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).

Pike time!

We had a fair amount of rain earlier this week and as usual with the first Autumn rise in water levels it shifted the Summer's accumulated silt and caused the river to colour up like cocoa. Since the base flow comes largely from chalk springs within two days it was clearing nicely and as we were in the middle of a mild spell I decided to have a couple of hour's pike fishing. My first task was to catch some baits and although dace have been hard to come by this year I was into one on my first trot down. In fact it was only ten minutes until I had four decent sized specimens in my bait bucket. I popped back to the car, picked up my pike rod and landing net and set off down the river.

The first spot that I tried was a small slack under an overhanging hawthorn bush. I was using a split wine cork as a float and a size 6/0 Varivas circle hook to lip hook the dace. The fish was simply lowered into the slack water and allowed to swim around the little bay. The bait chuntered round in a leisurely fashion for five minutes then without warning it suddenly streaked into the marginal vegetation - a sure sign that it had seen a predator. I eased it out into open water and a few seconds later it darted back into the bank again. For a third time I moved the bait out a couple of metres and this time as it raced towards the edge it was closely followed by a good pike which after a couple of attempts grabbed it and sank down out of sight. I waited for a few seconds to let it turn the bsit and then drew the line taut. The pike felt the resistance and began to move away bending the rod and dragging line off against a tight clutch - I was in.

The fish fought hard and twice managed to plough through beds of Ranunculus weed but the braid soon sliced the soft stems and I managed to steer the fish towards the bank. I layed the net in the water holding the handle between my knees and eased the pike over the rim and into the meshes. Excellent! The pike was nicely hooked in the scissors and so very easy to release. On my old scales the fish weighed 16lb and after I'd taken a couple of pictures I slipped it back into the river. Away it swam - good start!

I walked twenty metres downstream to a deeper pool, baited up again and lowered the bait in. The cork was towed around for a minute or two and then away it went with a flash of silver-green. This time I tightened and again I was into a reasonable fish. I soon landed the second pike, it weighed about nine pounds and again was nicely hooked in the lip. I took its picture and released it as before. Two decent fish in fifteen minutes.

The next pool that I fancied trying was a good distance downstream so I trudged on with my two remaining baits, over a couple of fences and through a field of sheep. The pool looked really pikey so I attached my third bait and lowered it straight into the deepest place, close to an overhanging alder bush. The bait swam about and the cork danced after it for a little while before I saw a pike of perhaps eight or nine pounds grab my dace. I waited but the pike simply let go. I twitched the bait and saw that it was still swimming. Again the pike grabbed it, hung on for a few seconds and then released it - very odd! A third time the pike took the bait and before I even thought about tightening the line it let go again. Clearly it was not very keen so I reeled in and plonked the bait a few metres to the left. Almost at once the, now severely mangled, dace was grabbed by a much smaller pike which couldn't manage it and simply held it crosswise. I jerked the hook free and let the pike have its free meal.

On went my last and largest bait and I swung it out into the shallow middle section of the pool. The breeze blew my line into the reeds and as I tried to wangle it free by waving the rod there was a sploosh and the cork shot under. My fifth take of the short session. I tightened and the fish began to surge away tearing line off against a tight clutch. This one was well hooked and although I hadn't seen it yet, it was fighting much harder than the others that I'd had. I raised the rod and the fish broke the surface - it was a beauty. Now I was separated from the waters edge by a broad margin of swampy vegetation, could I get out to net the fish? Tricky! I prodded with the net handle to see whether it would top my wellies. It didn't seem too deep so I ventured out towards the pike; now laying in the edge with it's great head resting on the mat of leaves. I could just get near enough to reach the fish with the net and my arm fully extended. By swinging the rod to my right I was able to slide the pike over the rim. At this point I noticed that I was gradually sinking and the water was just brimming the top of my boots. I cautiously backed away with the rod now in my left hand, heaving the net after me with my right. It took several good hauls to bring the fish ashore but eventually I had it. I removed the hook, weighed the fish at 21lb and took a couple of pictures before releasing it. Five bites, three sizeable pike and four baits - all used up. A first class session of piking. Must try it again.

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 rod, the net and the first 16lb fish.


Selfie with a few artistic spots of slime on the lens.


The bait - now deceased - to show the circle hook on the wire trace..


My second and smallest pike of the three with its prey.


Twenty pounds plus and ready to go back.


It looks a lot slimmer in my arms. I'm kneeling in the reedy swamp that I had to traverse as it was landed.