Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page

Freshwater Fishing

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 several 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. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. 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).

Carp and pike excitement.

It's been another one of those slow times. Firstly there were no maggots to tempt the mullet. If the tides were right for the bass the weather wasn't. If I felt like going to the river it poured down and there was an unfishable flood. Even the carp in my local lakes refused to cooperate when I wanted them to. Of course I'm making excuses for myself - there's always something I could do but it was never the sort of fishing that I fancied. Anyway, I was at a bit of a loose end so I decided to have an hour of peace and quiet while trying again to catch a carp.

My idea was to fall back on tactics which have served me well in the past, so I took a small bag of frozen breadcrusts from the freezer, tied a new size 6, strong carp hook on the end of the braid and set off. I parked the car and walked along the margin of the first lake until I came to a big patch of water lilies. By now the leaves are all on the surface and form an almost complete carpet with lots of buds and flowers sticking up in the gaps. I impaled a crust the size of a matchbox on my hook and stood watching. For several minutes there was no movement of the leaves and I was beginning to wonder whether I'd picked the wrong tactics yet again. However, eventually I saw a leaf shudder and then another moved close by. I swung the crust out and let it drop just beyond the movement before drawing it back to lay between two leaves with the line resting across the lily pads.

It wasn't long before the rudd found my bait and began to make it twitch and jerk about. I never worry too much about this as the baits are large enough to tolerate a fair bit of abuse and the activities of small fish tend to draw the bait to the attention of carp. After about five minutes the rod tip began to jerk and bounce before being pulled round. Could it be a carp? I picked up the rod and the line pulled tight but it was just a slightly larger rudd which had managed to absorb the bait and hook itself. I took a picture before putting the fish back and swinging out another crust.

This time it was only minutes before the rod really pulled round and the clutch began to screech - a carp at last. I leaned back on the rod and heaved the fish through the lilies. To my delight, after a short tug-of-war it swam out into open water. Now it was only a matter of preventing the fish from returning to the 'jungle'. I slid it into the net and took a couple of pictures before releasing it - about eight pounds I reckoned. After the disturbance I moved on to try a number of other places but although I found a few more carp on the surface none of them were interested in my floating crusts. It was nearly time to go home now so I thought I'd have one final go in the lilies where I'd caught the first fish.

Sure enough the movement of the leaves showed that at least three fish were actively moving under the surface. I plopped my crust into a small gap laid the rod down, closed the bale arm and waited. A pair of rubbery lips pushed up through the lilies and sucked in the crust, the rod whanged over and I was in again. The fight was very similar to the first one although the fish was a pound or two heavier. Carp can certainly pull a bit and I was well pleased as my second fish slid out of the net and swam away. Excellent!

A couple of days later I went to the river in search of my first coarse fish of the new season. I had my little Teklon spinning rod, fixed spool reel and Nanofil line. On the end of the line was a short trace of clear Amnesia terminating in a length of knottable, anti-pike wire and a J9 black and silver Rapala.

It was a relief when I found the river low and clear, as my previous visit resulted in an early bath because it was high, dirty and unfishable. After negotiating nettles, brambles, reeds and a fallen alder tree I managed to wade onto the shallows and began to make my way upstream, casting into any likely looking spot as I went. On my first cast the lure was followed by a decent trout but it refused to take. After that there was nothing for a while despite the conditions looking ideal. Today the wind was behind me so it was relatively easy to flick the plug a long distance without the line being blown onto the bankside vegetation.

On the right hand bank as I looked upstream was a fast, deep run with an overhanging willow bush. My first two casts dropped perfectly, just short of the bush. Nothing! I was confident of my casting now so the next time the lure dropped several yards upstream and just outside of the willow. I knocked the bale arm over and began to wind fast enough to make the plug work with the current. As it passed the overhanging shrub it was taken and I quickly played a three pound plus chub down to my side. I unhooked and released my capture well pleased to have got one. Now I was at the upstream end of the shallows. I swung the rod and the little balsa lure sailed upstream a long way; I retrieved steadily and about half way back I felt the tell tale bump, bump on the rod before a savage pull signalled that a pike had taken my lure. It was only a few pounds but it put up a fair old struggle, splashing and taking line, before I could unhook and release it. I wandered back downstream with no more bites until I reached the pool below the shallow stretch where I had another pike similar to the first one. Good fun!

I went back to the car and drove to another stretch of river further downstream. This time I was fishing the tail of a big pool. Almost immediately I had a couple of small perch then I hooked a pike similar in size to the ones I'd already caught. A few casts later and a second pike took the lure - just as well I had the wire trace on. I wandered back across the pool casting up into the deep water and winding back down to the shallows. I was almost back to the bank when I had a good take from the largest pike of the session - roughly the same size as the carp I'd caught a couple of days earlier. It ripped off line in a series of short runs and several times it thrashed wildly on the surface - exciting stuff - but eventually I was able to unhook and release it. After that I had one more small perch, from the deeper water, on a Mepps, then I went home.

As I drove back I considered the struggles of the two carp and the larger pike. I decided that they had been similar in most respects although the carp probably had a bit more stamina and the pike moved a good deal faster on its runs. The smaller pike were much livelier than my chub and the perch were too small to put up much resistance. Anyway, at least I'd caught a few fish, enough to encourage me to go again, soon.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you!' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to -

The rudd which managed to absorb my carp bait and hook.


My first carp - a decent fish.


Another carp, slimmer but a bit bigger.


My first pike ready to be unhooked.


... and another small pike on the Rapala.


The third pike having a bit of a thrash.


Yet another one beautifully hooked and ready to be released.


The largest pike going crazy. It did this several times.


Nice fish.