Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page.

Fishing in Sri Lanka.

I'm off to Antigua for a few days next week and I hope to catch a few fish while I'm away. I notice that the blog is now building up a substantial set of pages about fishing in other parts of the world. Several Caribbean islands, the Seychelles, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand etc.. This must be a handy resource for people thinking of taking a fishing rod on holiday. I like to cater for the shorebound fisherman if I can but lots of us enjoy a day or two afloat when where away. Anyway, the following emails are from my epal Dave Wilkins who has just been to the far east.

Hi Mike,

I have just returned from a fabulous trip to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. At the end of a hectic tour of the best wildlife spots on the island I booked a morning's fishing with a local fisherman. I enclose a picture of the boat which might not even have been considered sea worthy over here ! Anyway we ventured out into the early morning afloat on a beautiful Indian Ocean. I caught a couple of fish , trolling lures and here are a few of the tips I received from the local experts that I thought might be useful to pass on.

The first is that 'Rapala' is a universal signal for a conversation even if neither person can speak the other's language! The local fisherman in the Negombo area of Sri Lanka use Rapala lures (the cost is only half that of similar lures in GB) both with rods or more usually on hand lines. They catch all types of predatory sea fish but the bigger sailfish and marlin etc are caught on deep-fished whole sardines rigged on a large single hook with a muppet type rubber attachment over the head of the fish to give movement. The fisherman I went out with has landed marlin to 350 kgs on a hand line ! It took him and two colleagues 18 hours to land it! Shades of Ernest Hemingway!

The interesting point is that they are adamant that the colour of lures is very important. Red heads are used in the early morning and evening but once the sun comes up they switch to blue mackerel or green mackerel. I tried to convince them that 'Firetiger' would work but they would not even let me use it! They also use orange when the light is really poor or in dirty water.Bearing in mind that I fish for fun - these guys fish to live and they really know their stuff. The knots they use are variations on the Rapala loop knots to allow the lure extra movement. Also any nylon used must be clear, they did not let me use a blue line.

I took my 4Sure spin rod and fished with a fixed spool reel and 20lb line. Needless to say I was laughed at as they considered that 80lb rods and line were more appropriate but I did manage to land a snapper of about 5lbs on my gear. An interesting learning experience.

Anyway it's back to pike once the river is fishable again.

Tight Lines


I replied telling Dave that I had similar experiences in Tobago where big red or orange muppets are used as decorations for trolled baits on handlines. My West Indian fisherman pal Owen had also landed a big marlin on a handline after a titanic battle. It's possible that the 'red lure in poor light' idea might have some substance and it certainly shouldn't be ignored but even commercial fishermen are susceptible to the same 'sheep' behaviour as many anglers, so it needs to be tested. I also mentioned to Dave that my son Richard had just been to Kerala in southern India and had been put off his fishing (it takes some doing) by the quantities of human excrement on the beaches and rocks. Richard said that although the boats were landing plenty of big fish the beach seines were often devoid of anything but tiddlers. Anyway, Dave sent the following reply.


Good luck in Antigua !

It is interesting that you mentioned seine netting as the beaches near to a hotel we stayed in at Negombo had a large net which was used every morning but the catch was minimal and consisted of very small fish , yet out at sea the catch of fish was much bigger.

Cheers, Dave.

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

The boat.

I see what Dave means about seaworthiness.'

Dave's fish.

It looks like a Maori sea-perch - a type of hefty thick-lipped snapper.'