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).

Brazil 2018 - Part II

As I mentioned in the last posting Richard and I spent quite a few evenings fishing from his two man kayak (on loan from his good pal Paulo). The general idea was to wheel the boat down to the beach (about 100m or so), launch it, hop in and paddle out to the reef a couple of hundred metres from the shore. Then we dropped the anchor and fished. Our first trip was a bit of a trial in that I took my bass gear while Richard had a short rod bought locally for the purpose and armed with his Christmas present (a new Okuma Trio spinning reel - he says it's "...the most robust reel he's tried so far" in the punishing tropical conditions). We were both using 30lb Whiplash braid with short lengths of nylon on the end followed by a circle hooks of between 4/0 and 8/0 in size. No leads, no floats, no beads, no booms. The only difference in our gear was the short trace of knottable wire above my hook (Richard relied on his 40lb Amnesia trace at this point).

Low water was the ideal time for setting out as the surf often became too rough for an easy launch when the water deepened. The kayak fishing was always after dark as we had to put the kids to bed before setting out. On our first session it soon became apparent that my spinning rod was too awkward for the way we were fishing, it can be tricky to manipulate the gear when your movement is restricted. Anyway, subsequently I resorted to a short (cheap but effective) rod like the one used by my son. For bait on this occasion we had a few frozen half-beaks and prawns - much the same as we'd normally use from the beach. The idea was to anchor the kayak just uptide of a gap in the reef, bait the circle hooks and lob the baits ten or fifteen metres downtide/downwind, leave the bale arm open and wait for a bite (hopefully it would be a 'run'). Any decent run was allowed to develop, the bale was quietly closed and, given a bit of luck, the rod then crashed over as a fish headed for the horizon. Just like freelining for bass at home in Dorset.

Previously Rich had only tried these tactics a few times so we were not certain what to expect. He already knew that morays, puffers, silver catfish and stingrays were a possibility and on one occasion, fishing single handed, he was almost spooled and ultimately lost something huge. Our catches on the first evening opened with a couple of silver catfish, rather disappointing but better than nothing; then we each landed a gafftopsail cat of which the biggest (perhaps three or four pounds) was the best we had ever seen. Then I had a fast, fierce run which dropped the half-beak bait. I cast again and within five minutes I had a similar bite and this time found myself playing a guachanche barracuda - another 'best' of its kind for us. Richard had the forceps so while he unhooked the fish I took a few pictures by twisting round and aiming the camera as best I could over my left shoulder - tricky! Time to paddle back but an excellent start. Richard knew that 'barracuda' species were present as we'd caught small sennet and guachanche while we were spinning in daylight but this fish was a good deal bigger than the ones we'd had before and caught on freelined bait at night - all good, new information!

A cracking gafftopsail catfish.

A decent guachanche.

Good set of teeth! An even bigger 'barracuda' to add to our list of kayak catches.

Our next kayak trip was on the brink of being foolish. We launched into a sizeable swell and after anchoring up in our usual spot by the reef it soon became clear from the water slopping around our rears that it was really too rough for fishing. Reluctant to pack in completely we up-anchored and paddled back until we found calmer conditions before starting to fish again. This time we were baiting with frozen pilchards bought from the local supermarket. To start with, however, Rich decided to try a few casts with one of my lumi-spinners - a Mepps type with a green, betalite body. After the anchor had found a purchase I lobbed out half a pilchard and Rich began to spin. On about his third cast he shouted that he "was in" and reeled in a three pound barracuda. At this point I realised that I hadn't brought the camera, so no pictures! While we were admiring his catch I had a run and found myself playing a good sea catfish. This is the biggest species of catfish found on the coast and Richard was suitably impressed. On the next cast with both of us using pilchard baits again it was me who had the run. Another sea catfish but twice the size of the first one. This one was a good double- the biggest we've had by some margin - and typically it fought like stink. Another excellent evening despite the enforced shift of position.

At this point in my stay the wind and tide deteriorated and we were forced to try new venues. One really promising spot for shore fishing was the estuary of the Sao Antonio river. In the past Richard has seen one or two reasonable fish caught there but despite our efforts spinning, beachcasting and freelining large baits we didn't manage a decent bite. We also tried from the shore close to the house but this only resulted in the usual tiny, jacks, silver catfish and croakers.

The beach by the River Sao Antonio - looks good but fishless for us.

Needless to say as soon as the conditions settled and the tides improved we were back in the kayak again. Now it was freelined pilchards all the way and although we had a couple of blanks this produced our two largest fish of the holiday. Our first attempt was looking grim as we fished for the best part of an hour without a decent bite then Rich had a good run. He closed the bale, the little rod hooped over and the clutch began to sing. For a while we were uncertain what was on the end but then a couple of episodes when the fish became immovable suggested that it was a ray. Sure enough after a few more minutes of give and take the big, square shape of a southern stingray came into view and Rich unhooked it as I snapped away with the little camera.

Stingrays can certainly pull a bit and this one was no exception..

Phew! Twenty pounds plus.

From the kayak even unhooking these fish can be tricky.

Our final effort from the Kayak was again a little on the slow side. Apart from a few tugs, pulls and chewed baits there was nothing until we were thinking about packing in then Rich had the long awaited bite. Something latched onto his sardine and set off downtide. He tightened and again it was on. Once more the battle was exciting and long drawn out until a stingray half as big again as the one we'd had previously hove into view. This fish was a real fighter and even after we'd played it to the side of the kayak it had the power to dive again and this time it wrapped the little rod round the boat before it gave up. After releasing the ray we had to have another cast or two and it was only minutes before Rich had another bite. This was clearly something different as it rocketed away with the clutch screaming before turning and heading uptide towards the anchor warp. As it hurtled past the boat, in the light of our headlamps we saw that it was a guachanche barracuda much bigger than any we'd ever seen - then it pinged the trace. A lesson in the need for a spot of wire even when you are bait fishing. Puffers and barracuda are just too toothy for 40lb nylon so I left my spools of wire with my son (it's hard to come by in Brazil). I'll do one more page later to show the last decent fish we had and recount a few of the non-fishy but interesting adventures.

An even better fish on and this time my son's looking rather more serious.

Unhooking the thirty-poundish stingray. Pity I didn't get a picture of the escaped guachanche.

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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