Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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SEA FISHING

For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

28 June 2006

I'm going on holiday for a couple of weeks in July so this might be the last page for a while. I'll try to do another if I can. - Cheers MIKE

Why mullet?

I expect that everyone but me will have a plausible answer to this question. No doubt every one of these answers will be different. If I begin at the beginning---

I've been catching bass and mullet, on lures and flies, from the Dorset coast, for many years now. I've landed them when it was flat calm and when it was so rough that it was almost impossible to fish. As most anglers will be aware the fish come in on the high spring tides to feed on seaweed fly larvae (maggots) floating on the surface of the sea. There's nearly always a mixture of bass and mullet in these feeding shoals but the proportion of the two species varies a lot. At times bass predominate, swirling and splashing on the surface as they grab mouthsfull of maggots. On other occasions there will be mullet cruising sedately around with their eyes and mouths breaking the surface as they scoop up the tiny larvae.

The question is "Why do the proportions of species change?" This happens not just from year to year or season to season but even from one set of tides to the next or from one day to the next. The last two sessions of springs were a classic example. On the first series of tides me and my pals could catch almost nothing but bass. For three evenings we fished with streamer flies, plugs and poppers landing one bass after another. There were a few mullet present and I even managed to catch a one or two that accidentally ingested my flies but it was 95% bass. On the recent springs there was hardly a bass to be seen. The same exponents of streamer fly fishing were down on the shore, Nigel and me gave the plugs a fair try, conditions were good but there were virtually no bass present. The mullet however were there in force - hundreds of them! On the first evening I was away in Oxford so I was told about the phenomenon. When I went down the following evening sure enough it was mullet only. I have to say I'm baffled.

The mullet, as is normal, showed not the slightest interest in fry imitations or plugs and it was only those of us who resorted to the dry maggot fly (baited with maggots) who managed to catch. We landed several decent mullet between us and I played one for a good ten minutes with my pals standing round. The fish was only about three pounds but it took the full fly line and twenty or thirty metres of backing off the reel on a couple of occasions. On the size 12 hook there was no way the fish could be bullied in so I was giving it as much pressure as I dared. Mullet are amazing fish, perhaps not quite as fast or violent as bass when they take the fly but having several times more stamina and masses of power.

Anyway, that's the question. Why, on the same stretch of beach, were there all bass on one series of spring tides and all mullet on the next? The conditions were a bit calmer on the second occasion but both times seaweed fly maggots were the attraction. Of course it simply means being prepared for anything every time you go - but experience has taught me to do this anyway. If I leave something at home it's sure to be just what I need.

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

It's on!

Nigel into a nice mullet on the fly tackle.  Note the blackheaded gulls feeding in the waters's edge.

Nearly there.

The mullet wallows in the edge after a spirited struggle.

Landed.

A beautiful fish.  Look at that tail, no wonder they fight hard.

Well hooked.

The maggot fly is well out of sight inside the mouth of the mullet.  See the maggots on it, picked up as the fish was slid ashore.

One of my mullet.

About four pounds but easier to land than the three pounder I caught next.

Spoil the picture.

Nigel took this one of me with the fish.  Pity you can't smell the weed - it's rank.