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).

Nice bass.

After a week of fairly blustery weather the forecast was for a relatively calm morning so I decided that it might be worth trying a spot of free-lining for bass. Of course it doesn't HAVE to be FLAT calm but a stiff onshore or longshore breeze combined with weed in the water can make it pretty uncomfortable and difficult to keep in touch with a virtually weightless bait. I checked the tide tables and the surf predictions for my local spots and set the alarm clock so that I could get started before first light.

I took two spinning rods with me. One was the old 4Surespin armed with 30lb Whiplash a shortish trace of 20lb, clear Amnesia and a 6/0 Varivas Circle hook snelled to the end of the trace. My bait was a side of mackerel lightly hooked through the thin end of the fillet. The other rod was my Teklon, with its Mitchell reel, 15lb Nanofil and a Pearl Evo Redgill - just in case!!!. I hiked along to the spot I intended fishing and was joined by another angler who was going to spin in the same area. After the fifteen minute walk we began to fish. I dumped the spare rod and my bag on a high, dry rock, flicked the mackerel bait out a few yards into the darkness and sat holding the rod with the bale arm open. For half an hour or so neither of us had a bite. A couple of times I had to retreat up the shore as the small but splashy waves began to wet my jacket.

By now the first light was beginning to show in the east so in the absence of a bite I decided to walk back and try a gulley about half way to the car. Wrong! When I got to the intended spot I found a photographer had beaten me to it. His camera, on its tripod, was focussed on exactly where I'd intended fishing. Bugger! I plodded on looking for another suitable bait fishing place. I was almost back to the cliff path when I came across a nice little strip of gritty sand. The edge of the sea, roiled by a half metre swell, was lined with a border of loose kelp but the weed only extended half-a-rod's length out. I put the gear well above the reach of the tide, walked to the sea and lobbed the mackerel fillet out five metres or so into the murky water. Now I stood with the little waves breaking over the feet of my waders holding the line above the swell. It was pretty easy fishing because there was little or no wind to tug at the braid.

A couple of times I had to tighten the line a little but each time I opened the bale and held the loop of loose braid in my left hand. After perhaps ten minutes I felt a gentle tap on my index finger. Was it drifting weed or could it have been a small fish? No, there it was again, definitely something interested in the bait. As the thought formed in my mind the line began to run through my finger and thumb and coils slipped off the spool. A fish! A bass! As the line went faster and faster I knew that I had a 'customer'. Let it go, five seconds, ten seconds, now the line was pouring out at speed. I dropped the rod tip towards the fish and gently closed the bale arm so as not to alarm the bass with any sudden jerks. Now it was the moment of truth. The rod began to bend as the braid tightened. It was on and the clutch screamed as a good fish hit the accelerator.

My check was set quite tightly but it had no effect on the bass which simply continued on a powerful run out to sea. ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty metres and it was still taking line. Eventually the pressure began to tell and with a series of strong pulls and powerful thrashing swirls I drew the fish closer. Sure enough it was a beauty and when I eventually slid it ashore it measured 79cm and weighed 12.5lb in old money. I stuck my fist into its mouth to remove the hook and after a few pictures I swished it about in the sea until it was strong enough to swim away. Fantastic!

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 -

Nice bass.

The big hook was just inside the mouth of the bass.


I had to crop this one because the flash reflected on the bottom of the picture.