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).

No baits but a decent pike.

I'm never keen to spend much time on the river after a hard frost. When I think about it that's not exactly true - I'm not keen on going when a sudden frosty morning has followed a slightly warmer spell, and recently we have suffered - mild, cold, mild, cold - which really put me off. Anyway, by picking my days I have managed a couple of trips to the river in the past week. Each time I tried to pick the days when the forecast was for a relatively mild preceding night. On the first occasion I went with my pal Nigel, he likes to fish for grayling while I usually try to catch a couple of baits for piking. Conditions looked pretty good with reasonably clear water (we've had no rain for weeks) and not much wind. To start with we both set about float fishing with maggots, in a small sidestream. For half-an-hour it was looking pretty grim. Nigel missed a bite at range but otherwise there was nothing doing. On my umpteenth trot down the float suddenly ducked under and I found myself playing a fish. As soon as it was hooked it splashed on the surface and I though that it might be a trout, but no, it was a nice grayling of a pound or so. I netted the fish and took its picture, just to show that we hadn't blanked. Following my good fortune things went dead again, so after a little while we decided to move to the main river.

By now the sun was shining and although it was still cool it was pleasant fishing and we were fairly optimistic. Pike have been thin on the ground lately so I wasn't expecting too much (= anything) on my lure, but the grayling often bite well under those conditions. Nigel found himself a nice smooth run, and began to trot the maggots through. After a while he hooked a fish, but it turned out to be an out of season trout. We both persisted for quite a while but clearly there was nothing doing so we set off back to the cars. We got as far as the stream where we'd started and it still looked good, so I watched as Nigel trotted his float down from a little bridge. First cast - was that a bite? He tried again and this time he hooked and landed a grayling a bit smaller than the one I'd had earlier. He was encouraged and wanted to stay for a bit,so at this point I packed in and left him still fishing.

My grayling on the first session. No monster but they are beautiful (if a bit slimy, smelly and wriggly) fish.


Nigels late grayling. Phew!


Three days later the forecast was for a (short lived) significant rise in temperature and an unseasonably mild night, so I decided to have another piking trip the following day. I had things to do in the morning but by the time I'd had an early lunch the temperature was almost into double figures - excellent! When I got to the river I started off, as usual, by trying to catch a bait, but it was futile and after more than half-an-hour of biteless fishing I had had enough. The best option was to try a lure. I unclipped the circle hook trace from the pike rod and replaced it with a large, silver spoon.

I walked to the upstream end of a deeper stretch with about ten metres of slack water under my own bank. I cast to mid-river and allowed the spoon to swing back across the flow into the slack area. I could see the lure flashing and every couple of seconds I gave it a twitch to make it move erratically. I walked a couple of paces downstream and did the same thing again. The spoon was well down as it entered the slower flow and suddenly the rod was yanked round as a pike grabbed the lure and hooked itself. The fish tore away and swam upstream ripping off line against the clutch. At this point I was hoping that it wouldn't come unstuck. It didn't, and I played the pike for a while until I was able to pick up the net from the grass where I'd dropped it and, finding a secure bit of bank for my feet, place it in the water. It was probably a minute or two before the fish slid over the rim and into the meshes. I hauled it ashore to have its picture taken before returning it to the river and watching it swim away.

My well conditioned pike with the rod and spoon in the picture.


A selfie as I prepare to return my catch.


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 -