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).

More pike and grayling.

This will be the last page until late January. I've been to the river a couple of times in the run up to Christmas and because the weather had warmed up a bit the fish were pretty keen. Catching dace was a doddle provided I was in the right spot - the "right" spot(s) being steady flowing stretches in mill streams where the fish are beginning to gather before spawning time, early next year. In my local river dace are, for much of the year, the preferred food of pike so bait is easy to come by. The other main winter species are grayling, which grow large and are generally easy to tempt. On float gear there's a good chance of hooking grayling in the lips but legering they will often swallow the bait and require disgorging - not my favourite activity.

My first trip was with my pal Nigel who's a keen all-rounder. He fished a long rod, centrepin reel and a heavy float in search of grayling. The float makes it possible to get the bait down near the river bed in strong glides where the grayling tend to hang out. Interestingly, and in support of what I said earlier about locating dace, Nigel said he has never caught a dace in the main river when grayling fishing on our stretch. This is significant considering the hundreds of these fish which we catch from mill stream swims. Anyway, to cut a long story short, on the first trip I was about to pack in - pikeless - when Nigel started grayling fishing. I decided to watch him for ten minutes before I left. On the third swim down the float shot under and he was into a good grayling. Did it fight! It seemed ages before he was able to draw it over the net and slide it ashore. Nice one Nige! I took a couple of pictures and then left him to it. He rang later to say that he'd fished on for a couple of hours without another significant bite. That's fishing!

My next trip was just piking on my own. Christmas duties were calling so I only had an hour or so to spend. It took about five minutes to catch four decent dace (plus a couple of small trout and a grayling which were returned) for baits - phew! I dumped the float tackle in my car, picked up the pike rod and walked across the fields to the river. As usual I was using a size 6/0 circle hook with half of a wine-bottle cork as a float. It wasn't more than two minutes before the cork zipped away and I was into my first pike. By far the smallest I've had this winter so far at about four or five pounds. Despite its size the fish put up a fair struggle before being netted. My catch was nicely hooked in the upper lip (do pike have lips?) so I twisted the hook out and took a picture before returning it. By the time I finished fiddling about and taking pictures I found that time was already pressing. Just long enough to walk to a second possible 'hot spot' and try for another.

It was a ten minute walk to the next selected swim - a deep slack under the bank which often holds a fish. In went another bait and the cork bobbed round for a few minutes - it looked as though I had picked the wrong place. I scanned around. Just to my left (five or six metres) was a shallower spot with a floating mat of dead bur-reed leaves. I wound in and walked along before swinging the bait into place. The cork was dragged towards the floating vegetation as the bait headed for cover. Plop! The cork had gone. I slowly tightened and could feel the weight of a fish. It began to move off and I waited as the line tightened - I was in! This one fought a lot harder but it was only minutes before I had it in the net and on the bank. I took its picture and let it go before releasing the spare baits and heading for home.


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 -

Nigel trotting a maggot for grayling.


A beauty caught on his second or third cast.


The satisfied angler.


My tiddler - nice looking though.


The second pike - ready for the net with the cork still in place on the line.


It's in the net - about eight or nine pounds.


Worth a selfie as the last fish of this year.