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).

Not quite what I wanted.

Still nursing my back injury I have had a couple more 'gentle exercise' evening sessions on the river. I'm still hoping for a decent seatrout but so far perch and pike have been the only catches. My first trip was no different to the others and, as anticipated, the pike which took my 7cm Rapala were on the small side and weighed at most a couple of kg. The river is now very low and clear but this year the amount of weed is less than usual so it is relatively easy to fish with any type of lure. In the past I've always done well with seatrout when using either the small jointed Rapala or, when fishing after dark, a luminous 'Mepps' type spinner. In either case a short wire trace is necessary to avoid bite-offs by pike of any size.

One small pike ready for unhooking.


... another pike.


A third small pike.


My most recent session was, as usual, in the evening. I had the idea of using the plug at first, and as darkness fell switching to my 'lumilure'. It did not start well and for half an hour or more I trudged downstream fishing the Rapala down and across. There was a stiff wind blowing, often from behind me, so in many places care was required to avoid overcasting and snagging the far bank. I caught nothing and did not have even the sniff of a perch or pike until I reached a wide, shallow riffle. I cast almost to the far bank and allowed the lure to swing across the current without retrieving. As I wound it back along my bank it disappeared from view behind the reeds. There was an area of slack water on the near side and I could see from the angle of the line that the lure was almost back to where I stood when there was a sharp tug and a splash but I failed to hook the culprit - either a small pike or a trout I assumed. I cast again and this time, as the plug reached mid-river, I was into a fish which by its splashing and wriggling was clearly a titchy trout. I reeled it in, took its picture (Well! I was desperate.) and popped it back.

I continued on downstream, almost to the bottom of the stretch. On the far bank were some iron bank supports and fish often lie just downstream of the last piling. I dropped my cast right under the far bank, perfect, except that the breeze blew the braid over a projecting bit of ironwork. I tried to jiggle it free but only succeeded in tangling the plug round the offending metal. I didn't want to lose my plug and I was also reluctant to leave a lure with treble hooks dangling above the water so it meant a ten minute hike across the nearest bridge to free it. I eased the clutch and lay the rod down before setting off to release the lure. Fortunately it proved easy to unwind the trace from the rusty stanchion, so I threw the plug (a floater) in and allowed it to drift back across the river before setting off back to my gear.

When I arrived back at the tackle I picked up the rod, reeled in, and checked the knots and line for damage, but everything seemed to be OK so I began to fish again. There was nothing in the tail of the pool and below it was a fast, shallow stretch - just right for a trout I thought. My third cast was well downstream so that the lure would travel back up the strongest flow. As I held the rod low and wound very slowly I could feel the little jointed plug wriggling madly in the fast water. Suddenly it stopped and the rod hooped round. A fish, I thought, and instinctively swung the rod to my left. The taker thrashed on the surface and took a couple of metres of line. It felt better than the things I'd been catching recently, but it didn't jump so I assumed it must be another pike. Then the clutch began to screech as the fish set off, at warp ten, downriver. I was reluctant to reduce the tension because I knew that there was a sunken tree about fifty metres from where I stood. The fish stopped and gave another mighty boil on the surface - most unpikelike. I gained a few metres of line before there was another screaming run ending in a crashing surface thrash. By now I was thinking- 'This is a good fish - could it be a salmon?'

After another half-a-dozen, short, unstoppable runs and thrashes I began to gain a bit of line, but looking round I realised that the net was now ten metres upstream of me. Holding the rod in the air I slowly walked backwards, with the fish sometimes following and sometimes making more runs down or across the river. Now I was near the net so I reached down and picked it up. With the net tucked under my left arm I walked back down towards the fish winding in the line as I went. The fish had gone quiet and everything seemed solid. It was solid! The salmon (I had confirmed by eye that it was a salmon at this point) had tangled itself in some trailing flag iris stems a little further down my bank. I couldnt shift it. Heart in mouth I tugged and pulled but the plants were firmly rooted. I eased off the tension by lowering the rod, the fish thrashed and pulled free before swimming out into mid river. Phew! I was now able to play the tiring salmon until it was close enough to be landed. I put the net in the water and allowed the fish to slide, tail first, into the meshes before pulling it ashore. Unhook the five or six kg fish and take a couple of quick pictures before putting it back into the river. Away it swam, seemingly none the worse. Not quite what I'd wanted but very satisfactory. That was enough exercise for the old back muscles, so the lumilure will have to wait for another day.

Not a pike - the small brownie.


That's more like it.


Even though it's a salmon I look almost cheerful.


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