Mike Ladle


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Tackle and Tactics.

THINK LIKE A FISH Part 17 Confidence is Everything (Well almost!).

One of the big advantages of writing articles and producing fishing websites is the interesting people that you get to know. Quite often I answer the phone and find that I am speaking to an angler who wants to discuss his ideas or to exchange thoughts on methods. The person on the other end of the line can range from someone completely new to the sport who would like a few tips, to an expert with much more knowledge than myself. Without exception all these unexpected callers are great enthusiasts.

Some time back a local angler, Keith Starks, rang me. Keith had seen my name mentioned (I think in an NFSA booklet) as an angling instructor and wondered if I ran "teach-ins" on lure fishing. In fact I was surprised to find that anyone still knew about National Angler's Council qualifications. Apart from a few extra mural classes for Bristol and Southampton Universities and the usual AGM talks, demos and so on I've never done any teaching. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I said that I had never thought of running "a lure fishing master class" (Keith's words not mine) but he could come fishing with me some time if he wanted to.

The gist of Keith's problem was that, although he enjoyed spinning and caught plenty of pike, perch, chub and even mullet (on rag baited spinners) he had, for years, been struggling to catch any bass on plugs. He simply wanted to know whether he was doing anything wrong. Now - we all know the feeling! You read about a technique, set yourself up with the gear and try it out but nothing happens. You soon begin to wonder whether you have missed some critical point about the method. Are you casting far enough? Are you retrieving at the right speed? Are your lures the right type/colour/shape/ size etc. etc.? There are a-hundred-and-one doubts that can assail your mind.

I suggested that Keith should join me a couple of days later for an early morning spinning session but he happened to be working and could not come. We left it that he should ring me when he was free to arrange a trip. As it turned out the bassing was good in the days after Keith's first call. I had lots of fish including a number of four and five pounders and one of over nine pounds. Anyway, he eventually rang me again and we fixed up an evening session on a big spring tide.

I decided to visit a spot where bass and mullet often congregate on the evening high water. Keith said that he would pick me up from my house and sure enough he arrived at the appointed hour. As we drove to the shore we discussed fishing in general and it was soon clear that Keith had a pretty fair idea of how to use a rod and reel. He was equipped with more than adequate spinning tackle and his basic set of plugs was almost identical to the ones I normally use myself.

As we tramped along the shore it became apparent from our conversation that Keith was a very competent angler. There was no sign of fish when we first arrived at the appointed spot but the tide was rising quickly. We tackled up with floating plugs and began to spin. Keith's basic outfit consisted of a carp rod, a reasonable fixed spool reel and twelve-pound line, perhaps a bit heavier than I would use but certainly not enough to prevent him catching bass. I watched as he cast and retrieved his little plug - no problems with distance, lure control or speed of retrieve - in fact his technique was almost faultless.

After fifteen or twenty minutes the mullet began to arrive. I pointed out how the fish moved up against the tide - guzzling maggots as they came. We ignored them and kept on spinning, knowing that bass are often mixed in with the mullet shoals. Soon there were groups of good-sized thick lips feeding as though there was no tomorrow. Keith was clearly impressed but was not distracted from his objective of taking a bass on the plug. I was less strong willed and could not resist having a go with the fly rod. I tied on a poly-fly and baited it with three maggots. Within a couple of casts I was into a fish which tore out to sea. Keith put down his rod and came to help me but as he arrived on the scene the mullet came unstuck.

We returned to our fishing and it was not long before another mullet took the fly. This time the fish was well hooked and as Keith arrived at my side I stuck the fly rod in his hand. Despite the fact that he had never done it before he played the lively fish like an expert, retrieving line when the mullet stopped and letting go of the fly-reel handle when the bend in the rod showed that tension on the four-pound nylon was becoming critical. After a few minutes he slid the mullet into the waiting net. It was a decent fish and I took a few pictures as a momento. Shortly after returning the mullet Keith hooked and landed a bass on his own gear - one of each - success! The two big mullet which followed were a bonus and we both agreed it had been a good evening's fishing.

It seems to me that, in this case, all that was needed was a bit of confidence. Keith rang me a few days later to tell me that he had landed several bass on the plugs. I look forward to his calls now as he generally has some interesting snippet of fishing news to tell me. I have added his name to my list of fishing friends and no doubt, in the future, we shall be able to net a few decent fish for each other. That's what fishing is all about - confidence and co-operation!

This evening I shall be taking two more pals, Steve and Paul, down to the coast. They are coarse anglers and have never even tried to catch sea fish. I told them to bring light float gear for the mullet (If the fish turn up!) and I've rigged up a couple of plugging rods for them to try. If we do any good I'll put the pictures on the 'Catch Fish' page soon.

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


Think like a fish.

Confidence is Everything (Well almost!).

A jointed buoyant Rapala.

There are lots of plugs which will catch bass but for the newcomer this one has a good action and is a reliable fish catcher.

The first mullet landed by Keith.

If your first sea fish is a decent mullet it's a good start.


Keith carries the mullet back to the edge of the sea.

Back it goes.

It's a good feeling to see fish swim away - if you don't want to eat them.

A plugged bass.

Lure fishing can be a bit demoralising until you catch that first fish.