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).

Tatty bass.

I just had a couple of emails from my epal Eoghan in the Emerald Isle. Heís just been on his regular trip down to the south-west Ė but Iíll let him tell the tale-

Hi Mike .

Just back from Kerry. Tough times. Few bass, ragged and seemingly post spawn..? So many follows it would drive you mad.

I have decided that after the weekend Iím going to take up the fly properly. A fly fisherman was clearing up down there on small thin sandeel imitations.

Is it the slim profile.., the length of the lure, ,the vertical position of the lure or the pause that is given to the lure on stripping that induces the bass to take..?

Who knows..! Anyway this is the report:

So our annual Bass trip to Kerry in May. Frequently unpredictable in a month that can throw anything at you. We have fished the same area now for 17 years, twice a year for 4 days at a time. The plan was to arrive there Thursday afternoon and fish until Sunday afternoon. We got there about 2 pm and literally dropped the bags off and sped off to a mark just 5 minutes up the road. Low water on the flood, gin clear and sunny. Not great! Tried all the lures I had bought over the winter, and believe me there were a lot. Did have one rattle and one follow from a small bass, approx 2Ib. That was about it.

Packed up and headed to the estuary. Found a nice spot on a rock, good vantage point to the rough ground in front of me. Casting the lure past this and bringing it in carefully between the seaweed and boulders has been good to me in the past. After about an hour a large trout jumped to my right. The next cast I see 3 large trout following the lure, approx 4lb apiece..! Infuriating..! Fish seemed to be hesitant to take.

A quick bite to eat around 7 and out to a rock mark that never lets me down approx 2 hours after high water. The mark is ideal, a set of submerged rocks either side of sandy ground. Three casts in and stopÖ..lure grabbed, rod buckles and the fish is on. I can tell itís not big but I am desperate to land the fish after the earlier sessions. I get the schoolie to the edge of the water and it comes off. Luckily the wave receded at the right time and I knelt in front of the fish to stop it getting away. Just a pup, in ragged condition as were all of the bass this weekend. All around 2Ib mark, thin, fins torn or split etc.. results of spawning..? Thatís our guess anyway. Would have thought they were too small to spawn. Anyway quick photo and released, delighted to get a fish notched up.

The rest of the weekend will read like groundhog day so I will spare you the details. Bass and trout follows all over the place. I tried the smallest thinnest lures I could. Stripped soft plastics down, cut them in half etc, but to no avail. They just werenít bothered. Some of the lads left the shore and hit an offshore reef to get amongst fish, pollack etc, and some nice fish too.

The weather was a mixed bag but ultimately the wind changed direction and flattened out the coastline on us. Not ideal but we have had Bass here in flat calm warm sunny days so not a deal breaker either. My bass was taken on a rough night, clear water but great swell.

We fished some serious hours. I would say on average 12 hours per day. Covered lots of ground, every mark we could. We know the place backwards. My mate Steve on Saturday tried an old favourite spot of mine, a deep gully that I have caught lots of bass from in the past. Using a feed shallow he took a small schoolie. Again the fish in tatters. Released as usual. Stephen glad to get a bass under his belt with time running out.

We had a few more sessions but blanked. We did try one bait session on the last night to an old reliable mark we have never blanked onÖ..until now..! Couldnít believe it. Plenty of flounders but no Bass..??!! Thatís our 16 year record gone on this mark. Very strange.

So the fishing was tough but Kerry as ever was breathtaking. Itís my happy place without doubt. The fishing, the scenery, the people, the Guinness etc etc..

As ever some lessons learned, notes taken, new marks tried out. We did find a brilliant shallow off shore reef stuffed with pollack so thatís a bonus.

I will be back down in 4 weeks time with the wife Ďn kids, there will be an Illex and some lures in the car too..!

Eoghan Lynch

I replied:-

Hi Eoghan,

Thanks for the detailed report - fascinating stuff! Why weren't the fish biting? It's hard to believe that they would take flies and not lures. I guess that my first thought is that it sounds as though they were mostly small fish and might be easier to hook on flies. Also, at this time of the year, in Dorset, they often feed on tiny sandeels so they might, as you suggest have a 'search image' for these little chaps. I guess that at the end of the day you were just unlucky.

You may have seen from my BLOG that I recently broke my own 'drought' with a 67cm fish (7.5lb) that took a big soft plastic lure in shallow water. I've also missed a couple of bites from decent fish, again right in the edge of the sea among loads of drifting kelp. My pals have been having a fairly slow time too but the fish that have been caught were mostly of good size and in fair nick. (I've attached a few pictures). I'd expect the bigger fish to spawn first and as you say the ones you looked at sound a bit on the small side to have been breeding. Could they have suffered from the rough winter weather close inshore? I suppose you don't know what was in the guts? Did they cough anything up when you landed them?

All speculation I'm afraid. Would it be OK to use your report on my website please? We might get some feed back from others who have been fishing down your way. Next time!!!!!!

All the best,


Hi Mike,

Lovely, fish. The first pic. with the conditions you were fishing in look great.

Someone has suggested net damage with our fish..? Itís possible. Also someone suggested one of the fish may have damaged fins from foraging in shallow water over a reef, again possible.

I also think they are too small to spawn and hence we were getting these schoolies and not any decent sized fish. We donít keep any bass so no idea of stomach contents.

Now itís the fly angle that really boggled me. My brother in law and his friend were 20 feet away from him on a rocky mark. This guy had 6 bass and they had none.

They were fishing over similar ground, random rocks and seaweed so I canít say it was a gully or defining feature that this guy had in his favour.

They tried every lure under the sun and believe me I reckon we have most of them..! ? They could even see the fish at times.

The Bass were taking a green and white 2-3 inch thin sandeel pattern which could be the key. This mark though is stuffed with crabs, shrimp, tiny flounder etc. but as we both know sometimes bass can be fixated on one prey item. This guy had 19 bass over the week all on the fly. The area is stuffed with small baitfish but also some of the 5-6 Inch eels.

Also the fly, by its very nature, would remain stationery and vertical for longer than a heavier soft plastic or small metal lure. Who really knows.

Would love to see what some other people think so by all means feel free to post it Mike.



Well, there you have it. Looking at the pictures at least three of the four schoolies are in a poor condition. Has anyone else encountered tatty little bass this year? It would be interesting to throw some light on the problem.

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 -

Bass 1.

Tatty first dorsal.

Bass 2.

Tatty pelvics and second dorsal.

Bass 3.

Tatty pelvics.

Bass 4.

Can't see anything wrong with this one.