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).

The right time!

A couple of people have recently picked up on me talking about catching bass at first light. The general idea was to ask why I didn't fish at night because, without a doubt, these fish will bite well in the dark on both plugs and poppers. I'm sure that, when you get down to it bass will take lures at any point in the twenty-four hours. I've certainly caught plenty of them in pitch darkness and in brilliant sunshine. However, there is no doubt that many predatory fish are most active at the change of light.

Why should this be? Well firstly let me make my excuses. I like to get up early and it's a long time since I used to fish far into the night so perhaps I'm biased. Nevertheless, there are certain places that I fish where the only time that I can catch a significant number of fish (not just bass but mackerel, pollack, scad and garfish as well) is as the light fades or as it dawns. It can be almost like setting an alarm clock at times. After perhaps half-an-hour's cast and retrieve I'll say - "we should be getting bite in the next couple of casts!" and whammy - away we go - one after another the fish take our lures. If I'm after wrasse I wait until the sun is up and if I'm after conger, pouting or dogfish there's little point in arriving before it gets dark but fish hunting predators are suckers for dawn and dusk fishing.

In March and April things can be a bit slow along the Dorset coast but there's always the chance of a bass if you can be out there before it gets light or in late evening. In the past couple of weeks I've fished three or four times and the only fish we've caught were just as the sky was lightening but before the sun came up. Ben and I fished well into daylight one morning - nothing! Dave Baker and I had a short session in the early evening - same result. Twice my pals and I fished short sessions at first light and between us - three bass.

The reasons for this sort of fish behaviour are many but if you just think about a few examples (1)Night tidal plankton animals coming out of the beach to swim about in the surf at dusk, (2) Sandeels burrowing into the sediment as it gets dark and coming out again as it lightens up, (3) Baitfish such as sprats and herrings rising to the surface (and moving close in) at dusk and going down to the seabed at dawn. In tropical waters where the change of light takes place over just a few minutes the restricted activity of predators is even more obvious than in the UK, where the twilight is prolonged, but these three examples are enough to convince me. There are surely marks where you can catch plenty of fish on particular states of the tide irrespective of the time of day and there's lots of fun to be had by slowly twitching a plug or popper across the calm surface in pitch darkness or fishing knee deep in clear water with the sun on your back. Despite this, it's a fact that if you ignore the ends of the day you're liable to miss out on some wonderful sport.

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

Too late!

The sun's up - time to pack in and go for breakfast.

Too early!

Despite a bit of colour in the water the fish were not biting.

Just right!

Not as early as it looks but Phil has his first bass of the year.

The lure.

Phil's fish took a decent sized plug.

One for Ben.

Ben's first of the season taken shortly after Phil's fish.

-and one for me.

I also had this one at first light - again on a Maria plug.