It is now almost twenty years since the publication of "Operation Sea Angler". The book went out of print when the publishers asked us to revise it by adding some stuff on 'beach casting' and other 'fashionable' methods - we refused! Since then, we have learned a lot more about catching fish, plug fishing for bass has become something of a cult, fish stocks have declined drastically and anglers have kept saying - "Where can we get hold of a copy of the book?"
Another major change over this period has been the increasing availability of computers and particularly the Internet. With this in mind it seemed to be a good idea to put "Operation Sea Angler" on the web for all to read. I shall update the information, more pictures will be used and, wonder of wonders, colour is no longer a problem. Of course it will take me some time to do the update so please be patient, but to avoid keeping anyone in suspense, I shall be issuing the material bit by bit. I am not sure how long it will take to complete the task but enjoy your read!MIKE LADLE
Three anglers stood up to their knees in a sticky, smelly, decaying mountain of seaweed. Their casting arms were working overtime, not that they had to cast very far. Before them the surface of the sea heaved and boiled with feeding mullet ranging in size from that of a herring to near record proportions.
The fish were ravenously scooping in maggots from the creamy scum which laced the surface of the water. Back and forth they cruised, twisting and turning as they searched for the greatest concentration of food.
The rod of one angler bent double and the ratchet screamed as thirty yards of line were torn off in a few seconds. His plimsoll-clad feet stumbled over the hummocks of decaying wrack and the breaking waves surged up his bare legs as, rod held high, he followed the course of the hooked fish along the beach. Fragments of weed flew in all directions as the fish again sped out to sea. In the ensuing battle, angler and fish alternately gained control, but gradually, under the relentless pressure, the mullet began to tire. Five minutes later a 4-pound thicklip was drawn over the rim of the large net held by one of the other anglers.
As they turned to face the sea, their companion was into another good fish. One of them, net in hand, hurried along to lend assistance, the other picked up his rod and again began to cast to a group of milling fish. Hardly had the second mullet been landed before the last of the trio struck firmly. His rod flexed and line streamed from the reel. The fish slowed briefly and boiled on the surface twenty yards out, revealing as it did so the tell-tale prickly dorsal-fin of a large bass, before accelerating into a second run. The light glass rod curved ever more steeply as the knot joining fly-line to backing jammed on the second ring. Inevitably the cast parted and the line fell slack.
Sport continued unabated for the next hour before the tide turned and the increasing surf dispersed the mullet shoals. The red sun of the summer evening was merging with the top of the western cliffs as the three gathered up their tackle and compared their respective catches. The first carried four mullet of 3-4 pounds each, the second had three similar mullet and a fine 5 pound bass. A broad smile on the face of the third angler hinted that his catch was something special. Side by side on the dark grey shale by his feet lay five mullet with a total weight of over 25-pounds.
As they trudged slowly back along the shore in the gathering gloom they thought and talked of those early days when they had first arrived in Dorset.
Today, with fish stocks throughout the world under threat it is no longer sensible or acceptable to take so many fine fish. We feel obliged to return most of our catches alive and well to the sea even though sport-fishing effects are tiny in relation to commercial landings, which also kill vast numbers of unwanted fish. With regard to this it is worth bearing in mind that angling is by far the most selective method of obtaining fish to eat - you can select not only for species but also for size, with unwanted individuals normally being released unharmed.