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).

Fishing at last!

What with Christmas, Covid and the weather my fishing has been on hold for some time. However, with the total lock-down imminent and who knows what restrictions to be imposed I decided to have a dabble. What was involved in my decision? Well, my good pal Bill Fagg has had a couple of blanks on the coast recently and sea water temperatures are down to about 9 degrees C - not quite the bottom line for bass but getting there. Also, every early morning (my favourite time for sea fishing) has had near or below zero temperatures and with the tide coming in over cold rocks the bass are likely to be even less keen to feed. Since there had been no significant rain recently I guessed that the rivers must be pretty clear by now (but probably still bank high?), so they were likely to be 'fishable'. The low but constant temperatures made grayling and/or pike the most likely bets so, in order to keep warm (and having no suitable 'fish baits' I opted to spin an artificial for pike.

I rooted about in the bag and found a good sized silver spoon. Now I have not used a spoon for pike for a long time but I fancied giving it a go. Off came the little seatrout plug (from my last spinning session months ago) and I clipped on the spoon, put on plenty of warm clothes, stuck the gear in the car and set off to the river. When I arrived on the bank at about 14:30, sure enough the water was high and clear. There was a blustery, icy wind blowing and the air temperature was about three degrees. I swung the spoon out and let it dangle in the current; it flashed and wobbled beautifully - easily visible, I thought, to any pike within a couple of metres.

In the high flow conditions, and with the mostly vertical banks of the channel, it was likely that there would be relatively few 'pikey' slacks to fish. Of course the pike can find other places to lie in wait, but it isn't so easy, as an angler standing on the bank, to recognise them. The days are short at the moment and my fishing time was limited, so I opted to concentrate on any obvious slack areas. The easy way to fish was simply to swing the spoon out into the flow and let it swing back into the few bankside areas of slower flow. As I retrieved I gave the spoon a twitch or two - more from habit than because I thought it made any difference to my chances.

After perhaps ten minutes of cast and retrieve, as the spoon swung back round I thought I felt a slight pluck. I saw nothing but as I stared towards the end of the line there was a faint swirl on the smooth surface - it could only have resulted from the movement of a decent fish down below. Out went the spoon again and this time - nothing. I cast for a third time, knowing that pike are persistent creatures if they have not been alarmed. This time, when the spoon came into view a couple of metres upstream of where I'd seen the swirl, a long, green shape darted out behind it and missed. I held the lure in place ticking slowly from side to side and the pike came up behind it, opened its mouth, turned away - and it was on!

I can't say that an epic battle ensued. The fish wast a decent size but it was no monster, and I was concerned that it might come unstuck from the big treble, particularly as every time it came to the surface it thrashed wildly. After a minute or two the pike calmed down and I was able to draw it over the net and slide it ashore. A couple of pictures, take the hook out, a final selfie and back it went, still in mint condition. I estimated that it was four or five kg, not bad for fifteen minutes of action.

In a further half-hour of fishing I had one more bite which was on for a few seconds before throwing the hook. This pike was similar in size to the first one but I was fishing a slack on the opposite bank and some distance upstream (so not the same fish). By this time my fingers were beginning to stiffen in the cold air so I considered that two bites and one fish landed was a fair return for my three-quarters-of-an-hour, and went home. It was good to be fishing again.

I just had an email from Bill to say that, due to Covid restrictions, we can't go fishing until further notice. Just as well I went yesterday - didn't see anyone anyway. (Have a look at the Angling Trust website for details).

The pike still on the hook and in the net.


My spoon, probably unused for five years or more before this trip.


Nice to catch something.


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 -