Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page

Freshwater Fishing

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).

Last cast pike.

I know I've said it before but I really am pretty conservative when it comes to tackle. I tend to stick to the same gear for most of my spinning, particularly when it comes to bassing. However, recently I've been trying a modern Teklon rod (which has stood in my cupboard unused for some time) and a spool of Nanofil line. The reel is my oldest Shimano Stradic - almost an antique now but still very effective. Now the rod is a bit lighter in weight than my usual Surespin and the Nanofil was new to me. I've caught a few bass on the setup and it seemed fine but without any obvious advantages. being a lazy sort of person I simply used the same set of tackle when I went to the local river. I find that with the lighter-weight plugs that I tend to use in freshwater that the set up is very good.

Once I'd learned to control my casts (new rods and reels come into the old dogs-new tricks category for me) I could pitch the lures a fair bit further (perhaps 10%) than on my usual braids and it was pretty accurate. Having already caught bass, pollack, wrasse, mackerel, trout, seatrout, salmon, chub, perch and pike on the equipment I was pretty confident that it would do anything required of it. Anyway, a couple of evenings back my wife was working so I decided to have an hour on the local river and as things turned out it proved my point. As usual I had a few feet of 15lb Memorex monofilament as a leader and a short trace of knottable wire on the end in case of pike.

I was using a black and silver, J9, floating Rapala - a lure which has caught me countless fish over the years. I'd changed the trebles for 2x versions having had the standard hooks straightened by a big salmon earlier this year. I began fishing in a bridge pool and first cast I had a modest perch. I was pleased because in short sessions there's never any guarantee of fish. I moved up above the bridge and on the first chuck, up and across, I felt a hard knock. "Must have been a fish!" I thought. Second cast I saw the culprit following my lure - a small pike. I cast for a third time and this time the fish was hooked and landed. Two fish in the first two spots - not big but pretty good.

After that things slowed down. In fact they came to a dead stop and by the time it reached twenty-five-to-nine darkness was beginning to fall and I hadn't had another bite. I'd reached the point where I decided to have my last cast and as I opened the bale arm of the reel a good salmon, perhaps 15lb, leapt from the water just where I was about to drop the lure. I cast down and across and let the lure swing round in the current without reeling - nothing! I began to retrieve along my own bank where there was a bit of a slack with a couple of lily leaves showing.

Wallop!!!!! The rod was dragged round into a tight curve as a good fish took the lure. Line screamed off the reel as the fish tore off downstream into a deep pool. "Funny place for a salmon!" I thought "Perhaps it had followed in from the faster water at the head of the pool?" By now it was taking lots of line so I began to back away upstream, rod well bent and clutch zuzzing in short bursts. After about five minutes I began to regain a bit of line and I saw a big swirl on the surface. Even in the gathering gloom I could see that this was no salmon but a big pike. Excellent! All I had to do was land it. I tend not to carry a net because over the years I've had a few good fish come unstuck after loose trebles tangled in the meshes. It was a matter of leading my pike to a spot where I could slide down the bank and stand in the water without risk of drowning.

The first problem was that the pike didn't want to follow me upstream. To compound matters there were several bits of old, rusty, camp sheathing sticking out of the bank. One touch of the line on that and I could kiss goodbye to my fish. For five or ten minutes I tried to manoeuvre the fish round these obstructions. Not easy. The little wand of a rod didn't put much pressure on the fish and it wasn't really long enough to reach beyong the metalwork. Eventually, after reducing the tension on the clutch. I persuaded the pike to swim out a little way and walked the line up past the snags. Now it was just a matter of time. Sure enough I was able to lead the fish up until I reached a shallow gravel platform. I slid down the four-foot drop from the grassy bank and worked the pike to where I stood. bend down, pick it up lay it on the damp grass and remove the hook. Just time to weigh it (just over 9kg) and take a picture with the self timer on the camera. As the fish swam away I realised that it was now almost dark - a good end to my short session.

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 -


No monster but a beautiful fish.

Small pike.

This one was determined to have the lure.

Good finish.

Despite the problems the gear coped well.