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).

2020 was a funny year, wasn't it? ALL THE BEST FOR 2021

This is a short update on the fishing in 2020. We started off with a visit to our son Dan and his family in Australia and returned just in time to be thrust into the Covid 19 business. Fortunately it wasn't too long until everyone was allowed to go fishing (suitably distanced). Of course common sense prevented any travelling with pals and much of our fishing was loner stuff; however, I'm a miserable old sod so it wasn't too much trouble (but I will be pleased to have a trip or two with my mates if we survive it). Despite all the problems we often manage to exchange information via the internet and it's always a bonus to get an email from keen fishing friends - whether they live next door or in New Zealand:-

A picture taken on one of my (very few) joint sessions at the coast with Bill and Nigel.

My next door neighbour and good fishing mate Martyn; on one of our trips, spinning from the beach.

My friend Alan Bulmer in New Zealand with a fine kahawai. He's just as keen as I am. For a good read look at his BLOG - "Active Angling New Zealand"

One of Nigel's cracking mullet.

Bill with a bass caught on a soft-bait.

Another of Bill's bass and a shot of his gear (a bit smarter than the stuff I use).

For me, fishing in Australia is a bit limited. Dan lives in Perth but not near enough to the water for me to do my usual hour's dabbling in the morning or evening. So, it is only on the odd occasion that I get to the Swan River to dangle a lure. On one afternoon out with the family I did manage half-an-hour of spinning and my lure tempted a little spiky 'trumpeter'. A new species for me.

The Swan River estuary.

A yellowtail trumpeter.

While we were away, all of us (inlaws, children, grandchildren) went for a short holiday in the seaside town of Busselton. Most mornings, before breakfast, I walked to the long, sandy beach and tried spinning. The lures produced nothing, but I saw a few fish in the clear water. So, during my last couple of days, I went to the pier and snatched a couple of squid on a newly purchased jig. At first light on my last morning, legering bits of squid from the beach proved very productive, and produced crabs, 'whiting', 'herring' and rays - simply proving that I should have bought a squid jig sooner.

Bait at last.

Blue-manna crabs like squid.

A 'herring' - given more time it would have been bait.

A yellow finned whiting. (more potential bait?)

A fiddler ray.

.A nice eagle ray and the best battle of my trip.

For a change I did no carp fishing at all this year, and the coarse fishing in local rivers wasn't given the usual attention either. I did have a few goes and managed a couple of chub and some modest perch and pike, mostly on small lures. I also caught a few dace and grayling on maggots. The highlights of my hours wandering the river banks, were when I almost trod on a duck's nest full of eggs and a massive grayling (3.5lb) which was caught by my pal Adrian, quite late in the year. The lowlight was when I lost a pike (one of the biggest I've ever seen) at the net while seatrout fishing with a tiny lure.

The duck's nest with nine eggs. I saw them a few times after they hatched.

A plugged chub.

... and a perch.

... and another perch.

... and a pike.

Adrian's monster grayling.

The bulk of my river fishing was dedicated to seatrout. I stuck to my plan of action developed over the past few years, and mostly used a small, jointed, buoyant Rapala. I always had a short wire trace in case of pike and it didn't seem to make too much difference to the fish whether I fished in daylight or after dark. These little plugs are just about the right size for the seatrout. They tempt fish of all sizes and they work over the top of everything but the shallowest snags and weeds. On the whole it was successful, with very few blanks and a fair number of the target species - although nothing really big enough to write home about. I had a couple of sessions when I took pals along (always travelling in separate cars). Phil, who I mostly see at the seaside, had the magic touch and landed both seatrout and salmon when he gave it a go.

My good friend and ex-colleague Terry Gledhill came down from his home in the north for a visit and, to my surprise and enjoyment, he dropped by and gave me a six-piece Grey's spinning rod which he didn't need. The rod proved to be just the job for use on the river and was "christened" with multiple seatrout on its first outing. It has surprised me how many salmon I catch, by accident, when I'm seatrout fishing, particularly since the numbers of salmon have dropped so dramatically in the past decade or two. Of course it's hardly surprising that they take lures round about the end of their season in August, as they always became much more aggressive and easier to catch late in the year. However, it is often a little disappointing when a salmon (however fresh run or large it may be) takes a lure that wasn't intended for it.

A modest seatrout on the rod I was given by Terry.

A bit better one.

One in the dark for me.


..and more.

..and more.

..and more.

... and yet another one .

Another seatrout caught by Phil.

... and a (first) salmon for Phil.

An in-season nuisance salmon on the seatrout lure.

This big, old, out-of-season, male fish caused me lots of problems in the dark before I could return it to the river.

This season's sea angling was a bit mixed. Most of us had a number of bass on lures but the mullet were often thin-on-the-ground, and good 'maggot tides' were rare indeed. Whenever it looked like being a good series of tides the weather changed or the fish decided to go elsewhere. I opted, early in the year, to resort to bait fishing whenever I had the chance, and on the whole it was a successful ploy. Of course there were a few blanks but decent bass came often enough to make it feel worthwhile.

As I say, I gave the free-line, circle-hook, bait-fishing tactics in shallow water another persistant try. You might not think that the pictured, flat-calm, gin-clear conditions were any good for catching bass - but they can be! (and were).

...again the approach produced some decent fish in my short sessions .

Day-time and in the dark...

... time

...after time

...after time

Plus a few odds and sods.

I did a bit of lure fishing too - here I'm into a nice bass on a weedless soft plastic.

Grandson Ben went a couple of times and here he spins a tide race one early morning.

Tide race bass on an Evostx lure.

What a sunrise. Worth going even without any fish.

So much for 2020. Let's hope that 2021 is a bit easier to manage and that the fish cooperate whatever tactics you prefer to use. All the best to everyone - Mike.



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Written with David Rigden. Copies from "The Medlar Press"


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