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).

WHY!!!!

A couple of days back I wasnít intending to go fishing but when my pal Steve rang and said that he had a free evening and could drive down from Bristol I couldnít resist. Now, to begin at the beginning, Iíve hardly seen a mullet this year and although we were going to a potential mullet hotspot we thought that taking the fly gear would be futile. WRONG!!! Anyway, we only took the spinning rods in hopes of a bass. When we got to our appointed place, guess what? It was heaving with surface feeding mullet. There were no obvious Coelopa maggots in the water but clearly the mullet were skimming what there were from the surface film. Bugger!!!!! We flogged away for a couple of hours with poppers, plugs and soft plastics and eventually Steve had a couple of schoolies on a shallow diving plug. He was well pleased because it is some time since he caught a bass. The weather was superb so we went home happy with our fishing.

The following day Nigel rang me and I told him about the mullet so he decided to give them a try (I had to do the shopping so couldnít join him). As it turned out the mullet didnít appear until much later than the previous day (WHY???), so even though he had the fly gear and some lively maggots he didnít catch any. Again he had to be satisfied with a couple of small bass caught by spinning.

Two days later I could resist no longer so I primed the alarm for 03:30, set up the spinning rod and prepared for an early morning stint after the bass. When I got to the coast it was just coming light and I hadnít been fishing long before it became apparent in the calm conditions that there were lots of smallish fish (0.5lb to 2lb?) attacking small fry. Whatever they were I couldnít tempt them. I thought that it was probable they were feeding on little fish of some description and again I cursed myself for not taking the fly rod (will I never learn?). I fished for an hour-and-a-half with only two schoolies to show for my efforts (Is there a pattern emerging here?). Then I decided to walk back to the car. On my way I passed a nice looking gulley with lots of loose kelp in the water. I couldnít resist a cast with my weedless Slandra and blow me down, on the first chuck it was followed in almost to my feet by a big bass. Ten more minutes of cast and retrieve didnít elicit any more follows so rather disappointed I went on home for breakfast.

I was encouraged so I decided to have another go the following morning, this time taking my fly gear. When I arrived at the coast I found several early rising anglers had beaten me to it but I bashed on and began fly fishing. This time NOTHING!!! The conditions appeared to be identical but where I had seen so many rising fish the previous morning there were none. After Iíd been fishing for a little while my mates Rob and Mike arrived and started spinning but it soon seemed pretty obvious that we werenít going to tempt anything substantial. This time Iíd brought a couple of Waitrose pilchards with me thinking that I might be able to tempt the biggie that Iíd seen the day before and I said to Rob that I was going to go to where Iíd seen it and try free-lining a pilchard on my spinning rod and a 6/0 circle hook.

I left the others flogging away and plodded back to my mark. By this time it was low water and the gulley was empty so I walked along the ledge until I found about 30cm of water and gently lowered my pilchard onto a small patch of clean ground. I opened the bale arm and walked back until I found a comfy boulder to sit on and perched myself for a bit of a wait. I had the rod across my knees and held the braid between my fingers just in case. Iíd nothing to do but wait for the tide to rise and it was fifteen minutes or so before a tiny patch of weed disappeared signalling that it was on its way in. After another five or ten minutes there was probably an extra 30cm of depth and suddenly I felt the line twitch in my fingers. Now there are many exciting moments in fishing but for me this is one of the best.

The bow in the braid straightened and then fell slack again. I was holding my breath in anticipation but it was probably another minute before the line tightened again and began to run out through my fingers. Faster and faster it went and I guessed that probably ten metres had gone by the time I decided to engage the bale arm. The braid straightened and the tip of the rod began to curve round. The clutch began to zuzz and I was in! I staggered to my feet (Iíd been sitting on that cold rock for quite a while) and raised the rod to gain some sort of control. At the end of the line there was a mighty boil and the fish tore away out to sea as I guided the line round the boulders and weed. At this point I was really glad of the longish rod which allowed me to reach over a big lump of shale sticking up from the ledge. After that the bass behaved itself perfectly, stopping my heart by thrashing occasionally but mainly taking line against the clutch until eventually I was able to draw it back and slide it ashore onto the wet piles of kelp.

A couple of photos, unhook it, take a selfie (not a very good one), weigh it, 4.4kg (9.75lb) and then slip it back. Fantastic! I smiled all the way home. I almost felt that I deserved that one. Thank heavens for Waitrose sardines and Iíve still got two left.

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

Mullet.

Steve took this picture of surface feeding mullet - well before high water.

Steve's schoolie.

His second one was a bit bigger than this.

My bass.

Beautifully hooked on the 6/0 circle hook.

--and again.

Not much of a picture but one for the album.  It was as fat as a barrel.