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).

14 March 2006.

The pike's revenge.

There are obviously lots of big pike about at this time of the year. Of course they don't appear by magic and they have been about over the past twelve months but, whatever the reasons, more of them are caught in February and March just before the season's end. My last piece on 'locallised pike' stimulated a fair bit of email and not surprisingly perhaps, several other anglers reported exactly the same phenomenon of several decent pike holed up in a small area while the rest of the river appeared to be devoid of life. Obviously it's well worth searching for these hotspots rather than plonking yourself down in one place and waiting for the pike to find you.

Anyway, as I say there have been several good catches recently. My pal Richard gave a good example (different river to me). Here's his email slightly edited --

Hi Mike

It was good to see you the other week (we'd met by accident when we were both fishing the same stretch) and I managed just one small jack on the last cast just above the bridge with not even a follow on the rest of the river.

Anyway have just read your latest piece on pike gathering together and thought I would tell you of the same experience on Saturday. I was fishing wobbled roach again and worked my way up from the Bridge trying several good looking swims without even a follow. I came to a deep run just above a bend where I had two fish this time last year on a spinnerbait tight in to the near bank. This time I took a nice fish of about 8lbs and one of 3lbs again tight to the bank and then nothing else so moved on.

I covered the water all the way up to the concrete bank without the slightest sign of a fish so decided to sit out the last hour float ledgering where I had taken the two fish. I trotted the roach about 10 yards down the near bank and let it come to rest about 2 feet from the bank. In just a few minutes there was a tap on the line and the float moved out into mid river and I struck into a large fish.

The fish bottomed my 22lbs scales and is my first twenty, not a pretty fish and not a good photo but I was over the moon.Again strange how all the fish came from one swim with nothing showing anywhere else on the river.

All the best


Another pal, Stuart Clough reported a similar good catch (a third river) and we wondered whether the fish might be concentrated downstream of an obstruction such as a weir pool or some shallows. However, I think we need a lot more evidence before we can decide. Clearly it would be really useful if it was possible to predict the whereabouts of such pike concentrations.

On a slightly different slant another friend, Guy, sent me a picture of a cracking forty inch fish (23lb?) taken on a fly while salmon fishing last week.

My own exploits were less impressive but perhaps more amusing. I decided to have a 'last afternoon wobble' with a few frozen baits. I was using a 4/0 circle hook nicked through the snout of the bait. My first fish (about double figures) took on the first cast. I'd left the net behind so it was a bit of a palaver leaning down the bank to unhook it with the forceps - beautifully hooked round the maxilla.

Five minutes later I hooked another fish (slightly smaller) under the roots of a huge willow tree. I knew at once that I had a problem. I was well over a metre above the water standing on the concrete wall above a weir. Immediately upstream of me was a metal bridge. The fish was well behaved and I led it into the shallow water on the concrete apron of the weir. I would have to cross the bridge, climb over a fence and drop down the wall to get at the fish and unhook it. I poked the rod tip under the bridge and laid it down on the ground so that I would be able to get hold of it after crossing the bridge. Then I nipped across and began to climb over the fence. At this point the pike decided to go back into the river and I saw the rod begin to bend alarmingly. I panicked and in trying to get back to save the rod my foot slipped off the rail of the fence. My full weight dropped onto the top bar of the fence, crushing a very tender part of my anatomy. For an instant I was speechless, then I just groaned - it was agony. I staggered back and picked up the rod - the fish was still attached.

Try again Mike!. This time I after leading the pike into the shallows I took the bale arm off - at least it wouldn't pull the rod in. I crossed the bridge, scaled the fence (rather gingerly) and dropped down onto the weir. Needless to say the fish had swum off again so I began to handline it back towards me. After a couple of minutes of give and take I had it by my feet. I took the hook in the forceps and twisted. The pike thrashed, the forceps slipped the line caught on the concrete and snapped just above the trace. I looked down to see the pike, motionless and gently finning, just below me. Rolling up my sleeve I reached down and took it's tail fin (all I could reach) between my finger and thumb. I slowly manipulated the fish until I could shift my grip to just behind it's head. A quick lift and I was able to lay it on the wet concrete. I removed the hook (again nicely round the maxilla) and slipped the pike back into the water. It swam away and I picked up my gear and limped home. Next time I must remember the net.

Richard's fish.

Well over 22 pounds but a bit skinny so should have been heavier still.

Guy's fish.

This one looks all of it's weight.  A cracker on the fly.

My first pike.

Nicely hooked.

My second one.

Not very big and not much of a picture but it caused me considerable distress.