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).

The swim feeder.

There is no doubt that when it comes to fishing (and most other activities) I'm a dinosaur. For someone who has been keen on angling for well over seventy years my knowledge of some of the more recent developments in our sport is laughable. Just one or two examples - I no longer possess anything that might be regarded as a beach caster; I don't have a centrepin reel nor do I have a multiplier; I have only one fly line a single, weight-forward, floating version for my 8 weight fly rod; I've never used a boilie. Some of these devices I've tried in the past and found wanting, some of them just don't fit into the sort of fishing I do and others simply didn't seem like a very good idea to me. I'm not exhibiting my deficiencies for everyone's amusement, it's simply that the other day I went for a 'feeder fishing' lesson on the river with my pal Adrian Pinder and he suggested that I ought to use a 'small' hook. "What do you mean by small? I asked. "Nothing bigger than a size 16." Came the reply. Now the last time I used a hook that small is lost in the mists of time. Of course my pals often mock me but I was never susceptible to being shamed. Anyway, to come to the point, as I said in my last Freshwater piece, I have recently been trying a swim feeder for grayling fishing.

The local seatrout season finished recently and there are some decent grayling in my local rivers so I fancied catching one or two. Now I've caught a fair few of these beautiful fish before on float fished maggots but I was conscious that they seemed to be susceptible to the use of a swim feeder in the hands of other less bigotted anglers. I rooted in the appropriate tackle drawer and amazingly I found two of these clumsy, plastic tubes weighted with strips of lead. I'd had them for many years and they'd never seen water (you see - my memory hasn't gone yet - someone must have given me them because I certainly wouldn't have paid out good money for such monstrosities). Anyway I dug out the lighter of the two, rigged it on a simple paternoster on my light spinning rod, tied a size 12 hook onto some 6lb nylon (no Adrian , not a size 18) and I was ready. I popped into the tackle shop and bought a pint of maggots and went to the river. As I said last time I caught one or two but it was SLOW! Adrian had told me that when you find the fish they can be caught in decent numbers using this technique. Not by me! There were two down sides to the operation apart from having to lob this massive device into the water. Firstly I wasn't getting many bites (It WASN'T the lack of a quiver tip - another thing I don't have), one thing I can do is tell when I have a bite and anyway, I'd already feedered out a couple of minnows. Secondly it was using up a lot of maggots - every minute or two I'd have to refill the feeder and several quid's-worth of maggots was going nowhere at this rate (remember that bait for my average carp session costs about 30p and if I have to buy the fish-bait for bassing it's 50p's worth). That's another thing you might have noticed - I'm a bit tight when it comes to spending.

Back to the fishing. My lesson from Adrian was a bit of a disaster because it had poured down with rain the previous night. So, although I learned a lot I caught zippo. What to do? Well I thought I'd try to fish where I was confident that there was something to catch so that I could tell whether it was me or the fish causing a problem. Adrian had given me a couple of pints of surplus maggots (he was going away for a few days) so I took my feeder rig to the spot where I catch my pike baits - generally dace. I baited the (big) hook, stuffed the feeder with maggots, plopped it in and held the rod in 'touch legering style'. The feeder had scarcely hit the bottom when I was into a six ounce dace, amazing! Fill the feeder, swing it out again - another dace. This was too good to be true. I could feel the fish tugging on the rod top and in fact by allowing a tiny bow of slack I could see the line twitching as the fish took. It was dead easy. This confirmed that at least I hadn't been missing bites on my previous sessions. After catching a dozen or more dace plus a couple of small trout and a little grayling I packed in, took a couple of baits and went pike fishing.

Within a couple of minutes of lowering the first bait into the water I had a take, played the pike for a while and then it came unstuck from the barbless circle hook. I attached another bait, moved about ten metres, lowered the bait into another likely spot and promptly hooked another pike. The whole procedure was now repeated even to the ultimate escape of the pike - a bit bigger than the first one. What a downer - I'd have to go back and catch another bait. I trudged back to the 'dace hole' and in two casts had caught two more baits. I decided that the first pike had now had time to get over its experience and plonked the bait in again. The cork bobbed round for a few minutes and then shot under. This time I made no mistake and it wasn't long until I had a hard fighting pike (surely the same one I'd lost at first - it looked a similar size) was in the net; 70cm long, 9lb and in good nick. The second pike wouldn't be tempted a again so I went home.

A couple of days later Nigel rang and asked if I fancied an hour or two on the river. This time I took a few pike baits with me and my pal was armed with his grayling tackle - long rod, centrepin reel and float gear. In truth we both struggled. I couldn't buy a bite from a pike and Nigel wasn't doing much better with his float fishing. Ultimately he managed a small trout and when I tired of being pikeless I switched to my little spinning rod and swim feeder. It was amazing; I'd barely started fishing, perhaps the third or fourth cast, when the tip whipped round and I was playing a decent fish. Nigel appeared with the net and took my picture holding a 1.75lb grayling. That as they say was that, so we packed in and went for our teas.

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 -

The first pike, ten pounds and looking good.

One of many stonking dace caught on the feeder.


The nine pound pike caught at the second time of asking.


Nicely hooked on my big barbless circle hook.


Cracking, one and only, grayling on the feeder.