Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page

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 four 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. 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 so if you are new to fly fishing or spinning these are the ones for you).

03 February 2006.

Tired of pike?

I expect that by now the non-pikers among website readers are sick and tired of my attempts to catch pike from the rivers. To be fair, although pike are beautiful animals, they are not the greatest battling fish in the world. Often they make the reel scream a few times in the course of being landed and sometimes they crash at the surface or even leap. head shaking violently, from the water but they rarely look like escaping from my 'bass' gear. However, there is one aspect of piking that really enjoyable and that is 'the take'. I tend to use three methods when I'm after pike and they all produce fantastic takes. Firstly I spin with big spoons or rubber lures (I no longer use plugs because of the damage sometimes done by engulfed multiple treble hooks). Secondly, I wobble dead fish hooked on a circle hook through the snout. Lastly (and I have to say my favourite and most effective) I fish a live or dead fish under a slit wine bottle cork float (easily slipped onto or off the line if necessary).

The rivers I fish are usually shallow and clear so that whichever tactic I use I often see the fish take. This is the bit I like. The lure 'swims' along slowly swinging from side to side or wagging its tail. I guide it close to the edge of weed beds or rafts of floating vegetation drifting in slack pools of water. Suddenly my heart leaps as a green flash hurtles after the artificial fish - amazing! Wobbling provides similar heart stopping action but because the bait is almost neutrally buoyant I can twitch it along very slowly, let it sink into river bed depressions or twitch it to make it shudder or dart past a known lie. When I float fish the cork glides along on the surface, sometimes the bait drags it under but if it does its jerky response to the short wave flapping of the bait tells me that there is no pike. Like all float fishing it's easy to concentrate on what you are doing because there is always something to look at (the cork) and you need to steer it gently into the most likely spots. Sometimes I see the pike swirl after the bait, sometimes the cork goes under with a loud plopping sound and sometimes it simply submerges at a steady pace. Always it takes my breath away for a few seconds.

Anyway, to return to reality. Last time I mentioned a couple of big pike that wouldn't take our baits. I also mentioned that my son Richard had commented that my "- baits probably weren't big enough!" Yesterday I went for a spot of dace fishing. I had a brand new barbless hook and some new shot, having inextricably tangled my rig in brambles on the last trip. I began to fish and within a few minutes had landed three stonking dace - the best one probably six ounces. Remembering what Rich had said about a big bait I thought I'd try for the large pike so I put the float gear away, picked up my pike tackle (bass rod, Stradic reel, old cork and circle hook on a short wire trace) and set off downstream. I only intended to try two spots - both where we had seen big pike. At the first one my bait was taken within about two minutes of it being swung into the water. I saw the fish take and it was about twelve or fifteen pounds. It swam round for a few seconds and then came off having removed the bait. It refused to have another go but I was not too bothered because it was not one of the fish I was after.

I moved on to the other pool where Steve had previously seen a very big pike. For fifteen minutes the bait (my biggest) wandered around unscathed. I was beginning to think that there was nothing doing again. I walked round the edge of the pool trying every likely looking patch of weed, mini-bay and raft of debris - nothing! I'd been trying for almost half-an-hour (almost unheard of for me to fish one pool for so long) and decided to give the 'hot spot' one last go before 'giving them best'. I lowered the bait into the water and waited. As I looked down at the reel I noticed a little tangle (my first for years believe it or not) in the braid up near the butt ring. Obviously I had been careless with the slack line as I moved my bait from place to place. Instead of doing the right thing and lifting my bait from the water 'til I untangled the little knot, I tucked the rod butt under my arm and began to pick out the loops with my fingernails. As I picked at the tangle suddenly the line began to tighten in my fingers - horror of horrors a fish had taken the bait!

For a second or two my brain was numb (number than usual). What should I do? No chance of getting the knot out now and it would cause a potentially tragic weakness in the line. I decided to wind the little tangle back onto the spool and hope that I could persuade the fish into the margin without subjecting the weak spot to any pressure. Fortunately my ruse worked. By gently coaxing the fish along under my rod tip I managed to keep the problem on the reel and eventually to land the fish. Phew! Thirty one pounds of pike.

What did I say last time?

"If you want to catch a big, well fed, scared pike you will be wise to keep well out of sight and put a big, slow moving, attractive bait right on its nose and that's what we'll be trying to do later this week."

It's good when a plan comes together (despite my ham fisted fishing).

A decent pike

Nigel landed this fine fifteen pounder on a previous trip.

My jammy 31 pounder.

Had it known the facts this one could almost certainly have made its escape.