Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

Information Page


12 May 2004


I think that I've mentioned before the lack of surface feeding mullet in the past few years. For a long time maggot-feeding thicklips outnumbered bass by an order of magnitude along my local shoreline. Of course mullet do still turn up on the top of the summertime springs but many more bass, mostly schoolies, are caught by the growing band of fly anglers. This is not simply because the anglers are using streamer flies as opposed to artificial maggots (although they are). The number of opportunities to surface fish for grey mullet has simply diminished.

Anyway, to come to the point. Last weekend (on the early springs) when I was out bass fishing in the early morning I noticed a couple of piles of rotting weed along the shore. A quick scrape of the boot revealed that there were millions of maggots in the weed. On my return walk, just after high water, I saw groups of mullet picking the maggots off the water surface. I cast a fly to one or two shoals but the fish were incredibly wary. As the cast straightened above their heads there would be an almighty splash as the entire shoal dispersed and disappeared. Waste of time!

I noted the spots and resolved to return on a bigger tide, a few days later, in the evening. I arrived at about 18.00 hr just as the last of the holidaymakers were leaving. It was about an hour before high water but the fish were there before me. On the first weed pile there was nothing but the second was well endowed with feeding mullet - and good ones. I tied on a foam maggot on a size 12 hook and baited it with four shop-bought maggots. The fish were much bolder than on the previous occasion and it was only a few minutes before I had a good pull - and missed it. Encouraged I crept to the waters edge (it was flat calm) and sat on a boulder to keep off the skyline. The second bite was not long in coming and this time the fish was on but after a long powerful run it came unstuck. Was it going to be one of those evenings?

My next bite was well hooked and after fifteen minutes play on the six-pound nylon cast I was able to beach a three-and-a-half pounder, fat as butter and in mint condition. Having taken my pictures and unhooked and returned the fish I was pleased to find that the shoals were still feeding. After five minutes of fruitless casting I decided to change to a woodlouse fly in the hope of attracting a bass. Second cast I was in and this time the fish fought even harder than the first. It seemed an age before I was able to steer my catch between the boulders and lift it from the water. This time, after the formalities, the fish had gone, so I began to walk back. At the other weed pile there were quite a lot of small (1lb) mullet still feeding right in the edge but a few casts revealed that there was too much surface weed to be able to fish. Anyway, two decent fish in a session was good enough. The next morning the forecast gales were blowing so I shall have to wait 'til the next springs for another go.

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 -

Weed pile.

This was the one that I caught the fish by.


Floating on the calm surface the little wriggling maggots attracted lots of good mullet.


Any sign of angler or fly line and away they go.

Feeding well.

The fish are skimming the surface with snouts and eyes showing.  I would try to cast the fly into the group top-right of the picture..

My first fish.

This one fought like hell and was well hooked in the lip.


The fly and maggots are clearly visible.

My five pounder.

Actually a bit over five - this one took the woodlouse imitation.  To be honest I should have stuck to the maggot fly as there were no bass feeding.