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).

Versatile gear.

For many years I've been catching bass on plugs and one of the most consistent producers has always been the J11 floating Rapala. These lures have a balsa construction so they don't cast very far but what they lack in distance is amply compensated by the action. Even on the slowest retrieve it is possible to feel the lure vibrating like mad. With the advent of braided lines casting distance has improved so that even the smaller nine and seven centimetre versions can now be flicked out a reasonable distance. In fact a J9 can now easily be plonked to the far bank of my local rivers (sometimes actually onto the bank on a bad day - this is when the hefty braid is handy - see below). Another aspect of these lightweight lures is that they are shallow divers and work in the top few centimetres of water. With the present heavily weeded, low water conditions it can be a big advantage if the plug simply glides over the weed and pebbles in just ten centimetres of water. By casting up and across and winding quite fast with the flow it is possible to fish almost everywhere.

Anyway, I've been to the rivers a couple of times in the past week and each time I used a J9 black and silver Rapala as described above. The line was 14kg Whiplash braid and as always I had a a metre or so of 7kg Amnesia nylon and a short trace of knottable wire (the same strength as the nylon) on the end of the braid. All a bit too crude for low, clear water and wary fish perhaps? Not a bit of it! The results speak for themselves.

All of my fishing was on bright days in the afternoon or early evening - not, you might think - ideal conditions. My first catch was on a shallow glide over a bottom of clean flinty grit and it was a dace (what a surprise!) weighing ounces rather than pounds. The dace was followed by a series of perch from the same swim. Again they were all small fish and often I could see several little stripy shapes hurrying after the Rapala as it wiggled along.

The next 'swim' was a bit deeper and faster flowing over a carpet of water buttercup. Here I had a few follows from better chub but after the first time the interest of the fish gradually waned (it always does). Next, it was a bit of a wade across a deep streamy area (that's when I discovered the leak in my waders) and a cast into a slack pool under the far bank. Instantly there was a heavy pull and I was into a decent chub. I played the fish to my side, took its picture and unhooked it - perhaps three-and-a-half pounds or a bit more. I cast again to the same spot and immediately hooked another chub, slightly smaller than the first. All good entertainment.

The following day I went to another stretch of river and, using exactly the same tactics, I landed two seatrout and missed a couple more. The trout were just as keen as the coarse fish of the previous day.

I suppose the question you might ask about this sort of fishing is 'Why use such heavy tackle for these fish?' Well I suppose the truth is that I'm lazy and can't be bothered to change everything. However, there are lessons to be learned. Firstly, there's no doubt that I would be spinning with lighter gear if I thought it would catch me any more fish. The wire trace is essential because all my local rivers hold lots of pike but, otherwise, I could certainly step down to six or eight pound nylon if I wanted. This would give me no real advantages in casting or lure control and without doubt I'd be reluctant to pitch my lure into some of the weedy bays and snaggy, tree lined, overgrown spots that hold fish. Similarly I would have less positive contact with biting fish and might miss a few more by using stretchy nylon. Do I lose something in terms of the excitement of playing fish on light lines? No! My rod is light and the clutch setting of the reel is no different to if I was using finer lines and, of course, there is much less risk of losing a big fish with a lure dangling from its lip (or of leaving a lure stuck in a tree). It seems to me that this gear, if not ideal for spinning in the river, is a really good compromise

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 -


I'd called it a chub but my mistake was soon pointed out to me by my pal Richard.  Must look more carefully in future.

Small perch.

These greedy little chaps are probably the most frequent catches.


Larger chub don't fight much anyway and they love plugs.

Another chub.

These are probably my favourite catch.

Small seatrout.

Is it a myth about low, clear water requiring small flies and light tackle?

Better seatrout.

These fish put up a splashy, jumping fight whatever the tackle.


I managed a picture of me with the fish before I put it back.  It's in better condition than I am.