Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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A fortnight ago I wrote a little piece on catching scad under the yellow light of sodium vapour lamps along a bridge. Scad are a species which is well known to be attracted to lights. When the corresponding tides came round again, exactly two weeks later, my pal Dave Cooling rang up and suggested that we had another go. When walked down to the waters edge it was already well after dark, the tide was ebbing fast and the fish could be heard (and seen) slashing at the surface. I had a few casts with the luminous Mepps-type spinner, which had been successful previously, and had bites immediately. After landing a couple of fish my confidence was sufficiently high to try the fly gear.

I have to admit that I am no great fly fisherman. I have only one fly rod and my reel has a single spool carrying a number 6, forward taper, floating fly line (which is what I use for maggot feeding mullet and bass). I tied on the smallest, pearly-white, Delta eel and flicked it out about ten metres into the flow. There was an 'explosive' take and I was into my first, fly-caught, scad. After a hectic struggle, when the fish had been landed, I took a few pictures and, even on the tiny screen of the digital camera, the colours of the little scad were breathtaking. I was reminded of something I read a few years ago in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association, relating to the way that scad, in shoals, communicate. Apparently, the skin of the fish has two or three layers of tiny crystals set at different angles. The layers are only a fraction of the wavelength of light and when viewed from different angles reflect quite different colours. The result is that as the fish turns it seems to change from red to yellow. Presumably these changes are signals to other shoal members as a fish turns. Apparently scad also have bright reflective markings inside the mouth which signal to other shoal members that they are feeding.

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 -



October 14 2001

Dave's wife Di lands her first scad on a luminous spinner.

Di's first scad took a luminous bladed Mepps.

Dave unhooks the scad for Di.

Scad have one or two nasty spines and should be handled with care.

My first fly-caught scad. The little Delta eel was just in the scissors but several fish took the bait well inside the mouth.

A fly caught scad well hooked on the little rubber eel.

Both the red and yellow irridescence colours are visible on the head and body of the fish as it is illuminated by the flash of the camera. The eye also has a strikingly red reflection.

Scad are beautiful, hard fighting little fish.