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).

(Mostly) Fishing with Phil

Any "strictly saltwater" anglers reading this will have to forgive me because its a bit of a mixture. Having said that the gear used to catch all the fish was pretty much the same. Anyway, to get to the point, my pal Phil and I have been trying to arrange a joint fishing trip for some time and there was always a reason why one of us couldn't go. Last week we actually managed to fish together so here's a little account of our trips.

Phil mostly goes sea fishing but when he said he was free for a day or two the sea wasn't an option so I suggested that we had a couple of hours on the river trying to catch a seatrout (Well! They DO live in the sea). Phil bought himself a day licence and we met up in the evening. I was using my usual spinning gear with a small jointed Rapala and Phil had similar tackle but decided to use a little Fiiish Black Minnow. He has confidence in the lure for catching bass and we didn't see why it shouldn't work for seatrout. We started off fishing a big weirpool at the top of the stretch and I watched as Phil made a few casts. On his third or fourth retrieve the rod suddenly hooped over and he was in - good start. The fish turned out to be not a seatrout but a brownie of over a pound which he duly landed and returned. We gradually worked our way downstream fishing where we could in the few weed-free areas that were present (jeez it's weedy this year). It was some time before the next fish, a jack pike, took my little Rapala. Again it was photographed and returned. As it turned out the seatrout were not interested (probably the prolonged hot weather) and our last fish was another small pike to Phil's lure. He was quite pleased having never caught a pike before - and the lure was still in one piece.

A few days later Phil phoned and asked me whether I fancied a couple of hours bass fishing from his boat. It's a long time since I tried proper boat fishing so I jumped at the chance. He picked me up and we drove down to the slipway. As we launched the boat he said that we probably only had half-an-hour of bassing at the start as the tide ran over a ledge on the last of the ebb. He was right. We motored up past the broken water running over the ledge and began to fish as we drifted back. Phil chose a surface popper and I was trying a 13cm Rapala with a lip that I'd modified to make it fish very shallow. It wasn't long before Phil was in - and out again. He hooked a bass and it came unstuck. A few minutes later he hooked a second one and once more the fish, a better one, wriggled off the hooks. My big plug remained untouched. Ten minutes later as Phil hooked his third fish I was beginning to get the message so, with the tide easing down to slack water I switched to a Skitterpop lure. It wasn't long before both of us hit bass and this time Phil landed his, a three pounder. Mine dropped off. Phil had one more smaller bass and then with the flow down to nothing the bites stopped.

We hoped to get a short spell as the tide began to run the other way but while we were waiting Phil opted to troll closer to the rocks. I switched to a 9cm black and silver jointed Rapala while Phil tried a couple of feathers. It wasn't long before I had a good bite and landed a decent mackerel which we put into a big plastic bucket of sea water for later use. Then a small bass took my plug and was landed and returned. I cast the plug out again and as I was fiddling with the reel there was another good take which snatched the line from my fingers and came off. Bugger! We motored back to the ledge to have ten minutes before it was time to return to the slipway. Phil tried spinning again while I nicked the very lively mackerel through its upper lip and set it swimmming in search of a bass. Neither of us had a sniff but it had been a wonderful evening with bright sunshine and an oily calm sea.

Having failed to get my pal a seatrout, on the following evening I decided to have a go for them on my own. An hour before dusk found me casting my little Rapala (the same one that caught the mackerel and the bass) into the river. I was fishing exactly where Phil had caught his trout a few days earlier. First chuck there was a big splash and a sploosh out in the middle of the pool and my reel began to screech. Seatrout! I played it for a few minutes until I had it down below where I stood - a metre above deep water. I should have said earlier that my old "fishing" car was in for a service, as a result I'd left my long handled net, which usually stays in the car, at home. Silly man! How was I to land a three pound plus seatrout from up there? I realised that if I could pass my rod under the little bridge which crossed the top of the pool I'd be able to climb down onto the dry apron of the weir and pick the fish up. I lay on my belly and passed the butt of the rod round a metal stanchion so I could grab it with my left hand. I switched it to the right hand and slid sideways until I was at the far side of the bridge. I passed the rod back to my left and then realised that my right arm was now firmly stuck, I couldn't pull it out of the narrow gap under the bridge. Having recently recovered from a severe case of 'housemaids elbow' in the same, wedged arm I was a little apprehensive of repeating the injury. It was probably only a couple of minutes before I managed to extract the offending limb by tugging, pulling and twisting but it seemed like an age. Phew! I scrambled over the fence and lowered myself onto the concrete apron. The unfortunate fish was still attached so I took its picture before releasing it. Success!

A few days later we had a spot of rain and it was a big spring tide. Now I'd just been reading the seatrout anglers bible written many years ago by Hugh Falkus. To be honest the book was mainly about spate rivers and didn't say much about spring-fed, weedy watercourses like the ones here in Dorset so I didn't feel that it was very relevant to me, except that apparently "it was often best to fish around dusk and that the fish often came into the river on spring tides after rain." So, I thought I'd give it a go. I arrived at the river about 20:30 hr just as the light was failing and began to cast my little plug. On almost my first cast I hooked a lively, fresh run, two pounder which typically leapt from the water time and again. I took its picture and moved on downstream fishing as I went until I came to the tail of a wide pool which has produced for me in the past. By now it was 21:15 and really dark. I fanned my casts across the pool allowing the plug to swing back across before retrieving. Each cast was a little further than the previous one so that I covered all the water. On about my sixth attempt I began to wind the plug back under my own bank. I could feel it vibrating the tip of the rod, it stopped, there was a big swirl and the reel screeched as a cracking fish took the lure and set off downstream at warp speed. Downstream of my stance the bank was lined with a forest of two metre high nettles so I could no longer see where the line went. I had to follow the fish down to avoid becoming snagged on the bankside vegetation. I held the rod high and as I forced my way through the stingers I could hear the fish splashing and crashing about. After a long yomp I came to a gap, so I could now get to the bank-top. The seatrout was still attached and at last I had a degree of control. I played the fish to a standstill until it was laying, wrapped in weeds, in the water below the rod tip. It was a beauty - by far my best one this season up to now. What could I do? Still no net (I should know better at my age but there you go). I lay the rod down and took hold of the line. I slid my hand down to the nylon trace. With a bit of luck I should be able to lift the fish vertically the metre or so to the bank top. I heaved, it was half way up, then it fell off. I was gutted. I walked back to the car in the dark muttering about how stupid I was. In retrospect I should have led the fish downstream another hundred metres until I could slide it ashore in the shallows but, in the dark and highly excited I just didn't think clearly - that's one for the memory banks.

After my fiasco with the big trout I had my car (and the net) back again so I decided to go spinning (with the same Rapala) on the Stour at dawn. It was very poor and I never had a bite for over half-an-hor then I hooked a ? pike which shot away taking line before coming off. Another long wait before I was into a two pound chub which had a very nasty, recent scar on its flank - cormorant? I took a couple of pictures of the chub before releasing it then apart from two or three nippy bites from perch I had nothing before the rain drove me home for breakfast.

Phil's trout - a good start. Note the Black Minnow in its mouth.

My jack on the Rapala.

Phil's first pike.

Phil into a bass on an idyllic evening.

Nice one Phil.

a lovely seatrout - but no net.

Landed after my tricky bridge bypass manoeuvre - note the strange oval scar.

A beautiful seatrout caught after a drop of rain.

The chub nicely hooked on my plug.

Same chub showing the scar.



"Fishing for Ghosts - Successful Mullet Angling"

written with David Rigden IT'S AVAILABLE FROM - "The Medlar Press"


“The Second Wave”

Written with Steve Pitts this is a SEQUEL TO THE BESTSELLER "Operation Sea Angler" IT'S AVAILABLE ON PAPER OR FOR YOUR KINDLE FROM - "Veals Mail Order" and from Amazon "Amazon"

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 -