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).

Thanks Paul!

Hi Everyone,

As may be obvious it has been some months since I was able to do any serious fishing, and even longer since I caught anything worth writing about. To fill the gap I have uploaded (on the Saltwater pages) the main body of the book ‘Lure Fishing’ which I wrote with my pal Harry about thirty-five years ago. Needless to say, the years since publication have seen a few major changes in tackle and tactics. The introduction of braided lines and weedless softbaits have made lure fishing so much more effective. Lines are now so fine and strong that it is possible to be confident of playing and landing even the largest fish, and weedless lures have made it possible to fish virtually anywhere, however weedy or snaggy the conditions, without much of a problem.

Anyway, despite my own shortcomings on the angling front I have a couple of pals who have been more successful in their efforts – firstly my good friend Paul who has been able to fish his local canal. Here’s a version of his emails -

Hi Mike

Sorry for the delay in writing. As mentioned in my last email I have focused on fishing the canal local to where I live. Whilst it has long seen a major part of my angling efforts, with Coronavirus it has been virtually the only water I have fished.

Since the Autumn my friends and I have focused on predators which (in the canal) means perch and pike. ‘Bumping jigs’ tends to produce catches dominated by perch, whereas by fishing higher in the water pike predominate.

My friend Dave has had our best perch so far at 2lb 9oz which was caught on a jig at dusk. No surprises there!

Dave's cracking perch.


Fairly early on I decided to set myself a target of a double figure pike. The run of the mill pike having been in the two-to-four-pound range. A size 4 Mepps fished on a steady retrieve being the best producer of fish but with no signs of the bigger pike that I wished for, a change in tactics was in order. Initially I tried a six-inch suspending plug, a great fish catcher but the pike were still small. Very enjoyable fishing but not helping me with the double I hoped for.

The next move was to deadbait. The normal approach here is to float-ledger, casting to the far bank and to twitching it back to where I stand. About half the takes have come soon after shifting the bait, but only one whilst it was actually moving. The usual bait was sardine or similar sized fish so not too different in size to my plug. The good news is that this seemed to work and produced a much better average size of pike, with fish typically being more than 6 pounds with only the odd one smaller and my best so far at 8lb 4oz.

...and Paul's eight-pound pike.


Last Tuesday (some months ago) another friend, Ashley, and I fished the same section of canal, leap-frogging along the bank. It was very cold with little sign of fish activity of any kind but that all changed when first Ashley's float moved off against the flow and seconds later mine did the same. We were about 15 metres apart at the time. Ashley's was a fine fish of 12lb 6oz and mine a far more modest 7lb 8oz. So, the closest I've been to a double from the canal so far has been taking a photo of someone else's!

Ashley's dead-bait double and Paul's simultaneous smaller pike.




I replied with a few moans about not doing much fishing and about the unpredictable success (or lack of it) for published angling books. This was followed by some comments about the possibility of twenty pounders from Paul’s canal and he said -

Hi Mike,

I would love for there to be a twenty somewhere in the Canal, but I do feel it is a long-shot. Having said that, pike are definitely on the up and the perch population appears to have plateaued. The average size of roach is going up too. Thinking about the larger pike, if present, I suspect they will be feeding on the bream, as there are far more bream of a pound or two than there are roach of that size. Just before lockdown in March I did locate an area holding a lot of skimmers up to a pound, and that was about 100 metres down from where the 12lb fish was caught. Also, I know where my village club match-record was caught last March and that consisted mostly of bream so that will be worth a try too.

All the best,


At the start of this year (in January) Paul wrote again -

Hi Mike,

To add variety to my fishing I decided to use the milder weather as an opportunity to trot a stream very close to where I live. This week I've managed some afternoon sessions after work of about 90 minutes each which I think I've mentioned.

As these sessions have been short, I've just dropped into the first good swim. Lots of small chub with a few dace and roach mixed in today. The stream I’m fishing is a carrier for the main river and varies between 12 feet and 30 feet across with an average depth of around 3 feet.

As I had the whole day to fish today, I wanted to explore more of the fishery. Travelling light I started at the second accessible spot and fished each swim down to the fishery limit.

It was a prolific day with dace making up a lot more of the catch than earlier in the week but still dominated by small chub. I had about a half-dozen accidental trout with the largest shown in the photo attached. The rest of my catch were a few roach and a couple of perch. But the star of the day for me was the solitary small grayling. It is the first I've had from this far down the river for 30 years or so. None of the landing net dace I was catching last year.



One of many dace.


An accidental trout, still looking a bit thin.


The rare, bonus grayling.


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 -