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).

What to fish for when it's too hot and too bright.

At this time of the year the nights are short so, if you want to give yourself a decent chance of catching most sea fish, it's early starts or late finishes. Two of the main exceptions to this are wrasse, which are distinctly diurnal and mullet, which generally love the warm water and bright sunshine. I'm a great one for 'playing the percentages' as many sport players would say. In other words, although I have some real preferences for catching particular fish species, I will often try to maximise the return for my efforts, provided that the fish I catch are interesting and give the 'string' a good pull.

This week, here in South Dorset it has been wall to wall sunshine and pretty hot with it. Still continuing to rest my aching arm, I've limited myself to a spot of 'gentle' spinning. My first session, on a stretch of river that I'd never fished before, lasted only about 40 minutes. The banks were lined with thick growths of reeds and there were a limited number of stances where it was safe to approach the bank without risking falling in.

What a place for trying to catch mullet. One of my pal Steve's pictures - much better than my own.


In fact I was supposed to be sussing out the fishing for a prospective film. As it turned out the required topic of the film/interview was not, as I had expected it to be, about mullet biology and behaviour; but at least it was encouragement for me to wet a line, so I did.

Since I could only manage half-a-dozen casts without resting my arm, the fishing was a bit limited, but the potential seemed excellent. In fact, within a few seconds of starting I had a couple of knocks on the spinner but I could see that the fish was tiny - not quite what I was after. I moved on downstream fifty-metres or so and began again. Eureka!. On the first cast, as the spinner swung back to my bank it was followed by half-a-dozen very large mullet. The fish were tapping and nipping at the ragworm-baited hook, just behind the spinning blade. I could hardly believe my eyes. Several times there was a sharper pluck on the rod tip and, on a couple of occasions a fish was briefly hooked but promptly came unstuck. Not an uncommon occurrence when using a baited spoon for such big, lively fish in flowing water.

Probably mistakenly, after a few casts I moved on to try a bit further down, and fished a different spot. My idea was simply to decide which might be the most productive stretch. As it turned out the place where I started, and saw the fish following was (by pure chance) probably the hot-spot and I should have stuck to it.

After half-an-hour or so I had covered most of the fishable places and had found (and seen but not caught) mullet in several of them. I was beginning to think that I would blank. Just a few more chucks, I told myself. I changed the piece of worm on the hook and out went the lure again. The spinning blade had barely travelled a metre when the rod whipped round and I was playing a lively fish. The mullet, typically, fought hard and it was clear that I would never be able to reach it with my landing net from the high, reedy bank where I stood. I opted to work my way upstream until (I hoped) a more convenient 'landing-strip' presented itself. Apart from the odd time that the mullet swam closer to my bank and I had to (painfully) hold the rod above my head to avoid tangling in the reeds, the fish behaved itself, and it was only a few minutes before I decided that I would be able to reach the water with my net without risking a head-first plunge to join the mullet.

After taking a couple of pictures and returning the fish, I went home.

Just on the bank - nicely hooked in the scissors.


A clearer picture, showing the spinner, before I returned the fish.


On the following day I went to my more usual section of River, but the fish were thin on the ground so it was hardly worth bothering. Later that day I was contacted by my pal Steve Pitts, who lives in Bristol, and I told him about the big thinlips that I'd seen on my recce. He was keen to come down and join me for a spot of fishing and to try and film catching a mullet (to make up for the previous day's filming fiasco). We were given permission to have a go and, despite heavy traffic on his way down from Bristol, Steve duly arrived at my door armed with fishing rod and video camera.

We had a quick bite of lunch and it was after 13:00hr before we'd driven to the river and walked to the top end of the beat; I baited up my spinner and made the first cast. Within seconds I was in! The fish tore off downstream and after several seconds of excitement, much to our disappointment, it popped off the hook. I cast again and and once more, within a few turns of the reel, I hooked another mullet. This time the hook was firmly in place and the fish battled gamely for several minutes before I thought it was ready to be netted. I placed the net in the water and drew the fish over the rim. It was in - it leapt high into the air and was back in the river. Once more I drew it over the net and again the touch of the net made it hurl itself into space and out of the meshes. "That's twice it's jumped out of the net." I said to my pal as, to my amazement, it did exactly the same thing again. Eventually, the leaping thinlip was netted and slid ashore, and Steve took a couple of stills before returning it to the river.

Two fish hooked on the first two casts - it looked like a bonanza, but this was not to be. In the remainder of the two hour session, as we made our way downstream, we had quite a few more bites. Steve landed another nice fish and I lost one much bigger thinlip (typical?). We should probably have stuck to the stretch where we started. Stll, all in all, it was an excellenc couple of hours filming and fishing.

A picture of my net-leaping, Houdini, thinlip - taken by Steve.


Steve into another thinlip.


In the net, without any exciting leaps.


A well deserved fish for my pal, after all his driving and filming.


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 -