Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page.

"Small stuff - palometa and barracuda".

One of the things you quickly learn in the tropics is to watch for bird activity. In the UK diving terns or squabbling gulls can sometimes point the way to good fishing but near the equator it is almost a guarantee of fish activity.

On our recent trip to Tobago we spent a fair amount of time relaxing on various beaches and one of the most popular bathing/lounging spots is Pigeon Point. Of course bathing beaches in the middle of the day are certainly NOT the best places to fish but the rods always went with us and on one day we noticed a lot of diving roseate terns around the wooden pier. I picked up the fly rod armed with little white Delta eel (just like the ones I use for mackerel, pollack and bass over here) and walked along the beach to see what was going on.

A huge shoal of baitfish had congregated around the pier and they were being picked off by the birds. Around the edge of the shoal small groups of palometa were rushing into the massed bait and creating havoc. By wading into the sea and casting my fly just a few metres it was possible to tempt the aggressive little fish to take almost on the surface. I missed quite a few but in a short session I managed to land four fish, every one of which rushed about like a mad thing before it was landed. None of the palometa were huge but they put up a spirited show on the fly gear and I really enjoyed the fishing.

On another occasion Steve and I were spinning for bonefish on an area of sand and turtle grass. As we waded we could see a small group of pelicans with their attendant laughing gulls plunging into shoals of silvery baitfish. We were using small, shallow diving plugs and Steve had removed the mid-body hook from his on the premise that bonefish usually grab at the tail of small fish.

Between us we managed several barracuda 'jacks'. Every fish showed the usual lightening bursts of speed and many of them rocketed into the air in a way that would put seatrout to shame. We did catch bonefish too but I'll put them on another page.

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

Pier at Pigeon Point.

there are always people on the pier.  The 'shadow' under the woodwork is entirely baitfish.'

Casting a fly.

Again the 'shadow' is a baitfish shoal.  Notice the hunting terns and a couple of brown pelicans.'


This was about the smallest one I landed.  These fish swim much faster than you might think from their appearance.'


Steve's into an 'accidental' barracuda (not a bonefish) on his little plug.'


A short wire trace is essential if you don't want to lose lures.'

Handle with care.

Even smallish fish like this one have to be treated with respect if you want to preserve your fingers. Note the turtle grass just under the surface.'

Tail treble.

Another barracuda.  Steve's shallow diving  'bonefish' plug only has a tail treble.'

One for me.

I also managed one or two small barracuda.'