Mike Ladle


Information Page

Tackle and Tactics.

THINK LIKE A FISH Part 28 The pleasure of angling.

One of the big advantages of having a website is the interesting people that you get to know. Quite often I hear from an angler who wants to discuss his ideas or to exchange thoughts on methods. The person on the other end of the email 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 contacts are great enthusiasts.

Last June Simon Parker sent me the following message.

Dear Mike,

Sorry to trouble you, but having read your article 'A Beginners Guide to Spinning for Bass', I was hoping that you may be able to offer me a few words of advice.

I have fished for 30 years, coarse and game, and decided at the beginning of the year that I would like to have a crack at bass. Living near the south coast, I thought that this was a realistic challenge so I set about reading magazines and articles on the net, joined BASS, bought some lures and started fishing.

The problem is that I haven't caught a thing. Well that's not strictly true, I did manage to land a bass of approx. 3 lb, foul-hooked in the dorsal, some 3 weeks ago.

I have, since the beginning of April, fished on about 20 occasions. My local coastline comprises sandy shallow beaches broken up by timber/stone groynes. I am fishing at all stages of the tide for the last 2.5 ? 3hrs of daylight. I am covering a lot of ground, casting my lure at about 30 ? 45 degrees to the shore and at right angles to the shore when I reach a groyne retrieving the lure along the groyne. I have seen no indication of feeding bass and have seen no bass following my lure.

I have no experience of catching bass so I am not sure what I am doing wrong but I am beginning to think that:

1) I am fishing where there simply aren't bass in any quantity to make fishing for them a sensible proposition.

2) I am fishing in the right places at the wrong times.

3) It may be too early in the season.

4) I am fishing in the wrong way. Perhaps on this type of coastline bait fishing would be more productive?

I haven't mentioned tackle so far because having read your article I know that it is adequate. In any case my fishing experience to date, regardless of species, has taught me that location of the fish is the most important step in catching them and this is where I feel my problem lies.

I realise that there is no magic wand that you can wave and I also realise that it would be unfair of me to expect you to give away any hard won information but I would be extremely grateful for any advice you may have.

Many thanks for your time,

Simon Parker

You will notice that like all good anglers Simon did not want to know where I fish or precise details of lures etc. but he knew that a sound knowledge of the habitat choice, feeding patterns and behaviour of the fish were the key to success. He also knew that he would do best by getting to know his own patch thoroughly. It was obvious to me that Simon already had the right idea and I can't even remember exactly what I said in reply. However, as always, I did the best I could, with a few suggestions about times of day to fish and so on. I suspected that - as is often the case - it was mostly a matter of confidence.

This week I had another email from Simon as follows.

Dear Mike,

I've suddenly realised that, since following your advice and starting to catch bass, I haven't let you know how my first season went.

I enjoyed some good fishing from my local beaches with 53 bass landed, best one 81b 14oz. Most of these were caught plug fishing but the larger fish, there were 4 over 5 lb, all fell to bait.

WHERE TO PUT THE BAIT HOWEVER WAS REVEALED WHILE PLUG FISHING. Covering a large amount of shoreline paddling around in a pair of waders makes you realise where food will probably lie and you begin to build up a picture of features on apparently featureless stretches of sandy beach. I was also fortunate to see 2 large bass (1 fish on 2 different occasions) no more than 1 rod length away from me, which was as good a clue as anyone could wish for.

I also found that, as you'd suggested, THE BEST TIMES TO FISH also happened to be when I could go without work getting in the way and at times when family commitments WERE at a minimum. Living close to the beaches meant that if the weather is right I could grab a couple of hours fishing VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING OR IN THE EVENING/AT NIGHT.

I'm looking forward to the next season and I've just bought a new rod to suit the type of fishing I'm doing ( Abu Garcia 'Viper' bass rod, new this year, reasonably priced). I've a few new ideas to try out (that's another advantage of bass, they seem to be very obliging in terms of the methods that can be used to catch them ? once you find them that is).

Livebaiting and hardback crabs are next on the agenda. Livebaiting I know a little about having used it for a variety of freshwater fish but I'm not so sure about hardbacks. Have you any experience of using them? How do you get the damned things on the hook? The only thing I can think of is to smash them and lash them on the hook with bait elastic.

Hope your season was as enjoyable as mine.



It's very pleasant to hear that a keen angler has done well (as he deserved to do) and I have no doubt that Simon will catch even more and bigger bass in the years to come. To my knowledge if he manages to crack (excuse the pun) the 'hard crab' problem it will be a first but his experiments with livebaits should make up for it.

I look forward with keen anticipation to our 2003 correspondence.

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.

What's going on down there?.

A taking time.

Taken on a plug at dusk this was one of Mark Taylor's first ever bass on a visit to my own 'patch'..

A bass angler's dawn.

The sun is just rising, the bass will soon be going off the feed and I'll be on my way home for breakfast.

Plug caught bass.

The bass often continue to take lures well after dusk.

Another nice lure caught fish.

'Paddling about in the sea' and casting a floating plug is an excellent way to find the fish.