Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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SEA FISHING

17 April 2005

Back from the Caribbean.

Rich and me are back from our week of intensive fishing in Tobago. To be honest the fishing was a bit mixed. We've never been in April before and I can only assume that the big jacks and tarpon were elsewhere during our visit. However, we did catch lots of fish by spinning and fly fishing from the shore using multi-jointed 'travel' rods. The spinning gear was our usual 'bass rod and reel' with 20-30lb braid and a variety of lures attached to short wire traces. Fly tackle consisted of seven or eight weight rods with floating lines. We both had new, cheap, large arbor' fly reels but Rich's 'Okuma' version was vastly superior, and almost half the price of my 'Loop' reel.

Each day we tended to fish a beach at dawn, move to a 'flat' during the day and then try another beach at dusk. Often we walked several miles to our chosen fishing spot (and back again) so that in temperatures of 30 degrees (it's always 30 degrees) and blazing sun it was sometimes a bit tiring. This was particularly the case after several hours of wielding rods and wading waist deep in between the long walks.

My pal Will Gascoigne had given me a little silver plug that he said had proved "Excellent when he was fishing in Florida!" I showed it to Richard and he immediately took a fancy to it. In fact the barracuda liked it even more than Richard did and he caught three and lost one during his first session with it. The lure consistently produced barracuda throughout the trip.

In addition to the barracuda we caught: (on lures) - houndfish, coneys, tarpon, sand divers, big eyed scad, mutton snapper, mahogany snapper and latin grunt: (on flies) - I lost a big bonefish and we landed palometa, mutton snapper, grey snapper, tarpon, and snook: (on bait) - grey snapper, tarpon and puffer fish. We saw huge shoals of baitfish with stacks of diving pelicans, terns and laughing gulls feeding on them (but little fish activity). During our walks and fishing sessions we came across, turtles, spotted eagle rays, huge sting rays, guitar fish, puffer fish and masses of sponges, sea cucumbers and corals.

In general the best fishing was for barracuda (Richard caught them all) and tarpon although much the most exciting incident was the bonefish that took my fly and promptly ran off 160 yards of fly-line and backing before pinging the ten pound tapered cast as I hung on to avoid losing the fly-line. Rich and me were left almost speechless. Unfortunately such occurrences don't photograph well.

The barracuda ranged from about two to seven pounds and often fought like stink on the spinning gear. The tarpon (best about eight pounds) were mostly landed on flies although some took plugs and on the one occasion that I tried a wobbled scad for bait it was taken within seconds. They did a lot of jumping but the battles are much less prolonged than with the mullet (often of similar size) that I catch at home. We bought a small pack of shrimps and used them under floats but as a rule the puffers and small snapper simply stripped the baits (how do they do that?). On one occasion Richard caught several decent grey snappers on floated shrimp and was 'bitten off' by something bigger. Apart from the sandfly bites and the odd spot of sunburn - all in all it was a wonderful trip in a fantastic, relaxing atmosphere (we came and went as we pleased). The idea was to fish ourselves silly and we managed it with no trouble at all.

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 - docladle@hotmail.com

Barracuda.

One of Rich's smaller fish but it went like a rocket.

Beaten.

A clear view of the shallow (1ft) diving plug taken by the 'cuda'.

The tricky bit.

This is the stage where you have to remove the hooks without being bitten.

Tarpon.

This beautiful fish took a wobbled scad lip hooked on a circle hook.

Tarpon again.

A small tarpon taken on my fly gear.

Grey snapper.

Rich caught this one by the mangroves on shrimp.  The fish went off as it got dark.

Cute or what?.

This one did not take a lure.