Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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6 May 2003

A bad spell!

I know that this update is a bit late. The main reason is that I have been waiting until I caught something to photograph. Of course everyone has bad spells and I've been fishing long enough to have had many of them. For some reason my fishing fortunes descended into the pit a couple of weeks back. Whatever I decided to do was damned from the start. If I wanted to go to the river it poured down. I took the spinning rod down to the coast and huge swells from the south west caused me to turn the car round and go home. If I fancied a spot of carp fishing the cold east wind killed it dead. Mostly, however, it was just fate. The fish simply refused to cooperate. If the bass had been swimming round in a bucket I'd have failed to locate them. Even if I'd managed to find them they would have been asleep.

Of course even the total absence of fish does not make a fishing trip boring (This sounds like the perpetual excuse of angling writers from Izaac Walton to Bernard Venables). My early morning sessions produced the usual sightings of Sika deer (many), badgers, hares and a variety of birds. On one abortive trip to Swanage (the tide was too far out to fish my chosen mark) I saw three swans on the sea. At this time of year the plants are always interesting in Dorset. Carpets of bluebells and (stinking but attractive), wild garlic in the woodland, Orchids and three cornered leeks by the roadside. If I'd managed to get a bite all would have been right with the world.

Yesterday it was bright and sunny (with a chilly wind) and I decided on an afternoon's carp fishing. Despite the cool breeze I opted to fish floaters (well! I enjoy it!). I walked round the reedy end of my chosen lake and threw a few dog biscuits into the margin at strategic spots. The fish were quiet. Eventually I noticed the reeds shaking at one point and I began to fish there. My technique is simple - two or three mixers impaled on a hook, tied direct to the end of my whiplash line. Lay the rod down so that the bait is just dabbling in the reeds at the edge and wait.

The excitement would mount as ripples appeared in the vicinity of my bait. There would be a slurp and a wobble of the rod tip as the unseen fish mouthed the bait then - nothing! The curse seemed to be persisting. After a couple of hours I was down to my last two dog biscuits. I noticed a commotion in the reeds on the far side of the lake and decided to make my final attempt over there. I marked the spot in relation to a distinctive reed stem and crept round, more in hope than expectation. The two remaining mixers were impaled and lowered into the reeds. Within a couple of minutes there was a slurp and the obligatory nodding of the rod - damn! or words to that effect. I hoped that the fish had not got the bait (it was fresh and still rubbery) and decided to leave it where it was. Another minute passed and suddenly the rod dipped smartly and I was into a fish. I could scarcely believe it. After a stout struggle (in which I thought that sod's law dictated that the hook hold was bound to fail) I netted an eighteen pound common. Perhaps I've turned the corner?

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 -

Three swans at Swanage.

For a moment I imagined I was back in Australia.  Until now I'd thought that the only Black Swan in Swanage was the pub..


Purbeck is a fantastic place for these woodland weeds.


I can't stand the smell of this stuff but there is no denying that it makes a good display.


Many different orchids will decorate the verges over the next few months.

A fish!

The feeling of relief as this carp slid into the net was unbelievable.