, nylon leader Mike Ladle's Fishing Diary

Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page


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).

A red letter day.

First bass since lockdown.

Like most (?all) anglers I was over the moon when I heard, at the weekend, that from Wednesday 13th May I would be allowed to go fishing again. To be honest my wife and I have stuck to the isolation and distancing rules pretty well; even though, if I had gone fishing, it was unlikely that I'd ever have seen anyone else, let alone talked to them or exchanged sneezes.

Anyway, 'Sod's Law' dictated that after weeks of beautiful, warm, Dorset weather, things changed after that weekend: an icy blast came down from the north. Undaunted, on the Tuesday I looked at the tide tables to see whether anywhere suggested itself as a likely venue for my first foray. What I saw was not good. It would be a tiny neap tide (even tinier than usual for this part of the coast) and I was slightly at a loss. I rang/emailed one or two of my pals to see if they had any suggestions, but the general consensus was that it would be 'suck-it-and-see!'. As it turned out each of us decided to try a different stretch of coastline and to hope for the best.

The windy, cold weather was not the only problem because, for some reason, even though we were told by BoJo that we were allowed to travel to open spaces, virtually all the car parking along the coast would remain closed. Irritating or what? I made my decision and looked at a surfer's website to determine the time of first light. Just after 04:30hr - fantastic! I set the alarm for 03:50hr and arranged all my gear - waders, warm clothing, fingerless gloves, jacket, hat, headlamp, bag with pliers, scissors, tape, lures, camera (now there's optimism for you!) etc.etc. Then I picked up the old Surespin with its new, hardly used, reel and braid, tied on a fresh trace of 15lb clear Amnesia and knotted on a white EvoStix, weedless, soft-plastic lure armed with a needle-sharp Texposer hook. I propped the rod up beside the pile of clothing and the bag and went to bed.

I woke, reached out and pressed the button to light up the clock - 03:45, the alarm was due to go off at any moment, so I switched it off and crept out of bed. I dressed quickly and put the kit in my old car. I'd driven about four hundred metres and realised that the dashboard light had gone off. Everything else seemed to be OK but I couldn't see the instruments. So, I turned round and set off back to borrow Lilian's car - and the light came back on! I guess it was just the long stand that had caused a spot of damp or something. Phew! I turned again (like Dick Whittington) and set off back to the coast.

As I drove along I glanced to the east and could see the sky lightening - so much for the surfer's idea of 'first light', clearly it wasn't the same as mine. There was no further excitement so I drove to the appointed spot. No sign of any other cars or people, so I parked up, picked up the bag and rod and set off for the water (not very far). Couldn't resist a cast or two at most unlikely places as I walked, but it was nice just to get a line out and feel the lure working after my longest lay-off in well over fifty years.

The ledge where I fished.

After fifteen minutes or so I arrived at the ledges where I intended fishing. It was already fairly light and the tide was much higher than I expected, but the water was reasonably clear, there was a surface chop and stronger tidal flow than I'd anticipated. Not bad conditions. The wind was about force six and very chilly but it was more or less at my back, so I tottered onto the ledge and flicked the plastic eel ten metres or so down and across the current. No problem. I could feel the tail of the lure wagging and occasionally it tapped a rock or bumped a frond of weed on its way back. Two or three more casts with nothing then I lobbed it a bit further, held the rod up and watched the line swing across the flow. It went solid. Bugger! I thought, it's snagged the bottom. Then the snag gave a kick and I realised that I was into a fish. It crossed my mind that it must have been a long time since I had used a rod for me not to realise, at once, that I had a fish on.

A fine littel bass perfectly hooked on the EvoStix.

I played the splashing, tugging bass back to the rocks at my feet and slid it ashore - a lovely little silver fish of about one kilo. How good did that feel? I took the bag off, got out the little camera and took a couple of pictures before unhooking my catch and returning it to the sea. Magic! I picked up the rod and cast again to the same spot. Ten seconds later wallop! I was in again. This was clearly a bigger fish than the last one and it pulled pretty hard. I played it carefully and when it came into view I decided that it was well over twice the weight of the first one. However,as it slid onto the rocks I could see that it was very thin, clearly just spawned. The bass measured 56cm (fork length) on the tape and it only weighted 1.6kg. This one had totally engulfed the lure but was only lightly hooked on a gill arch so again I unhooked and released it.

Bigger but not 'better' - pretty thin.

By now it was very bright and I could just see an orange glimmer of the rising sun. To be honest I'd been thinking on and off about whether the car was allowed to be parked where I'd put it. So, after a few more biteless casts I decided that honour was satisfied, packed in and walked back. Must try again soon.

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



"Fishing for Ghosts - Successful Mullet Angling"

written with David Rigden IT'S AVAILABLE FROM - "The Medlar Press"


“The Second Wave”

Written with Steve Pitts this is a SEQUEL TO THE BESTSELLER "Operation Sea Angler" IT'S AVAILABLE ON PAPER OR FOR YOUR KINDLE FROM - "Veals Mail Order" and from Amazon "Amazon"