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).

"More bass on baits and lures.

I freely admit to being a 'cheapskate' when it comes to bait and tackle. I have the bottom shelf in our old garage freezer in which to store my bass baits and these are of two types. Resealable sandwich bags each contain either a mackerel fillet or a head and shoulders (three baits for every mackerel I catch). As a back-up I have bags containing shop-bought sardines. Some of the sardines are whole and others (the biggest ones) are cut across the middle to provide a head and a tail. For a session I take, at most, two bags/baits. It can be a bit disappointing if I lose my bait supply without getting a bite or making a catch but nine times out of ten it's adequate.

After catching a couple of bass myself earlier in the month and then having the bait-fishing trip with my pal Richard, when he caught a nice one of well over seven pounds I wasn't able to go for a few days and we had a bit of a blow. Things calmed down again and I felt the urge to try once more. Following the stir up the sea was calm and clear but much of the local shoreline was several feet deep in loose wrack and kelp. Of course when the tide comes in most of the gullies are full of drifting weed but the bass don't seem to mind and will swim about over the weed searching for something to eat. The weedy conditions never stop me fishing because my freelined baits will usually lie on top of the leathery brown fronds, but it wastes time (critical on my short sessions) and causes a couple of little problems. Firstly the large, exposed hook quite often lodges in the stem or holdfast of a lump of kelp so the bait is not freely available to a fish and secondly, if I get a run weed may catch on the line causing drag which makes the bass drop the bait or enables it to pull it off the hook.

As I've suggested these weed problems are not insurmountable but, if I can, I try to pick stretches where there is less weed washed up to use my freelining tactics. After all the years of fishing in Purbeck I know pretty well where there will be weed free spots to try under most conditions. It's getting dark by about eight o'clock now so a few days ago I decided to have an hour at the coast after we'd had our evening meal. I put some sardine bait (one head one tail) out to thaw while we were eating then, at about seven o'clock, I put on my waders, warm clothes, gloves, hat and head lamp and drove down to the coast. As I walked down to the sea it was still light enough to avoid using the light without stumbling too often (I only use it if I need to tie a hook, land a fish or avoid falling over rocks). My selected pitch was flat calm so I hooked on the head section of my sardine, flicked it out a few metres took a couple of paces back and waited with the line held in my left hand.

It wasn't long before I felt the braid twitch and begin to run through my fingers. The fish was swimming to my right so I pointed the rod in that direction to minimise resistance to its progress and let it go, then it dropped the bait. I waited for a minute or two but the culprit didn't return so I reeled in to find a lump of wrack hanging on the trace knot. I comforted myself by putting down the dropped bait incident to a small fish and/or the drag of the weed. I inspected the bait and it seemd OK so I swung it out again. Ten minutes passed and there was another run. This fish went in exactly the same direction as before and after a while I closed the bale arm. The rod began to pull round but once more the line fell slack. "Oh deary me!" I said (or something like that) and once more reeled in. This time I couldn't think of a decent excuse but the bait was pretty mangled so I threw away its remains and put on the tail of my sardine hooked through the wrist.

Out went the bait again and once more I waited. For a third time I felt the tell tale twitch and the line started to pour from the reel as a bass headed off to my right. I waited until it had gone quite a distance before releasing a metre of loose line while I closed the bale arm. This time there was no mistake as the rod bent and the clutch of my Shimano buzzed. Success! I played the bass back until I could slide it ashore. I took a picture, unhooked the fish (the bait was still on the hook), weighed it (6.25lb) and slid it back into the sea. Time to go home so I slung the piece of sardine in as a freebie for any bass that might still be there.

On my next trip two days later I went at first light and this time tried a weedy gully (just for a change). I fished for about an hour, again with sardine bait, and had one good run which I missed. Three abortive runs out of the last four was pretty bad so I wasn't too happy. As it happened later that day my pal Bill reported that he'd just had a really good session catching twelve bass spinning with Slug-gills and Savage Gear Seeker lures (The latter is surprising as he rarely uses metal lures). Most of his fish were three pounds or less but pretty exciting fishing.

Encouraged by Bill's success and irritated by my missed fish I was keen to give the bait another go. By sheer chance, on the previous day I'd bumped into my long-lost fishing pal Dave Cooling. Now, although we only live a short distance apart,for various reasons it is literally decades since Dave and I fished together. The main reason is that he tends to do quite a lot of wrecking while these days I fish almost exclusively from the shore. Anyway, I was itching to go so later that day I rang Dave and asked if he fancied an hour at the coast - he said "Yes please!"

It was quite exciting to be fishing with Dave again as, in years gone by when more and bigger bass were plentiful, we'd made some memorable catches together. He picked me up at 7:15 p.m., I hurried out, piled my stuff into the car and we set off chattering away ten to the dozen about old times. We'd been driving for a good ten minutes when I suddenly realised that in the excitement I'd left the bait by my front door. Bugger! We turned the car round and set off back to pick up the baits. Half-an-hour later than planned we were walking down to the spot where I'd had my six pounder. I'd set up two rods (one for me and one for Dave - he has lots of gear but wasn't expecting to be going) with my simple circle hook rigs. I'd gone mad on the bait supply (two sardines and two mackerel fillets). We flicked our baits out and stood in the gloom, side by side, nattering about life in general and fishing in particular. Dave had the first bite on his sardine but it didn't develop so we were pretty confident that it wasn't a bass. Since we were late due to my stupid carelessness it was pretty dark when, ten minutes after starting I felt the line snatched from my fingers and zipping out to sea. I said that I had a run so Dave reeled his bait in out of the way. After the fish had gone a good twenty metres I closed the bale and the reel screeched. There were one or two big sploshes out beyond our view as my fish tried to escape but they rarely come unstuck from my 8/0 circle hook. Dave had actually brought a landing net so after a few minutes he slipped it under the bass and drew the fish onto the sloping shore. Fantastic!

It was soon apparent that the fish (pushing nine pounds and in mint condition) was hooked well inside its mouth - deep hooking is very unusual when using circle hooks - so we were in a bit of a panic to get the hook out and release the bass. I grabbed the pliers to remove the hook while Dave held the fish steady. Then I handed Dave my little camera held up the bass, he pressed the button and I quickly plonked the fish back into the sea - off it swam. Then I realised that I hadn't switched the camera flash on. Ah well, can't win them all. I'll put the picture on to show how not to do it. Must go fishing with my talisman Dave again soon.

Six-and-a-quarter pounds of bass nicely hooked.

The tail end of my sardine is still on the hook.

Bill's nice picture of a rock fall on his good trip.

One for the Slug-gill.

... and another for the SG Seeker.

The awful picture of my near nine pounder - you can see its fins.



"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 -