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).

Antigua antics 1.

Have you ever had one of those spells when everything seemed to go wrong? Of course you have! You know - you miscast, you can't buy a bite, fish come unstuck, big fish defeat you - we've all experienced it. Anyway, my recent trip to Antigua with my fishing pal Steve was a bit like that. I have to be honest, the place is a picture, the weather was fantastic, there was a great range of interesting spots to fish, the house we stayed in, close to the Jolly Harbour resort, was superb and overlooked a brackish lagoon. We sat round the swimming pool and watched ospreys catching fish, peregrine falcons chasing egrets and American kestrels performing courting displays as well as seeing tarpon roll in the lake - perfection! An angler's idyll you might think but for the first week we didn't catch a single fish between us.

Before we went we'd gathered information from our friends (who'd visited before) about the fish that were available but, of course, it's never exactly the same. I always reckon that you shouldn't expect too much the first time you go anywhere, it's more in the nature of a recce really. So, if we went again I'm sure we would do much better. Anyway lets get down to the fishing in case anyone reading this is fancying a Caribbean holiday.

Antigua is a strange little island. The most striking feature is probably the series of brackish, mangrove fringed lagoons that are scattered all along the coast. Most if not all of these lagoons hold fish. My epal Tony Cook has done well with large snook and tarpon in the big Galley Bay lagoons near Hawksbill. However, we found that the security on that resort is now impregnable and we could no longer gain access without residing there. The lagoon outside our villa seemed to be stocked with tiny tarpon which, although they were free biters, didn't get much bigger than perhaps five pounds. Of course they provide fantastic sport on 'trout' fly gear but fly fishing was virtually impossible unless you were prepared to wade through stinking mud (there is certainly drainage from the lakeside houses adding to the mire) and hack your way through dense mangroves. I did it once and had some exciting battles as a result. Otherwise we had to try spinning from the few narrow gaps in the mangrove covered margin.

On our first evening we went to Darkwood Lagoon, a much bigger pond containing decent tarpon. Steve geared up with a big, soft plastic fish and the tarpon loved it. On almost his first cast he jumped a thirty pounder and over the next half hour the lure tempted four more bites - none of them stayed attached!. It was very promising but over the next two weeks we tried the lagoon several times and only the first evening was hectic. However, I later discovered that by tweeking a soft plastic Slandra or Sluggo along the margin I could tempt fish to bite. Despite the discovery the nearest I came to landing one was when a very large snook took at my feet thrashed about on the surface and came off. I think I said "BOTHER!" or something similar.

I'll post more fishing anecdotes shortly but for now I'll just say that, as well as lagoons, Steve and I explored all sorts of places from harbours to flats to reefs to deep rocky marks to sandy beaches. We caught a variety of fish as well as losing a few and having some heart stopping moments. Watch this space!

Jolly Harbour.

Far too many boats, piers, docks and houses for comfortable fishing although we saw good tarpon, snook, snapper and mullet as we walked round.

Typical beach.

The fine white sand often turned the sea a milky blue colour.


This was by far the easiest spot to fish from in our local lagoon.


There were extensive flats in Cade's Bay. The bottom ranged from mud and turtle grass to coral rubble.

Deep water.

Near Pelican Island we found access to very deep water.

American kestrel.

This one often sat on a pole at the bottom of our garden.

He's in!

Steve playing a small tarpon in 'our' lagoon.  They all pulled the string a bit and jumped a lot.


Even at this stage there's no guarantee the fish will come to hand.


Steve looks a bit dishevelled but clearly relieved to have landed such a lovely little fish.  We each had a few.


This is my first ever tlapia on the fly.  It was landed after an assault course through mangroves and mud to do some fly fishing.

Tarpon fodder.

The larger tarpon liked Steve's big rubber fish but didn't stay hooked.