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).

Where's Mike?

Followers of my Saltwater pages (there are a few) will be aware that it's a while since I posted anything. Contrary to popular opinion I'm not dead. The lapse is partly because I've been pretty busy, partly because I'm a lazy old so and so but mostly because I've not been catching anything significant from the sea and no one wants to read about non-catches. Anyway, I have (at last) caught a few fish so I'll bring you up to date.

What I didn't say is that I'm a very persistent sort of angler and a few (lot of) blanks don't deter me from my objective. The story begins a couple of years back when I began freelining with deadbaits for bass. My usual approach was to go down to the coast just after low water, lay a big fish-bait in the edge, wait for the tide to cover it and (hopefully) for the bass to find it. The tactic was incredibly successful with quite a few bites, few blanks and some really good bass caught. After easing off on the successful approach for a while I decided, at the beginning of this season, to try my freelining approach more or less exclusively to find out whether it worked at every state of the tide and sea conditions. It didn't. In fact, apart from a few furtive plucks from who knows what (I use an 8/0 circle hook so small fish have little chance of taking it) I've had two stonking runs from ?good bass? and missed them both. The only consolation in my failure was the fact that, apart from a couple of good sessions, my pals who are excellent lure anglers haven't done very well either.

The first signs of an improvement (for me) came in July. As usual I'd decided to try free-lining with a mackerel head-and-shoulders. It was the last of the ebb so I was up at dawn and walked along to a rocky bay where seaweed collects and Idotea (woodlice) gather to feed on it. As I arrived I could see the tails of decent bass waving above the surface as they guzzled the little crustaceans. I lowered my bait as close to a fish as I dared and waited. Nothing happened so after ten or fifteen minutes I decided to move the bait a few metres in case it was buried or hidden. As I reeled in it felt as though there was weed on the bait but when it was lifted from the water it was covered in a thick layer of Idotea. Most of the animals fell off as I lifted the bait from the water. For the next half hour I tried to tempt a bass but despite the fact that there were a number of fish showing - nothing! Eventually I packed in and went home biteless - very frustrating.

It was a while later when my pal Nigel announced that there were some mackerel in on the Chesil bank and asked if I fancied a go for them. In fact on the previous evening Nigel and his son had caught lots of mackerel and several bass fishing the evening tide. Now I hardly ever venture as far west as the Chesil but I was in the mood to try anything to break my lean spell, so I said yes please. The next evening as we trudged over the crest of the shingle it was obvious that the fish were in. Gulls were squabbling for sprats along much of the water's edge and gannets were already diving close in. We began to fish and almost at once Nige had a mackerel. At the sight of this potential big-bass bait I couldn't resist clipping on a big circle hook to try a freelined livebait. I nicked the mackerel through the snout and set it free to swim where it would. For an-hour-and-a-half I stood as the bait searched in vain for a bass; meanwhile my mate proceeded to catch mackerel one after the other.

Eventually the sight of all these fish was too much so I swapped the livebait trace for a single-hooked silver Toby and joined in catching mackerel. I'd almost forgotten how much fun it can be to catch fish on lures. At first we had good sized mackerel but as dusk approached the average fish became smaller and were joined by small scad and even one or two pollack. We were so busy that I didn't take any pictures but it was very enjoyable.

Encouraged by feeling fish on the line I had a few more fruitless deadbaiting sessions in July. My pal Bill who was spinning the same stretch of coastline managed to blank for the rest of the month as I did myself. The first week in August suggested that things might be changing. One or two schoolies fell to lures fished from the shore and another friend of mine, Phil, managed a double figure bass on a live pollack. The other evening my neighbour Martyn and myself decided to have an hour lure fishing from a local stretch of shingle (a bit closer to home than the Chesil). We arrived at the shore at about 19:50hr. I was using a large white Slandra (one of my home made hybrid lures) and Martyn had on a Redgill type lure. As we walked to the water's edge we could see that it was fairly rough and that there was a good deal of loose weed drifting in the sea. I stood for a few seconds and looked at the water; there was a swirl ten metres out straight ahead of where I was standing. Out went the Slandra and I began to retreive. Wallop! The rod bowed and I was into a bass. Martyn lay down his gear and came to take a picture as I unhooked the fish and returned it. As he returned to start fishing I was in again and then the same thing happened for a third time. Meanwhile Martyn's Redgill hadn't produced a bite so he changed it for a fish-shaped, white and silver, metal lure. Now we were both catching.

In the course of the next hour-and-twenty-minutes we landed and returned at least twenty two bass (we slightly lost count) - the best one of about seven pounds with a couple not much smaller. We also had four mackerel and a pollack all on Martyn's metal jig. All in all it was a very good session. It'll no doubt be back to the dead baits next week - I really am a glutton for punishment.

Idotea feeding on loose weed.

Most of the 'woodlice' had already dropped off by the time I took this picture.

Martyn bends into a fish on his metal lure.

A nice fat bass on the metal.

... and one on my Slandra (now the worse for wear).

Martyn's best fish of the session.

My pal unhooks his bass before putting it back.

Not our biggest bass but you can see I was pleased.



"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 -