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).

24 February 2009.


In the first week or two that I moved to Dorset, forty-odd years ago, I spent most of my spare time fishing the Frome for roach and dace. My tactics were essentially the same as those that I'd used successfully on the River Tyne. I light legered big lumps of bread (crust for the dace, paste or flake for the roach). I almost always fished at night and I caught plenty of fish. The Dorset dace were so keen that I spent ages devising a tactic that would give me instant bite indication (they often pulled the line from my fingers as I tried to attach a dough bobbin). As it turned out it was simpler just to 'touch leger', feeling for the bites and I had numbers of two pound plus roach from both the Frome and the Piddle using these tactics.

Not long after I'd shifted to Wareham there was a terrible pollution when drums of used paint stripper were tipped into the Frome above Wool and this essentially finished my coarse fishing for some years. Over the succeeding years the fishing gradually returned to something like its former state but, by then, I was concentrating on sea fishing for bass and mullet and on catching salmon and pike from the rivers. However, other anglers continued to fish the Frome for coarse fish and it was only a matter of time before the two and three pound roach were again making the headlines. Downstream of Wareham bridge there is a free stretch and because of the wonders of modern communication (Angler's Mail, Angling Times, etc.) everyone interested in catching big roach is probably aware of the big fish that are now caught there.

I've not cast a line at Wareham for years but in the recent mild spell of weather my pal Nigel rang and suggested that we tried an evening session. I decided that it was a good chance to revive my old methods and see if they were still effective, so I rigged up a light leger with two AA shot for weight and a lump from a loaf as bait. When I got to the appointed spot Nigel was float fishing with maggots and he'd already caught and returned three modest roach. I popped out my bait and waited but in the space of an-hour-and-a-half, despite a couple of moves, all I managed was a single pathetic pull. I caught nothing. Nigel meanwhile had three more roach on his maggots. By the time I packed in (I don't have much patience and I was determined to 'stick to my guns') several other anglers, obviously 'regulars' had turned up and it was a bit like Piccadilly circus. The favoured methods seemed to be float fishing and swim feeder tactics, but I was told that it had been 'slow' of late.

To me the interesting thing was not so much the fact that I failed to catch (nothing new there) but that I didn't get loads of bites. Clearly there were roach there because Nige caught some. So what's the explanation? Perhaps it was the time of year - most of my fishing in the past was a Summer and Autumn activity. Most of the dace may well have moved upstream by now (it's getting near to their spawning time) so that would partly explain why bites were almost non-existant on my simple tackle. The roach seemed to 'go off' as it got dark so it's possible that they moved with the tide or shifted to another area as night fell. Anyway, I'll try to give it another go before the end of the season, possibly in some different spots - I don't believe that the fish behave any differently from what they used to.

Nige in action.

Unhooking one of his later roach (it's dark).  All his fish went straight back.

Nice fish.

Not one of the monsters that everyone hopes for but a beautiful fish.