Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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01 June 2004

The 'fly' has it!

Following my session with the sandeel-feeding bass the other morning I went back to try and catch some more maggot feeders from the lone weed pile that I had found during an earlier trip. I arrived at about 20.00hr, the tide was well on the way in but there was no sign of fish. The sea was flat calm so there was no swell to disturb the weed. While I was waiting I chucked a few armfulls of stinking weed into the sea and soon had a decent slick of maggots drifting away on the rising tide. It was not long before I saw a swirl or two on the surface so I picked up the fly rod - armed with a 'Glass Minnow' purchased from the Orvis shop in Dorchester. I hardly ever buy flies of any sort but I just fancied the look of this one.

Third or fourth cast amongst the maggot feeders and I was into a fish. It made the reel click a little bit but it was clearly a small bass and I soon landed it. As usual the pictures, unhooking etc. took a while (why do they always jump about just when you're going to press the shutter release?) and by the time I put this one back there were loads of fish gobbling up the maggots. Another couple of casts and I was in again. This one took more line and it was a while before I could beach it - excellent!

Pictures, unhooking, return the fish and back to the water full of confidence. I saw a decent fish move on the surface and cast to it (unusual - I generally just trust to luck). Immediately it took the fly and careered away out to sea. What a tussle. Twice I was down to the backing and on several occasions just as I thought "Here it comes!" it rocketed away again. In the ten minutes before I saw it I thought "This is a really good bass!" but when it was eventually wallowing in the swell at the edge I could see the tell-tale dark stripes - a four pound mullet. I have to say that it's not the first time that I've been fooled by mullet. They are such dogged fighters that unless you see them it's possible to think you have hooked a much larger fish. In fact my pal Adrian Pinder tells me that he had a six pounder on the fly a couple of days earlier and although it fought for a long while it did not make any substantial runs - that's mullet for you.

The fish were beginning to thin out a bit now but half-a-dozen casts later I had another bass. After I'd returned this one I was just about to cast again when I noticed the state of the fly, its entire body had slithered down onto the bend of the hook and it was effectively useless. If I want to use it again I expect I shall have to whip its front end to the eye of the hook with a bit of fine nylon (I do this with my rubber eels as a matter of course nowadays). Geoff Hancock told me that flies for use in the sea have to be solidly made and I guess he was right.

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 -

The first bass.

A real tiddler but just as ferocious as its bigger relatives.

A bit bigger.

This one fought really well.

The mullet.

If this had been an eight pound bass I would not have been a bit surprised.

The last bass.

It was beginning to get dark as this one was landed.

Knackered Glass Minnow.

The fly was obviously effective but just not man enough for catching fish after fish.