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).

Not always what I was after.

I expect that it is obvious to everyone that I enjoy fishing and don't mind too much what I fish for. However, I like to catch what I'm after; in fact I think this is probably the main thing that motivates me to fish. My two latest freshwater sessions were firstly in search of chub or perch, and then a second one after pike. Having recently caught one or two smallish chub on lures, and with a whole, free afternoon in front of me (Lilian was out, sorting through some archeological samples), I decided to try plugging again. It did not start well. As a result of half-an-hour or more of rod swinging I had an aching shoulder (old age) and no sign of a fish (no fish). The river was in good nick, at a nice winter level and the water pretty clear, so I was a bit disappointed with the lack of action. I'm not the most patient angler in the World so, deciding that I'd got it wrong and that a move was in order, I hopped into the car and shifted to a stretch about a kilometre downstream.

I scanned the river. The conditions looked equally as good as at the first section, but the opening results were just as bad. Despite another fishless half-hour, I pressed on with the little jointed Rapala (I'm not a great lure changer). After a few fishless flicks into each likely spot I walked on downstream to try the next promising place. My first bite came as a bit of a surprise. I'd cast down, and the lure landed very close to the near bank. I stuck the rod out as far as possible, to avoid catching the line on the bankside, and began to wind as slowly as possible. The plug inched its way towards where I stood and was almost back, close enough to be lifted from the water, when it appeared to be caught in an overhanging clump of grass. The banks were very steep and the water was much too deep for my wellies; I called myself a rude name and gave the line a hopeful pull - the clump of grass pulled back. I'd hooked a small but spirited pike which had clearly been lurking in under the bank. The lively, little fish jumped a couple of times and took some line against the clutch as it swam towards trailing willow branches on the far bank. However, the pike was no match for my (bass) tackle (few of them are) and I was able to halt its progress fairly easily. I netted it, and took a quick picture before returning the fish to the river.

My first fish - a very lively pike.


My spirits rose. At least I'd caught something. It was a lovely November day, no wind and lots of sunshine. A little while later I reached a wide, shallow stretch where the water rushed over the gravel. It was the place where I'd had several chub on the plug a week or two back. I tried a cast or two down and across the tail of the pool just upstream of the riffle but there was nothing. My little Rapala was a shallow diver so, by keeping the rod up, it could easily be fished in the thinnest water. My next cast was actually into the shallows. The lure swung quickly back across the river and the angle of the line suggested that it was just approaching the upstream limit of the fast water. I lifted the rod and there was a splash exactly where I expected to see the plug. I decided that the splash was too big to have been caused by the lure itself - could it have been the desired chub? I wound in and exactly repeated the previous cast. Again the lure swung across to my side and I slowly began to retrieve. As the Rapala reached the point where I'd seen the splash there was a fierce yank on the rod and a decent fish exploded from the water, clearly it was not a chub but a decent trout. The fish went berserk, repeatedly jumping and rushing about in the shallow water. I slid it ashore, clicked the camera, unhooked and returned it. The fish shot away into mid-river. So, I'd caught two fish - neither of which was what I intended to catch. Interesting but not very satisfying.

A colourful trout - in mint condition.


A close(er) up of the lure.


My second trip was in search of pike. To start with I attempted to catch myself a dace for bait, but the only thing that took the float-fished maggots was a seatrout - no good at all. In the absence of a suitable bait I armed the pike trace with one of my hybrid 'Slandra' lures. These gadgets really do look like some sort of eel when they are in the water and, since they are as near weedless as it is possible to get, they can be fished in almost any conditions. My pal Nigel had joined me for the session but he was float fishing for grayling with maggots.

The seatrout. Definitely NOT the bait that I wanted to catch.


I Started near the top of the stretch and began to work my way downstream, drawing the lure slowly through any place that suggested 'PIKE'! Twenty minutes passed and I reached the downstream end of a 2m deep slow-flowing section. The water was gin clear so it was easy to see the pale, greenish-white tail of my lure wriggling, even when it was near the river bed. I cast again and watched as the writhing tail crossed the river. Suddenly it disappeared and the rod was pulled round. I was in! The pike, clearly a decent fish, put up a good show and by ploughing upstream it managed to drape the line with lots of weed.

I shouted to Nigel, who was fishing a little way upstream on the far bank, and he came down to take a couple of pictures. It was quite a while before I was able to net the pike and slide it ashore. The Texposer hook of the Slandra was, as intended, neatly in the scissors of the pike so there was no way it would have escaped.

My pike slides into the net after several minutes of give and take (Nigel's picture, taken from the far bank).


Nigel also took a picture of me with the fish as I was about to return it.


My shot of the fish, unhooked but still in the net.


A closer picture showing the successful lure.


We fished on for a further hour a-and-a-half but I only managed one more bite (a much smaller pike which wasn't hooked). Nigel had a couple of grayling and our friend Adrian, who was fishing further downstream, also landed a single grayling and a trout on his maggot baits. Still, at least this time I'd caught what I was after. Success!.

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 -