Monthly Archives: July 2014

Lure Fishing for River Specimens on the kayak

Sea Fishing was always my favourite type of fishing, but over the last few years, with the rising price of fuel, dodgy weather and a 2.5 hour journey, I have started to fish the rivers close to my home in the Westcountry. After a slow start, I have recently experienced some incredible lure fishing, which has made me think again before taking the long drive to the sea.

I have been using light tackle, small soft plastics and crankbaits and fishing the bits of the river rarely (if ever) fished by anyone else. The results have been nothing short of spectactular, and I will share some of the experiences with you here.

I have been using the Maria crankbaits from Veals mail order for over a year now; and after a trip to Australia kayak fishing, I realised how devestating the method can be. I was pretty sure that the same style of fishing would work in the rivers over here.


I use 5kg braided main line (Varivas is great), a 3 foot flourocarbon rubbing leader of about 15lbs, and a 1 foot biting wire trace made from 5kg Nova silk wire. I use soft plastic paddle tail baitsfished on jig heads ranging from 2g to 10g.

We paddle up the river looking for likely spots. This is the key to fishing. You need to know what to look for. When you are fishing in the kayak, likely spots are usually the most in-accessible… fish soon learn to avoid the disturbance caused by bank anglers.

When fishing for pike, I look for weed beds running across the river. 9 times out of 10, if you find the weed beds, you will find the pike. Big chub love to hide under trees and in and around tree roots. Perch seem to love cuts in the bank where the current scours out a deep bit under vegetation.

All of these spots are difficult to fish with conventional tactics and tackle, but with a high risk strategy on the kayak, the results can be spectacular. You have to be willing to sacrifice some of your lures. The idea is to cast as close to these features as possible, on some trees, you even aim at the trunk itself, and bounce the lure off and down its side (a tactic called ‘flipping’). However good a caster you are, you will lose tackle. Fishing weedless will cut your losses, but you will also not hook as many fish, stick to the jigs and micro cranks and you will catch. Mornings and evenings are the best times for fishing the river in the summer. The water cools down, and the boat traffic disappears.

Pike are probably the most obliging fish to catch.


Once you find the location and the right colour of lure, you can catch alot of pike. I have found that very often multiple pike will inhabit the same weed bed.



I was always told that chub were not easy to catch, especially big ones, but I seem to have had some level of success on the kayak using lures to catch these fantastic fish. They seem to have a preference for the crank baits over soft plastics. I had one session where I caught 3 fish all over 4lbs.


A few days later I went back and caught another really big chub in the middle of the day (it was clear and hot). The fish clearly had not read the script.


Perch are my bogey fish. I can go out and catch loads, but they are nearly always small fish. This all changed one day, when my kayak fishing buddies Charlie and Steve found a spot inacessible to bank anglers. Charlie was drop shotting, and had a couple of nice perch. There was a chap in a house boat, not more than 50 yards away, who told us that he had caught nothing all day. He was none to impressed when first I caught a decent chub, then Charlie followed me with a nice perch. But when I added another nice perch, I think he would gladly have swapped his house boat and tackle for our kayaks !!!


So you are probably thinking “Yeah, we’ve seen and heard it all before”… well, just remember next time your sea fishing trip has been cancelled due to bad weather, that much of your light saltwater gear can also be used in fresh water. And with lure fishing you don’t need any bait. I have had some great days on the briney, but I am beginning to warm to this freshwater lark – and Veals sell loads of quality lure fishing kit, so why not give it a try ?

Big Bass on Bait for Mike

Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve stuck to my attempts to catch bass
which are following the tide in as it began to rise. The score currently stands at
seven sessions (probably averaging 1.5hrs), seven bites/runs and five fish with an
mean weight of almost eight pounds.

I am fishing in conditions which are not generally regarded as productive for bass. In the early mornings it is often flat calm and gin clear, the breeze tends to have died away so it’s easy to sit with the bale arm open and the line in a bow from the rod tip. I put the bait a couple of metres out onto relatively clear areas of rock so there are few snags. It’s very shallow so crabs don’t seem to be a problem – the only nuisance species have been a few blennies in one or two spots that I’ve tried. Of course I don’t have to get up as early as usual because the approach is tide related rather than light related although I suspect it could be even more productive on flood tides after dark (somone else can try that).

I had a fish of just over 12 pounds yesterday (my best on the tactic so far) after missing another good run. As usual I was using my 4Surespin, Stradic, 30lb Whiplash and a 6/0 circle hook snelled to a metre or so of clear Amnesia for a trace. I shall bash on with my experimental fishing and no doubt will have my share of blanks. It will be hard to keep at it when the others are hauling them out on lures and of course I shall be giving the surface feeding mullet/bass a go at high water springs as usual and venturing to the rivers and lakes on occasion for a bit of light relief.

Nanofil line and Varivas Circle hooks

12lb+ Bass on Bait

Bass on Bait … Update

More bass on bait by Mike Ladle

Since my last report about bait fishing I’ve hatched a bit of a plan. Now I’m no better than the next angler at sticking to plans so it may never be completed but I’ll say what I intend doing. Two good fish in two short sessions, each from a different spot, was enough to encourage me to try again so I thought it would be a good idea to find as many places as I could where the tactics would work. My next effort at another spot was a blank. Only a few blennies plucked at the bait in the hour or so that I was fishing. For my fourth attempt I went back to the place that I’d had the second bass (see – I’m not very strong willed). Again I was armed with my 4Surespin rod, Shimano 4000 size reel, Whiplash braid, a clear Amnesia trace and a 6/0 circle hook. The bait was another side of my long frozen mackerel (in the freezer since I caught it last year and looking like it). I trudged along to my mark at low water, hooked the fillet through the thin end only and dropped it a couple of metres from the edge. The sea was pretty calm and the water was clear so with no wind it was easy to keep contact with the bait.
I perched on a boulder and held the rod across my knees with the bale arm open and the line held between the fingers of my left hand. At this point all there is to do is wait and watch for the tide beginning to come in. In this case I fixed my gaze on a rock which stood about 20cm clear of the water. It was probably twenty minutes or so before the water began to lap over the top of my rock and to be fair it would be a bit like watching paint dry if it were not for the anticipation of a bite.

Quite suddenly the line twitched (at first you can hardly believe it) then it twitched again, clearly something was interested in the bait. I think at this point I’d stopped breathing and I had to try and relax. Sure enough after a few seconds the line began to run out and it was drawn though my fingers faster and faster. After about ten metres had gone I gently closed the bale arm, taking care that the braid was over the roller. It drew tight, the rod began to bend and with a sharp pluck the fish had gone. “Oh deary me!” I muttered. I was uncertain whether the fish might have removed my bait but I waited for five minutes before winding in. The mackerel was still in mint condition (well it was no mankier than when I’d put it on the hook) so I gently swung it out again a couple of metres to the right of where it had been the first time.

Nanofil line landed this one

Nice bass on bait

At this point I began to wonder whether I’d missed my chance and with every passing minute the doubt grew in my mind but then – pluck! pluck! – something else was having a nibble. Almost at once the line began streaming out again so once more I waited for it to go some distance before tightening. This time the rod hooped round and with a boil and a sploosh I knew I was into a bass. The fish took some line against a tightish check so I was sure that it wan’t just a schoolie. However, it was soon sliding ashore to have its picture taken. Fifty three centimetres on my little tape and a little under two kilograms so not bad at all. It was a bit gritty after being slid ashore so I gave it a wipe and gently put it back into the water. It took a few seconds before righting itself and surging off out to sea.
Veals Mail Order Bass

Another Bass on Bait

So, that was four bites in four sessions and three fish landed. Although the third one was not very big compared to its predecessors I reckoned that four runs in four trips was pretty good. Of course the one I caught could have been the same one that I missed, I’ll never know. When I went for a fifth time (to an untried place) it was a total blank. Nevertheless I’m still enthusiastic about the tactics. It has always seemed to me that if you can devise methods that work for every state of tide and set of sea conditions you are in business so the low water plan is still strongly favoured and I intend sticking to it for as long as I can.

smaller bass

Not always doubles but still exciting.

As a footnote – I tried again this morning and landed a 5.5lb fish from another different spot. Now it’s five bites and four fish landed in six short sessions.