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).

Two fishy trips and a silly slip (for me).

My last report finished with the words "Ah well, perhaps next time?" Here's what happened -

Last week I was contacted by my old friend Brian Baxter. It's literally years since Brian and I fished together but he's now retired and was keen to get together on the shore in search of bass and mullet. As it happened the spring tides were due, and I knew that there was lots of maggoty weed on the beaches so we arranged to give it a go. We were joined, on the evening in question, by two of my pals Bill and Nigel.

We tramped along the rocks about an hour before high water, each with our own tactics in mind. Nigel had his two fly rods, Bill just had his spinning rod and Brian and I had both. It was some time before any surface feeding mullet turned up but when they arrived they were there in numbers, and included some hefty fish. This tempted us to try the fly tackle with maggot-baited flies but the fish proved resistant to all our temptations. The net result of the evening was just two tiny schoolies to Nigel's fly, he and I each lost a mullet, Bill had a small bass on an Albie Snax lure, Brian had a couple of bites. In short - not very good. However we were all encouraged by the presence of lots of mullet, within easy fishable range. The bass seemed, in the main, to be very small. As we walked back we discussed the prospects - the concensus was that - "Perhaps tomorrow when the wind was supposed to increase a bit and the tide would be even higher, the bass might be more cooperative and the fishing would improve?"

The following morning I had an email from another pal., Kevin. He'd just tried an early morning bait-fishing session (in a different spot) and for an hour didn't have a touch. Thinking that a blank was on the cards he decided to fish at range with a Tackle House Feed lure. He missed a couple of takes and was thinking that they might have been pollack or more likely wrasse. He decided to strike the takes and this worked. Three bass up to 38cm. Bites stopped at 04:50. but on his walk back to the car park he noticed a small shoal of bait fish and cast a J11 to them. He had an immediate hit which came off. Second cast he was in, with another small, but fit looking, bass.

That evening Brian had other things to do but Bill, Nigel, Richard, Martyn and I arrived in force. This time Bill and Martyn were spinning while Richard, Nigel and I had our fly gear. I'd also taken along a spinning rod with a bouncy-ball float and a maggot fly on a dropper. It was ceratinly windier and rougher than the previous evening but easily fishable with all methods. The first incident was when, after walking a couple of hundred metres, I slipped and tore a muscle in my left calf. I decided to hobble on and see how it went with my painful leg (not a very sensible thing to do in retrospect).

On the credit side the fish arrived soon after we did so we spread out along the shore to see what we could catch. At first there were lots of mullet, again including some large ones. They were skimming the surface for maggots, mostly 5-10m out in the slightly choppier water. Richard, who had walked further on than the rest of us, says - "I had lots of fish feeding well and things looked promising, with a range of sizes including some big mullet and the odd large bass glimpsed gliding through. Then, right in the best congregation of feeding fish, what I thought was initially a very big fish coming up, turned into a seal. I could have tapped it on the back with my rod, as it was only about a metre out from the edge. It surfaced 2 metres from where I stood, saw me, shot out 10 meters and stopped to look back at me with a very surprised face. Not surprisingly, this activity killed things stone dead for half-an-hour then, slowly, fish came back, but no longer any big fish. There were now lots of small bass in close in and I had and a-bite-a-cast on a Delta 'fly', landed 6 lost several others, then nothing, no fish, no seals, just thunder and lightning so went back to join the others."

Bill had also wandered on along the shore, not quite as far as Richard, but the rest of us stayed together. We all saw the seal as it came along to inspect us and we noticed that the really big mullet (which were not inclined to take our flies any more than on the previous evening), did thin out after a while and didn’t return. It is interesting that, as Richard said, the small bass were eventually tightly packed in huge shoals within easy casting distance.

The best thing I can do is to sum up our catches. Richard had six small bass and two mullet on the fly. Nigel had twelve small bass and two mullet, also on the fly. Bill managed nine bass on spun soft plastics. Martyn had two small bass on a resin-headed Black Minnow. As I said, I took two rods - the spinning rod with a bouncy-ball and maggot fly dropper which I tried at first for the mullet - it proved useless, difficult to control in the gusty wind and weed so I never had a bite on it. After half-an-hour, having seen Nigel catch a schoolie on the fly, I switched to my fly gear and, trying a tiny Delta, I landed two bass and missed a couple of bites. At this point I hobbled along to my bag and changed 'flies' to a tinsel and white bunch of fibres on a small treble hook, which has worked for me before. Almost at once I had my next and biggest bass (about 2lb) on the fly rod. I then switched the lure onto the dropper of my bouncy-ball float on the spinning rod and, in short order, had four more bass, all tiddlers. All the fish were well hooked inside the mouth. At this point I hooked a powerful fish that took 20-30m of line against the clutch before coming unstuck. I would certainly have caught more (and stayed later) if I hadn't been a self-inflicted cripple. At this point the leg was hurting a lot and I decided that I'd better start my long, slow walk back. Martyn, unselfishly, offered to come with me. We left the others still fishing. As Bill said "It was a weird evening - an electrical storm in the channel, a bloody big seal, a rainbow in a red sky and a big pliosaur vertebra." (which he'd picked up on the beach!) … all in all a good night, shame no better fish were caught.

Bill took this picture of me playing a 'fly'-caught bass hooked on a tiny Delta eel.

I brought the fish to hand and unhooked it where I stood.

A close up of another bass on the fly gear.

And another small (but fatter) fish. They were all in good nick.

A fly, similar to the one that served me well for the bass.

One of Bill's bass caught on the spinning gear and weedless lure.



Written with Alan Vaughan. NEW PRINT OF THE ORIGINAL: IN PAPERBACK. Copies available from all good book shops RRP £14:99 - "Waterstones"


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


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