Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page

Freshwater 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).

Bigger pike.

One great benefit of my website is that I often have interesting emails from people who I have never met. A little while back I had the following correspondence with Jens Obermöller from Germany. Jens' English is very good but I've edited it a tiny bit while keeping to exactly what he said -

Dear Mike,

I’m a German “addict” of pike fishing (so please excuse all deficiencies in my English) and I recently had the opportunity to read your excellent book "Tactical Pike Fishing“. It supplied me with a lot of interesting insights and I can acknowledge a lot of your conclusions from my own experience. I would like to bring to your attention a short description of one of my favourite waters. For a couple of years – regarding pike fishing - this lake has remained a complete mystery for me.

The water in question is a privately owned lake in the middle of Denmark. It stretches a length of 2 km and is about 500 m broad. A small sized river runs into one end and flows out the other. Maximum depth is concentrated in one area and is roughly 4 – 6 m - the rest of the lake is about 1.5m to 4m deep. The bottom rarely shows any significant structure – or in other words is mostly “flat as a bath tub”. Near the banks it tends to be very shallow and some of the areas have a lot of weed or water lilies while other areas hold broader stretches of reed. Prey fish are abundant in all sizes and consist mostly of bream, roach and perch.

We fished this lake during spring time and in the autumn, from or near the bank using mostly artificial baits but also from time to time natural live or dead baits. Over the years we have landed more than 200 pike – sometimes more than 20 a day. But the maximum length was “cut off” between 60 to 70 cm. Not a single pike was bigger than that – but significantly smaller pike are also unusual. What do you think of this? Is there any potential for bigger pike in this lake? Why do there seem to exist only “one sized pike”? If you have the time I would be looking forward to read a first estimation of the situation from your side.

With best regards! Yours sincerely,

Jens Obermöller

I gave it a bit of thought and replied as follows -

Dear Jens,

Thankyou for the email. Logic suggests that, even if there is an upper size limit of some sort (which I doubt with all the food that is there), there must be plenty of smaller pike in the lake. The first thing that occurs to me is that when we first fished my local river, the Dorset Frome, we were only allowed to use artificials and these were mostly small (up to 10-12cm) and slim in profile. For several years we never caught a pike bigger than 4kg. On switching to big deadbaits, livebaits and lures (20cm+), 25% of the pike caught weighed over 5kg (many of 8-10kg and up to 14kg). So the size and nature of lures may limit the upper size of pike caught. At the other extreme, small pike (up to 45cm) may be in rather different areas to their larger relatives so it is possible that (a) you are not finding them and (b) the smallest ones (<40cm) are less inclined to take your lures - so the sample may be biased. If it were me I would concentrate on large livebaits and wobbled deadbaits (25cm) to try and select for bigger fish. I think that the bigger pike may be in the same areas as the ones you are catching but reluctant to take (small) lures. Having said that there are certainly waters where there is a high proportion of middle sized fish but I doubt that is the case in Danish lakes.

When I was younger (many years ago) I fished the lakes near Silkeborg on Jutland (Denmark) on two or three occasions. Unfortunately I was not familiar with pike fishing in those days but I recall professional fishermen catching large pike from shallow banks in the lake by using big deadbaits, weighted and fished 'sink and draw' on handlines. They also caught good zander and pike on live fish in the same areas.

I hope that you manage to catch some bigger fish soon - please let me know how you get on. I'll be starting my pike fishing soon (when the sea fishing goes off).

Regards and good luck,


A little later I had a second email from Jens -

Dear Mike,

I would like to give you a short follow-up of our fishing trip to the “one size only” lake in Denmark which we discussed before. We spent four days fishing there and luckily we had very good weather conditions with moderate winds, cloudy but nearly no rain. Temperatures were considerably low with some thin ice near the banks of the lake every morning.

As I wrote before we used a boat this time. Fishing consisted mainly of slowly trolling large deadbaits on a float rig - and it worked!!!! We were able to catch about 12 pike and all of them were over ten pounds.

Your ideas of selectivity of size and shape of the bait was strongly confirmed. Interestingly the first two days we used big roach which were easily caught in the lake. Due to a number of takes we were not able hook because of the size of the bait (we used only single hooks) we changed to dead trout which we bought from a local fishery the third and fourth day. The trout were smaller and naturally the shape was much slimmer. While using trout the number of takes dropped sharply.

Regarding the location of the bigger pike: all the takes happened in the open water – and in the deeper part of the lake (4-7m). The considerable area of shallower water (2-4m) brought no takes and the fishing close to the banks neither. Most of the takes took place when the bait was trolled in a depth of about 1-2 m. Fishing near the ground brought no success.

For us it was an “eye-opening” experience – because we had lost confidence in this water before (even so every time we went there we had to confess that it seemed to be a perfect lake for pike!). I searched most of the pike literature but was not able to find descriptions of such extreme cases of selectivity of larger bait.

What do you think of the fact that all the pike were taken from the open water (more than 50 m away from the banks)? As we verified by using an echo sounder their are no significant ground structures nor weed in these open water areas.

Thanks again for all your advice!!

Best regards

Jens Obermöller

I was very pleased that Jens and his pal caught some good fish but had to say that I was surprised that none were closer to the shore. I wrote again -

Dear Jens,

Fantastic! I'm really pleased that you managed to catch some decent pike.

The 'open water' situation of your fish is of some interest. I guess that you really need to know details of the contours of the lake bed. Could the fish have been situated along sharp slopes or drop offs? It is quite surprising (to me) that there were no takes in 2-4m depths as pike usually favour such shallower areas. I wonder whether there is a problem with blue green algae or other biological or chemical conditions in the shallower water? Anyway, clearly you will now catch plenty of bigger pike and results will improve with experience.

Would it be OK to use your letters (emails) on my website sometime (other anglers will no doubt be interested)? In relation to this do you have one or two pictures of your fish that I might also use? Of course I shall understand perfectly if you don't want me to.

Please keep in touch and let me know when you land the first 10kg fish, as I'm sure you will.



Jens replied as follows but I don't suppose that I've heard the last of this fascinating stury. I can't wait for his next trip -

Dear Mike,

Of course you can use our correspondence on your website. Regarding the photos I will send you a selection this evening.

The “open water" situation of the fish is in fact very interesting. As I mentioned in the beginning, all the smaller pike – in contrast - were caught from the bank or wading near the bank. As we have observed the pike also use the shallow areas for spawning.

The lake is situated in a moraine landscape and this is reflected in the ground structure as well. Everything is smoothly curved without any sharp slopes or drop offs. The ground is mostly flat (as I said 'like a bathtub'). The bottom tends to be hard and only in the very deep areas it becomes more muddy. Water is relatively clear.

What makes it even more peculiar is the fact, that all the areas with considerable reed and weeds border on relatively deep water of 2-3 m – which should be sufficient also for larger pike.

What we do not know exactly is how the prey fish behave in this lake (subjectively they seem to be everywhere…).

So it remains suspenseful…. but we will work on the subject – and keep you informed!


Jens Obermöller

How about that? I'd love to give it a try some time - it's over fifty years since I fished in the Danish lakes. Anyway, it will have to be 'proxy' fishing for me and I'm sure that the big 'pay off' for Jens and his pal Oliver is yet to come.

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 -

Nice pike!

Jens is obviously well pleased with the catch - and so he should be.

and another -

One for Jens' fishing pal Oliver. They really are beautiful fish!

and another -