Mike Ladle’s third son Richard who lives in Brazil is a keen angler. Rich has been living in a coastal town, Maceio, for about a year and to be honest, although he has caught a fair number of fish, many of them have been small and most were caught on bait. He is a keen lure angler and more recently he has started to get the hang of catching fish on his spinning gear. These efforts culminated, at the end of last April, in him hooking and losing a ‘monster’ while fishing from his kayak, off the beach just outside his house. He sent the following account to Mike:-
While you were sunning yourself and losing giant tarpon in Tobago I’ve been continuing to explore the kayak fishing just outside my house. I’ve had two notable successes and one oddity since my last report.
First the oddity. I was trolling over the sand near the reef with a slow sinking, trout pattern Rapala when the rod gave a small twang. It looked like the lure had caught a bit of weed but as I wound in I thought I felt the odd fishy knock. Much to my surprise a small peacock flounder was attached to the lure. I remember you catching one of these on a Rapala from a sandy beach in Tobago, but unlike yours my one was quite dull – possibly because the water tends to be a bit murky?
My first ‘success’ was that I finally managed to land a sennet – I think I’ve already told you that I lost one at the boat a while back, so it was good to finally get one in my hands. It jumped around a bit but was much like a jack barracuda – a couple of fast runs followed by a bit of leaping and wriggling. I caught another one a few days later – both taken on a jointed Rapala fairly close to the reef (I ate the first one – delicious fried whole).
Finally, my big success… As you know, after losing a really good fish a couple of months ago I decided to beef the tackle-up. I used the Surepopper instead of the Surespin, out went the old Okuma reel and in came the Stella complete with 50lb braid and 25lb monofilament trace. However, up until yesterday I was still waiting for another bite from something worth catching. It came just as the sun was going down and I was gently drifting into shore, across the sea grass beds where I had had lost the monster fish that dumped me out of the kayak. This time I was spinning from the kayak with the un-jointed, trout-coloured Rapala, plopping the lure about 15m away and winding it back with a steady retrieve. On my last cast of the night the lure was grabbed and the line hissed through the water as a big fish started ripping line from the clutch.
Mindful of my previous pratfall, I hunkered down in the kayak and slowly increased the drag on the Stella – the fish was still making powerful surges but, crucially, I was gaining line in between successive runs and, combined with dragging the kayak against the wind, it was clearly tiring. After 5 minutes I got my first glimpse as a giant silver shape jumped in the gathering murk about 20m away me. After another 5 minutes it was at the boat – a gigantic snook – even bigger than the twenty pounder I caught at Turtle beach a couple of years ago.
Finally, I managed to bring the exhausted fish along the side of the kayak, but was (understandably, I think) nervous about sliding my hands through its gills in case I got caught on the lure. However, by this time the wind had blown me closer to the beach and after 5 more minutes I was able to slip into the water and drag the kayak and the fish towards the shore (about 50 m away). After what seemed like an eternity I finally managed to beach the monster snook – I quickly dragged it up the beach, unhooked it, and offered various thanks to the God of Small Fishermen.
As an interesting aside to this story – I decided to keep the snook, they taste wonderful and retail for about £12 a kilo over here. When I gutted it I found it was full of half-beaks (small needle-fish). It had obviously been up in the eel grass hunting for these tasty little fish. I guess that if I keep flogging away at dusk and dawn I might catch more big snook. This one was a touch under 12kg and just a few pounds short of the Brazilian record.
Hope to see you in Brazil soon,