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).

A very versatile lure.

Whatever you might think there's no such thing as a 'best' lure. I suppose it's obvious that lures should be chosen according to what you are fishing for and the conditions you have to contend with. However, certain lures are so effective that it's easy to become obsessed with them. Over the years I've seen it all. One of my pals lost a favourite Rebel plug and found it difficult to fish with any hope of success for months afterwards. For catching big snook my son Richard in Brazil really likes the 'Black Minnows' (which he can't get over there) and it knocks his confidence when his stock of bodies runs out. Of course the lure manufacturers are constantly trying to bring out their latest 'must have' design but rarely does one of these gadgets actually improve on what has gone before. Little tweaks in casting weight, fishing depth, size and shape can sometimes come in handy but on the whole there are only half-a-dozen or so worthwhile types and whatever is written to suggest that you should constantly chop and change colours or forms is a kind of strategy of desperation which doesn't appeal to me. There are hard bodied lures I wouldn't be without including a surface popper or slider, a shallow diver, a spoon and a spinner and the soft plastics must ideally embrace weighted and unweighted, exposed hook and weedless types. Inevitably you may need to allow for the prey size preference of your target species but that's about it.

If I go to my local rivers, particularly in the recent weedy, low water, summer conditions, the first thing out of my bag is still a jointed, floating Rapala. These balsa-bodied shallow diving lures have an amazing action which is killed by the slightest bit of algae or leaf caught on the lip or one of the hooks. You might think that this sensitivity to tiny pieces of 'crap'was a disadvantage but, particularly when you are fishing with light braid, you can feel every vibration and be certain if the lure stops 'working'. This saves a lot of fishing time using a fouled plug by allowing you to swing it in, clean it up and cast again. I generally stick to a black and silver pattern but I suspect it doesn't make much difference. I'll just give an example from a recent spot of river fishing.

I was using my little Teklon spinning rod, 20lb braid, a 15lb Amnesia trace and a short wire trace to avoid bite offs by pike. I could fish lighter but there doesn't seem to be any need and I rarely lose a lure these days. I clipped on the 9cm Rapala and began to search the water. It was hot and sunny when I started and the fishing was a bit on the quiet side. It was difficult to fish because there was Ranunculus weed everywhere. After a while I had my first take, from a hole behind a trailing bush, which turned out to be a modest chub. Things became even slower until the sun began to go down and the light started to fade. I cast into a narrow neck of water where the flow speeded up and held the plug in the flow without winding at all. The rod whanged round and a small, silver seatrout took to the air. Before I knew what was happening the fish had jumped a couple of times and tangled the line into an overhanging bunch of cow parsley. I wound in as I walked towards the hang up and found the fish was still there so I netted it and lifted it out. A lovely little seatrout. After untangling the hooks from my net (nets are a pain when you're lure fishing) I moved on downstream fishing wherever there was enough water to work the plug. The next bite was a tiny perch and then a better one of about a pound. Another seatrout a bit bigger than the first hit the lure, jumped and came unstuck - they do that. Then I had a take from a small pike which I also failed to hook. This was followed by a lunging attack from a seatrout of four or five pounds which launched itself clear of the water but was not hooked. The next fish was a pike even smaller than the first one that I'd seen. As I walked back up to my car, before I packed in, I had another go where I'd caught the first seatrout and missed another fierce attack from a trout.

All in all it was an interesting session, four species on the Rapala but also an annoyingly high proportion of 'misses' despite the small lure and sharp trebles. I put the poor hook-up ratio down to bad luck. On a different day I might well have landed twice as many fish but that's fishing. I'm confident that the lure allowed me to cover as much fishable water as was available and I doubt that chopping and changing would have made much difference to the outcome.

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 -

A nicely hooked chub on the small Rapala.


My first and only seatrout - pretty fresh from the saltwater.


The larger of my perch.


Finally a tiny pike. I don't fish for pike with plugs because they tend to engulf them and may need surgery to get them out.