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).


It doesn't matter how experienced you are there is often a large slice of luck in fishing. The other day I took my friend Terry, who was in Dorset on holiday, fishing for seatrout in a local river. Now Terry's a very experienced angler and like me enjoys fishing for anything. It was a pleasant morning and we opted to fish with small plugs which have been producing a few fish for me. As it happened slow wasn't the word for the fishing and apart from a small fish which grabbed my pal's lure almost as it hit the water we blanked.

A couple of days later I decided to have half-an-hour on the same stretch in the evening because, despite our poor result, it had looked really 'fishy'. I'd only been fishing for five minutes when a decent trout - perhaps three pounds - followed my Rapala in almost to my feet. It refused to take but, encouraged by the follow, I moved on upstream. I reached a stretch where I'd caught a big pike a couple of weeks back and began to cast down and across. I had a pluck in the fast water but the trout failed to hook itself. Three casts later I pitched the plug hard against the other bank into a little reed lined bay. Two turns of the handle and wallop, the rod bowed over and a big fish exploded from the water.

I knew at once that I'd hooked a seatrout and for a minute or two I lost control as it rushed about between periodic bouts of thrashing and leaping. Provided the hook hold did not give way I was pretty confident about the gear. I was using the 26lb Nanofil that had already caught me a couple of big pike and a salmon and had effectively tamed a very big salmon earlier in the season before it managed to straighten the hooks of my J9 Rapala. After that the hooks had been replaced with 2x Owner trebles so no problem there. It was probably five or ten minutes before I managed to subdue the fish enough to land it and take its picture before sliding it back. For interest I emailed a picture to Terry and he responded with a photo of a big trout that he'd caught from the beach near his home. Cracking fish seatrout!

A day or two later - pleased wth my success - I decided to try again. It was evening and the nights are drawing in so I didn't expect to fish for very long, as I had to go out the following morning. However, I think the story is worth telling.

For about three-quarters-of-an-hour I wandered upstream casting into likely spots. I had a couple of bites both of which failed to contact the hooks of my Rapala. By now it was pretty dark and I had not brough a lamp so I decided to make my way back to the car. I was picking my way gingerly down the last field trying to avoid stepping into the river, regularly stumbling over tussocks of grass and frequently stepping into nice sloppy cow pats. I mumbled to myself as I walked. By now I could see almost nothing and suddenly an even blacker bit of night turned into a dark brown cow only inches from my nose. I slowly negotiated the cud chewing animal and walked on even more slowly in case I bumped into any more of its mates.

I was almost back to where I'd parked the car when I came to a bend where I knew that there was a nice pool. I'd tried it on the way up with no result but I was tempted to give it another go. I knew that my wife would already be wondering where 'the silly old sod!' had got to in the dark, so one or two casts would make no difference. I took the plug out of the butt ring and made a gentle cast which I knew would fall short of the far bank. I began to wind and CRASH!!! I was in! The fish went berserk out in the darkness, repeatedly leaping and rushing all over the pool. How could I land it? I knew there was a shallow bank a few metres downstream so I took four or five paces along the bank before slithering a couple of feet down the muddy slope onto firm gravel. Obstacle one negotiated.

I was reasonably confident of beaching my fish and sure enough after five minutes of runs and leaps I slid it ashore onto the wet muddy gravel. Now I had to get the hook out and I'd like a picture!!!! I swung the bag off my back and groped about for my pliers in its top pocket (there was no way I was going to put my hands near the fish with two razor sharp trebles hanging off the lure). After a minute or so I managed, purely by feel, to grip the tail treble and unhook the fish. Now a picture. Back to the bag! Where was the bag? I couldn't see it in the gloom. I floundered about and eventually tripped over the bag. Phew!!! I put the pliers back in and picked up the camera. Now to take a picture. Where WAS the fish??? I couldn't see it at all. I peered into the darkness. Was that a glint of moonlight reflecting off something? I took a pace towards it and sure enough there lay the seatrout. Five shots later I eventually managed to get more than five percent of the fish in the frame. I just had to hope that the little camera would focus without any illumination other than the flash.

I picked the trout up - much smaller than my previous one, only about seven pounds I guessed - and slipped it back into the water. With a flick of its tail it splashed muddy water all over my specs. I deserved that. I managed to collect the bag and the rod after a bit of a search and then it was back to the car, vowing that if I tried in the dark again I'd take a headlamp. Oh! And I did get a rocket from my wife for staying out late without letting anyone know where I was. I deserved that too.

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 -

Got one.

Terry unhooks our only catch of the session.


Small but beautifully marked.


My big fish caught the next time I went out.


 - I should say so.

Terry's trout.

This one was caught from the sea on a J13 Rapala.

From the dark.

It looks as if it had been in the river for a while but a nice fish nonetheless. I think that's a lamprey wound by the end of the pectoral fin.