Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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SEA FISHING

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).

Non-fishing down under.

We've just visited our son Dan and his family who now live in Western Australia. Although I didn't expect to do much fishing on the family holiday I took a rod, a reel and a few lures with me - just in case.

WA is a very large place and although we were based in the suburbs of Perth we did a fair bit of travelling and wherever we went I was constantly on the lookout for people fishing. There is little doubt that sea angling is BIG over there and the tackle shops that I visited were generally well stocked, particularly with lures (which seemed pretty cheap) and beachcasting gear. Also, cafes, restaurants and other eating places all make a big thing of the local freshly caught fish, often with displays of snapper, emperor, catfish (cobbler) and other popular food species and in one instance large aquarium tanks containing many local species of sea fish. The WA government produces a free, 54 page recreational fishing guide which is a mine of information for anglers but a quick flick through the pages shows that it is mainly directed at boat angling with details of licences, daily bag limits, individual size and number limits, boat limits and rules on possession of fish and even of bits of fish. The booklet includes details and colour pictures of about eighty species. In addition to the fishing regulations there is total protection of many sharks, sting rays, crabs, lobsters and molluscs. There are many protected areas and reserves and illegal sale of fish may invoke fines of up to $80,000 (about 40,000). Shore fishing on the other hand is pretty well free and unlicenced apart from a few protected areas.

Most of the shore anglers I came across were fishing from piers and jetties, these are often large and were clearly designed with fishing in mind. It is common for them to be equipped with angling platforms, bait boards and fish cleaning facilities along the piers. As in the UK anglers often congregated around the end of each jetty and the methods used were nothing out of the ordinary, to be honest the gear was usually pretty crude. Squid were a popular quarry (both for food and bait)and often the 'spare rod' would be fitted with a squid jig and used to fill in time while waiting for bites on baited gear. I didn't see any squid caught but I had a couple which followed my Toby and the inky splodges which decorated the walkways showed that catches of these molluscs were, at times, numerous. Paternostering with chunks of fish or squid as bait was also a common practice and a few anglers float fished (sometimes using balloons) with larger baits apparently hoping for big fish (perhaps sharks?). There was rarely any attempt to cut bait into streamlined or fishlike shapes. I saw nothing of any size caught by anyone and by far the commonest attacks on bait seemed to be from small puffer fish ('blowies') which are numerous, aggressive and certainly effective bait robbers.

There were many smaller jetties and I managed an hour's evening fishing on one in the Swan River near Perth. Local kids were fishing with bait (fish or prawn)and catching the occasional puffer fish. I was told that small sharks were a common catch at night. I found that even quite large soft plastics were soon attacked by shoals of puffers. These fish have teeth a bit like tiny wire cutters and the plastic was desroyed by even a couple of bites. Eventually I resorted to tactics which could only be described as LRF using a tiny Gotam Shad. This was a success in as much as I managed to catch a puffer but of course the lure was wrecked in the process. At this point I packed in disgusted and went for my dinner.

The only decent fish that I saw hooked during my trip was on a visit to Jurien Bay. Anglers fishing from the local jetty told me that there was a possibility of catching tailor (bluefish) from the adjacent beach. That evening I tackled up the spinning rod and set off on the two mile walk along the sand to the predicted 'hot spot'. For an hour, as dusk fell, I spun with a Toby and a Redgill but I had no bites. Meanwhile a local chap had driven his 'ute' onto the beach and was beachcasting with a grip lead and a chunk of fish for bait. By this time it was pretty dark and I was about to 'give them best' so I wandered along towards the other angler to ask if he'd had anything. As I approached I could see that his rod was well bent and giving the occasional kick to suggest that he was into a fish. Not wanting to interfere (there's nothing worse than assisting someone that you don't know to lose a fish). Soon I could hear the occasional slapping noise as the fish on his line arrived in shallow water. I watched as he slid a ten pound stingray towards the beach. I cringed as he heaved the line by hand against the undertow. Finally I commiserated as the trace pinged and the fish swam away. Apparently the normal catch from that stretch of beach is small sharks and rays. Bluefish are present but "I ought to have been there last week" - where have I heard that before?

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 - docladle@hotmail.com

A seafront bar with a fishing flavour.

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WA Fishing Guide. Note the web address that I scribbled on it.

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Pages of the guide giving catch limits - there are many more.

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Anglers near the end of Busselton pier. The balloon is a float. Nothing was caught.

They never sit still to have their pictures taken.

Busselton pier. The arrow shows the position of the underwater viewing tank..

They never sit still to have their pictures taken.

Pier end! Seen from the observation tank this looks like a shoal of small bluefish to me

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Blowie! This puffer was the only fish I saw caught from the pier.

They never sit still to have their pictures taken.

Swan River Jetty. No one was catching anything although I was told that stingrays are numerous.

I gave spinning a try but puffers were a nuisance.

Small puffers made short work of my Savagegear eel.

A tiny Berkley shad was sacrificed to catch a puffer.

This chap hooked (and lost) the only decent fish I saw - a modest stingray.

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