Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page.

A bit more about livebaiting.

I had an email a couple of weeks back that added just a little bit more to the 'bass livebaiting' story. Since the capture of larger bass seems to become ever more difficult here in Dorset I thought that anything that could give us an edge is worth knowing. My correspondent was Colin Thompson who lives in Dorset and here's what he had to say.

Hi Mike,

I was very interested to read the information from Peter Jones about catching bass on livebait from a pier.I had similar experiences back in the mid to late sixties fishing with my dad from Newhaven east pier in Sussex.The pier was constructed on concrete pillars and I caught bass on small live pout dropped down between the pillars - a few years ago I saw the same method used successfully on Weymouth Pleasure Pier. When the mackerel were within range of the east pier the first few people to get a joey out, either freelined or under a float, would catch. Initially the bass would try to strip mackerel off feathers as they were being reeled in.

Another method I used very successfully in those days was to cast out with conventional beachcasting tackle but then clip a trace with a livebait onto the mainline and let it swim down. This really was incredibly effective . You would think that with line stretch and the trace not being fixed to the mainline that a taking fish would let go but on the contrary every take resulted in a hookup.

Hope this is of some interest.

Colin Thompson

Clearly the tactics above will still 'work' provided that there are fish there to catch (there probably are). It just needs the confidence to give it a go. It's years since I fished from any pier but I know that lots of anglers still do. Some of my first decent bass were hooked from the pleasure Pier (not the stone pier) at Weymouth. Anyway, Colin added a bit more to his account in the following reply. I've heard of the sliding livebait rig but never tried it myself. To be honest I suspect that the freelining tactics that I use are probably equally effective, but there may be conditions when one approach is better than the other. Anyway, here's Colin's second email.

Hi Mike

Please feel free to use the email. Since writing It I have remembered another livebaiting situation - this time at Ferrybridge near Weymouth.(The old bridge is long gone ML).

A guy in his early twenties was bumping 2oz of lead with 5ft of trace and a live pout on the end down the incoming tide using a carp rod and 10lb line .He had two bass 8.5 and 10.5lb in quick succession, quite a fight in the tidal flow though in his favour he was fishing off the bridge itself.

Though I have fished this spot many times over 20 years, often on fly the largest I have landed is only 4.5lb so livebaiting does seem to sort out the bigger fish. (Not counting two hooked on fly which were unstoppable, wrapping my 15lb leader round the bridge pillar assisted by the full tidal flow).

Best wishes


There are obviously lots of places where it would be possible to copy these tactics and probably catch decent bass. As I said earlier 'confidence' is the secret of success and that will only come after you've hooked the first big fish.

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

Swanage pier

The supporting pilings of wooden structures like this are often a haven for big fish.'