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).

16 June 2008.



I used to do a fair bit of salmon fishing but in recent years I've more or less given up. The stocks locally have diminished about five-fold and it seems almost a shame to catch one. If you do catch one it has to be unhooked and returned with care so at least part of the rationale for doing it (a tasty meal) has gone.

The fishing along my stretch of the coast has been slow (polite description) lately so the other day I bought a few prawns from ASDA (99p for a year's supply of bait) and decided to see if I could still catch a salmon. Of course you can catch these fish by fly fishing or spinning but, to be honest, there is so much weed growth this year that neither of these tactics is really an option. Even bait fishing is tricky and you're constantly having to extract the bait from beds of Ranunculus or pondweed.

There's no need for an early start if your trying to catch salmon and I arrived at the river bank under a blue cloudless sky and in a temperature of about 18 degrees. I was wearing my chesties and a plastic jacket because there had been rain the day before followed by a heavy dew and the waist-high vegetation along the banks was saturated.

The tackle was simple; my bass rod and reel, a little swivel, a treble with the barbs flattened, a straightened paper clip, four feet of sewing thread and one of my 'fishmonger's' prawns. The paper clip was shoved up the prawn's bum after removing the tail fan and the sharp plates on either side of its head were also nipped off. One point of the treble was progged into the crustacean's mouth and then the whole lot was mummified by wrapping it in thread from tail to head.

A small bomb weight was looped onto a short dropper and the whole lot was dangled into the river. The weight was just big enough to find the bottom but not too big to prevent the current carrying it along when I raised the rod tip. In this way it is possible to bounce the rig along with the prawn wavering along ahead of the weight. I started at the upstream end and began to work my way down. It was difficult. However carefully I manipulated the gear the line snagged in cow parsley, the hooks constantly caught up in weed and had to be cleared and after half an hour the prawn was so mankey that I had to replace it. Unwind the thread , push the spike up the rear end of another one and bind it on. the thread was fine so no need to replace it. Another half an hour and I was sweating like a pig in the rubber trousers and plastic jacket 'You're getting too old for this Ladle!' I told myself.

I was probably able to fish only about five percent of the potential 'salmon spots' but I persevered and, as I stood knee deep in mud and water with the rod held at arm's length over the nettles I felt a couple of bangs and struck. The fish went berserk doing a sort of crocodile death roll. I remember thinking it was a bit like hooking a small conger. I felt that there was little point in letting the fish plough into the weed beds so I hung on tightly as it careered up and down the pool. Eventually the salmon seemed a bit more subdued so I slipped the carp net into the water and slid the fish over it. Typically, the trebles protruding from the fish's mouth got hung in the mesh - I hate nets for this sort of fishing. Anyway, I managed to slide it ashore, take a quick picture and slide it back. The flattened barbs made unhooking easy and the fish seemed to be in mint condition as it went back.

The 'rig'.

Weight, hook and straightened paper clip with thread attached.

Plus the bait.

Just a bog standard 'prawn' (technically I think it's a pink shrimp).  I nip off the bits that are arrowed so they don't get in the way of a taking fish.

Mummified bait.

I use plenty of thread so that the bait doesn't come loose.


A nice fat salmon, jaw hooked on the debarbed treble and ready to go back.