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 four 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. 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 so if you are new to fly fishing or spinning these are the ones for you).

31 January 2008.

Three baits, three bites, three pike.

I've had two interesting, short, piking sessions on successive days this week. Both were in late afternoon (3.00pm-4.30pm) and on the first occasion I used three lures, a soft plastic, a spoon and a plug. On the second trip I took three 20cm dead baits and wobbled them, lip hooked, on a size 4/0 debarbed circle hook (no lead, no float, 'no nothing').

The lure fishing session produced nothing although a large pike (about twenty pounds) followed each lure in turn. After seeing it the first time I tried elsewhere, changed from the plastic to the spoon and came back to it. Again the fish followed almost to my feet but did not take. I tried elsewhere (fishless) changed to a J13 Rapala and came back once more. This time it followed in a more purposeful manner but still would not get hold of the lure. A blank!

On the following afternoon I picked three frozen deadbaits from the fridge and set off with the intention of catching the reluctant pike. For ten minutes I combed the pool where it had been, twitching and sliding the bait through every nook and cranny - not a sign! I left the pool and went further upstream. at the next pool the bait was worked along the edge and just as it reached a clump of reeds on the corner of the slack I saw a large fish nip out and grab it. It swam into the middle of the slack and I tightened gently to my circle hook. The fish was on and put up quite a battle before I was able to slide it into the net. It was only as I lifted it onto the bank that I noticed the tail and rear end of a fish sticking out of the pike's mouth. Inspection showed it to be a small salmon kelt which, when removed, weighed four pounds. The front end of the salmon was well digested with no skin remaining but the back section was still in good order with red spots, scales, adipose fin, the lot. The pike, minus its prey, weighed 23lb, a nice fish but certainly not the one I'd seen the day before. Now I've encountered this sort of thing before before and I'm pretty well convinced that, at this time of the year, big pike regard dead and dying, post-spawning, salmon and trout as a bonus meal. In effect they're cleaning up the river bed and I guess that a big, static or slowly twitched dead bait is just what they expect to find - I doubt that relatively fast moving artificials are very tempting to these well fed specimens. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is WHY and indeed HOW a fish with its throat and jaws totally blocked by a huge prey item manages to engulf a relatively small bait.

After weighing and photographing my catch I moved on and before I packed in the second and third baits each produced a pike weighing about eight and ten pounds respectively. All three pike were nicely hooked and easily released from my barbless circle hook.


That's what I call a mouthful.

Better view.

There's no doubt that the fish had a full mouth.  How did it manage to squeeze my bait in?

Sorry pike!

After removing the salmon I could see that the front end was already in an advanced state of digestion, so the meal was not all that recent.

Pike number 2.

Not as big as the first but again well hooked on my circle hook.

--and number 3.

this one was bigger and came from a tiny slack close to a fast turbulent run.

Time to go home.

The sun ws going down and it was getting cold - time for dinner.