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 new lure (for me) - still under test!

I've had a couple more goes with the new rod that my pal Terry gave me (see the last Freshwater page) but I've only caught perch. However, I've spent some time trying out a 'new' lure. In fact it's an old lure, given to me by my friend Dave Little. To start at the beginning - Dave and I have recently had a spot of email correspondence about glow-in-the-dark lures and, although I have caught quite a few fish on both 'light-activated' softbaits (mostly bass) and constantly shining, 'Beta Light' spinners (mostly sea trout, scad and mackerel), I've always hankered after a luminous plug to try for sea trout. To be fair I catch plenty of sea trout on my little, jointed, shallow-diving Rapalas and lumi-spinners, so I didn't really need anything else. As it happened I had a spare, green, 22mm light from a previous spinner making session. When I mentioned this to Dave, the idea of a transparent bodied plug with a Tritium light inserted to provide the glow seemed to appeal to him. He said that he had a couple of spare transparent, plastic plugs and would drill holes in them and drop them in for me next time he was down my way. The next weekend the modified lures duly arrived and I couldn't resist having a go at lighting one up.

I had sea trout in mind so I chose a smaller lure with the hole drilled in the top of its head for starters. Within minutes of opening the package I was slipping the little 'light stick' into the plug and sealing it in with a blob of quick hardening resin glue. It looked fine and that evening I went to the river to have a dabble, just to see if it would work. I started in daylight so that I could see what was going on. First things first, the plug floated. When it was wound in or held in the flow it wagged nicely and dived to perhaps 20 or 30cm below the surface. Having started I couldn't resist having a few casts and as the light began to fade I hooked into a couple of perch. Since it was a dummy run with the lure I had no camera but at least I'd caught something on it. When I got home I unclipped the plug and noticed that it was now full of water. The hard resin, aided by my crap DIY skills, had not sealed up the hole adequately. Back to the drawing board.

Using an old craft knife I excavated the plug of 'Araldite Rapid' from the cavity, tipped out the water and left it to dry. I then replaced the glue with the clear 'Aquasure' that I use to repair holes in my waders. This stuff is quite runny and takes twenty four hours to set properly. The first two layers sank into the interior and formed a bit of a pit in the head of the lure. I left it to set before adding a couple more layers to fill up the depression. Now it looked OK and there was still a large air space in the rear half of the plug, but the light stick had stuck to the mass of Aquasure in the front end. It appeared to be fine and I was happy with the light positioned over the front treble, so I left it at that.

I had no idea whether all my tinkering might have affected the behaviour of the plug (they can be pretty sensitive to changes in weight distribution or to bits tacked on) so I had to try it out all over again. The following evening I went to the river once more. I parked the car, put the rod together and picked up the net handle but "Where was the ******* net?" I must have left it on the grass last time I put the gear back into the boot - clearly some bright spark had found it and either pinched it or slung it away. A quick search did not reveal a net, so I'd have to manage without it. This is not a good idea when there is a faint chance of having to land a decent fish from high, reedy banks with deep water close to the edge. Anyway, there was nothing for it, I was netless. I walked to the river; the little plug still cast like a rocket on my new rod and it worked in exactly the same way as it had before - not all bad then!

The first three casts were down and across a nice glide which often holds decent sea trout, but nothing showed. The fourth chuck dropped the lure in the middle of a big slack, downstream on my bank. I began to reel steadily and, in mid-pool, the lure was snatched and a fish hooked itself. There was a boil but no jumping or thrashing so I'm already thinking "pike". At first the fish came in steadily as I pumped it back - then it woke up. Time after time it made strong runs against a fairly tight clutch. As usual I had a knottable wire trace so I was confident that it wouldn't bite the lure off. As it came closer I saw that it was a decent pike hooked in the jaw. How would I land it without a net?

Now I'm no stranger to 'beaching' fish and landing them by hand but this was a tricky one. My best bet would be to try and raise its head and slide it across the floating mat of Glyceria leaves. I was a bit hasty and the fish still had a bit of life in it. I heaved and it dived under the vegetation. Now it was stuck and I couldn't get near enough to reach it without plunging into deep water. I slacked off the line - nothing moved. I jiggled the rod tip - nothing moved. I'm beginning to think that the pike might have attached a treble to the tough grass stems and then released itself. I gave the rod another jiggle and something pulled back, it was still there. I gently increased the pressure and the fish swam out into open water. Phew! This time I played it around for a minute or two, to slow it down before having another go. Its head came up I leaned back and heaved and it slid onto the grass raft. I reached down and grabbed the nylon leader, now I gave a firm pull and the pike slithered near enough for me to get a hand under its chin and lift it onto the soft grass.

I removed the hooks and took a couple of pictures before measuring the fish (76cm fork length - so about 5kg or a bit more - it was quite plump). Back it went and quickly swam away. Not my biggest pike but certainly one of the more entertaining catches.

A reasonable perch on the Rapala.


Another slightly larger perch. The are beautiful fish.


The troublesome pike.


A better view of the luminous plug. The light is in the front third but not visible in the flash.


... and one of me before I popped it back into the river.


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 -