Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page

23 December 2004.

Merry Christmas and Good Fishing in 2005.

Dear All,

For those of you who have not had an e-mail or a letter this Christmas Ė Iím sorry! Put it down to my ageing memory and my usual incompetence. Anyway, hereís a version of it for everyone. Another year has passed away and I seem to have done my fair share of fishing (itís never enough of course). Even after all these years of angling I seem to be learning lots of new things. Almost every session, even in my local rivers and ponds, gives me new ideas or changes my mind about something.

As usual I had a couple of holidays in Tobago with my family and (in September) a few fishing pals and I spent a fair chunk of my time wetting a line. Again we had fantastic sport with jacks, bonefish, barracuda, snook and snappers but in truth this was the year of the tarpon. Richard, Steve Pitts and me had all caught numbers of smallish tarpon before and we had all lost our fair share of them. In September however we hit the jackpot.

In fact we had set out to catch jacks on surface poppers so we were quite surprised (but not too disappointed) when the first take was from a huge fish that hurled itself clear of the water in a shower of spray Ė and came off. It was an even bigger surprise when one of these mighty fish Ďstuckí and was played almost onto the beach before escaping (to be fair we did not know what to do with it.). Then Steve Pitts landed a bigger fish (with a little help from his friends) and the following morning Steve Hill played an even larger one (his first ever) almost to a standstill before it pulled the hooks from the lure. Breathtaking stuff. To add to the memories of the one-week trip we encountered hurricane Ivan and although it cut off electricity and deprived us of bog rolls for a couple of days we enjoyed every minute.

For me there is nothing quite as satisfying as exploring fishing with one or two other keen anglers. There is no doubt that it matters little who catches the fish. Itís always particularly satisfying to see someone experience catching his or her first fish of any description whether it is a tiny perch or a big barracuda.

Not all the fishing was as exciting as Tobago. In November we (Steve and me) were desperate to finish making a bass fishing video/DVD. We went with Alan Vaughan and Geoff Hancock to Cork for a couple of days to try and get the last shots. The fish were almost absent following a big storm but it was wonderful cliff-climbing, rock-hopping, surf-wading ecstasy.

Overall I had a reasonable year with plenty of small bass plus one or two decent ones. The most satisfying was the eight-pounder on a free-lined bait fished only a couple of metres from the edge. I also had some (not many) nice mullet on the fly and lots of mackerel, pollack, and scad on my fly gear. Now, in winter, I am showing my grandson Ben (age 7) how to fish. He is dead keen Ė I donít know where he gets it from!

The family have all kept fit and well and Lilianís archaeology at Bestwall is gradually coming to an end (Iíll believe it when I see it). This year Lilian has produced a really good little picture book summarising the work and she is currently putting together the massive scientific monograph (scheduled for 2006). I've pout a couple of Jane Brayne's reconstructions on just for interest. My fishing website seems to increase in popularity week by week and I get quite a lot of feed back from it, so the more the merrier and keep in touch in 2005.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. All the best.


A few pictures to warm you up in the winter cold.

One of Alan's crevalle jacks.

Are they pleased or what?.

The two Steves with another nice jack.

The fish of the week!

Too much for words.

My best snook.

Smaller than the others but no less satisfying.  Note the rainwear - it's not always sunny.

A Bronze Age house.

The Middle Bronze Age is well represented in Lilian's site at Bestwall..

A Roman pottery.

Thirty-two kilns and two tonnes of Black Burnished Ware pottery were excavated.

As the sun sinks slowly in the west.

I'll be back!


I had another visit from my grandson Ben this week. As usual his first words were - "Can we go fishing grandad?" We had had a fair amount of rain over the previous couple of days so I was not too sure how we would find the river. Anyway we tackled up and set off. There were a few leftover maggots in the box (red, Christmassy maggots as it happened.) so Ben started off by float fishing. He had never baited up by himself before so I showed him how to put a maggot on the barbless hook. Then I showed him how to follow the float downstream by swinging the rod tip around at the same sort of speed as the flow. Ben soon picked up the idea and it was not long before he was into dace of reasonable size. He really enjoyed feeling them pull the rod tip over.

In fact the river was a bit murky but after we had landed several dace and a nice grayling (which fought much harder) Ben asked if we could try piking. I was not too optimistic, with the River colouring up fast, but it was worth a go. As we walked upstream the wind was getting up and it was so strong at one point that Ben had to hang onto my coat to avoid being blown into the River. We tried several pools to no avail and it seemed to be getting colder and windier so it was back home for a bite to eat.

Since catching his big pike Ben's last two trips have been down to earth with a bump. Fishing reality has set in in the form of six shore crabs on our flounder fishing session and the above dace and grayling. The good thing is that it does not seem to put him off. He's coming to Tobago with me in February so he will see yet another aspect of fishing over there.

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 -

Lovely dace!

Dace are wonderful little fish.

The grayling.

Ben was float fishing maggots in the stream just behind him.

A closer look.

Grayling bite hard and pull much better than the dace.