourable currents and the fish fanned out across the river bed as normal. Usually I would then be patrolling the margins, looking for preoccupied shoals that had switched on to static feeding. This time though I began to witness small groups of two or three fish suddenly break off and zig-zag wildly about before halting moving and then repeating. This was definitely not the playful ‘cavorting’ that I often see mullet doing at this mark, but a deliberate, targeted lunging, although for the life of me, I couldn’t see anything in the clear water which appeared to be triggering the response. In the end I tried my usual flies but eventually resorted to golden grey tactics, with short but very fast strips, and I did manage to engage with one decent fish but alas we parted company prematurely after a minute or so. I’ve subsequently watched the behaviour again, but as yet I’ve still to identify the quarry that’s catching their attention!

Certainly, when I lived in Southampton, I used to fish for feisty thin-lips up in the upper reaches of the Itchen using tiny Mepps spinners on extremely light spinning gear, and that was both hugely entertaining and effective, so I’d long been aware that certainly thin-lips had an aggressive streak (though I could never be sure whether it was just that …aggression, or whether it was feeding behaviour) but I’d never suspected thick-lips could be that voracious! One thing’s for certain, all three species are far from the mud-sucking passive feeders they’re so often perceived to be…and what sport they provide!

A few pics attached – plus all three species, all caught on the same fly pattern fished in different ways!

Kind Regards


I replied as follows:-

Hi Joe,

Thanks very much for the email. It teaches me a lot (despite all the mullet I've caught on the fly).

Clearly there's still a lot more that we don't know.

When I was working we had a saltwater tank in the lab and I kept some baby thick-lips in it. The mullet had three distinct methods of feeding. There was the usual bottom grovelling to sift fine particles from the sediment. They also skimmed the water surface for floating particles and, perhaps most interesting, they pumped water in with fast gill movements and presumably used a mucous trap on the gills to capture suspended microscopic algae.

When I used to spin for thinlips you could sometimes see them following the spoon and vibrating the lips to somehow ???taste?? (I think) chemicals diffusing from the attached ragworm. I don't fish for mullet so much these days but I'm still very interested and I'd like you to stay in touch so we can discuss the various behaviours. Would it be OK to use some of your email and pictures on the blog (say no if you want - no offence taken) as there may be other people interested.

Regards and thanks again,


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 -

Mullet on one of Joe's marks.

A nice picture of feeding mullet over a stony bed.

A thick-lip.

This one was keen on Joe's fly..

A thin-lip.

Nicely hooked on the same fly.

Golden greys

Also on the same fly.