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 time again.

It's coarse fishing close season on the rivers now (I've no idea why they still have one), so if I want to catch something it's either the sea (which can be a bit unpredictable), fly-only for scarce salmon, or the lakes/ponds/etc. This week the forecast is for unusual warmth and pleasant, sunny conditions so I thought I might try an early (for me) carp session. This has its down side - not least the mockery of my pals, some of whom think that carp are inferior creatures. Now, let's be honest I'm not a great fan of stocked, fish-in-a-barrel, type waters and would be reluctant to pay massive day ticket fees simply to try and catch carp which were known by name. However, I was reared on a diet of Richard Walker's books and I still enjoy a spot of carping on my local club waters.

Don't get the wrong idea. Not for me the truck-load of tackle and vast menu of gourmet baits - for one thing I'm too mean to invest in such things even if it seemed worth doing. My tackle is the simplest. A rod and reel (the same ones I use for bass etc.), a strong, barbless hook and half-a-dozen cubes of bread-crust.

When I arrived at the water I knew that I had a couple of hours at my disposal. It was my first visit of the year, so I opted to walk round as many of the margins as I could looking to see if there was anything visible. Several anglers were already fishing when I arrived (at about 13:30hr), so I kept well out of their way(s), but it wasn't long before I spotted the ripples, shaking reeds, bubbles and shadowy silhouettes of carp. One good sized fish (10kg+?) was left in peace because it was close to an already occupied swim.

I trudged on and soon found myself in vacant territory, where the lake was thickly overgrown with last year's dry reed stems, the odd fallen branch, and carpets of floating organic debris. There were even more signs of carp in this undisturbed bay and the sun was slanting its rays towards the reedy end of the lake. I should have continued on my walk but the temptation was too great. I put down the bag and the net and progged a piece of crust onto my size 6 hook. Swinging the bait underhand I flicked it out, so that it fell on the far side of a group of reed stems, laid down the rod and tightened the line until it hung straight down from a slanting stem to where the crust floated on the surface of the water. Now I had to wait. This, for me, is one of the great attractions of carp fishing. I leaned against a handy, waterside tree and, with a minimum of movement (I'm even reluctant to scratch and itchy nose), watched for carp approaching my bait. Twenty minutes passed with nothing but the odd splash out in the reedbed and a couple of fish gently cruising past where I stood. There was virtually no wind, so the bait simply lay where it had fallen. Would a carp find it? I remembered the feeling of doubt that always comes over me at this point - had I cast to a suitable spot? "Patience Mike, don't panic." I waited and waited some more. A smallish carp approached the bait which was now thoroughly soaked and floating low in the water. The fish angled upwards and nuzzled the bread a couple of times before turning and swimming away again.

Now, I was confident that at least one fish knew where my bait was. I waited some more and after five minutes another fish (possibly the same one?) approached the crust and gave it another couple of nudges with its snout before again sidling away into the open water. I could still see a whitish lump, which appeared to be my bait, so again I waited. Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes passed with no further action, and now my doubts were growing, particularly as I could see other carp well within short casting range, swirling and moving about. Eventually I just had to check the bait, so I picked up the rod and reeled in. Sure enough, for almost half-an-hour I'd been watching a pale leaf of pondweed. Never mind, try again. I attached another cube of crust and flicked it to a different spot straight in front of me. Again the line fell nicely over a sloping reed stem. This time I did not have to wait for too long before something came up and pushed the bread. Once more the crust lay still, but after a few more minutes it twitched again and this time it disappeared and the rod began to pull round. I grabbed the butt and the fish was on.

I'd almost forgotten how hard carp can pull. The huge, brown tail thrashed the water to foam and I hung on to avoid the fish ploughing into the reeds. I slowly raised the rod drew the fish towards me - this looked as though it was going to be easy then the line caught up round a submerged twiggy branch. I pressed my finger on the edge of the spool and tried to shift both fish and vegetation towards me. This stirred the carp into action, and I had to ease off as it rushed away down the lake with the clutch buzzing. The run was about twenty metres or so and then I had to work the fish back towards me. When it was close enough I picked up the net and placed it in the water with the handle gripped between my knees. Lift the head of the fish, one more pull and it was in the meshes. Fantastic! I slid the net ashore and quickly unhooked the carp before taking a couple of pictures and returning it to the water. An excellent start to my carp angling year. Can't wait to have another go.

My carp, ashore and ready to go back.


A quick selfie and back it goes.


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 -