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).

The excitement of surface fishing.

Of course I knew that the fine sunny weather combined with the Easter holidays would bring anglers onto the banks. However, I hadn't quite anticipated how many people would be fishing on my local lakes. Fortunately, nearly all the anglers were carp fishermen and every one was armed with a bivvy, three rods, etc. etc. - all of the paraphernalia which seems to be necessary for trying to catch carp these days. I say fortunately because they all carry their gear on huge barrows piled high with nets, bait, and other essentials. This means that they need a nice area of level ground to set up their 'camp' and this in turn means that they almost all stick to the prepared pitches, leaving big stretches of bank with no one fishing. Ideal for my single rod and little bag of bread approach.

Usually I venture out after mid-day for a couple of hours, not because I think it's the best time for a spot of carp fishing but because it's convenient for my daily schedule of gardening etc. By the time I arrive at the water most of the other anglers are already well established. Indeed some of them have been there for twenty four hours or more. My first approach is to walk quietly round the banks (the bits where no one else is fishing) looking for fish. When I see a few carp basking or cruising I generally start by impaling a piece of crust on the hook and lobbing or lowering (depending how near to the bank the fish are) it onto the water. I try, if possible, to make sure that the line hangs straight down from the rod tip or is similarly placed over a reed stem or twig. If I can't do that I draw the bait back until it lies at the edge of a lily leaf or similar floating object. I don't know whether it really matters but you'll gather that I don't like having any line on the water in case the fish notice it. Since the carp reject freebies and hookbaits with the same sort of reactions my little ritual may be quite illogical.

I rarely bother with free offerings to start with, reasoning that if a carp does take a piece of bread it must be the one on my hook. Then the wait starts. Usually, if the bait falls near a basking fish, the carp slowly sidles away or disappears into the depths. For perhaps five or ten minutes I stand or sit by my rod (laying on the bankside vegetation) and looking for signs of movement near the bait. Sometimes the rudd find the bread and begin to worry it to bits. At other times it simply lies there, unmolested. The carp appear to patrol the water in small groups so I'll see a few reeds knocking or a shaking leaf or perhaps the whelm of a fish moving near the water surface. The excitement mounts as signs of activity come nearer to the position of my bait. A brown shadow slides towards the bread and swirls away causing the crust to bob about. Five minutes later a pair of rubbery lips suck tentatively at the baited hook before sinking back into the depths. By now the anticipation is almost unbearable. If I'm unlucky the fish doesn't return and the rudd finish off their demolition job on my crust. Or perhaps the carp manages to suck the bait off the hook causing me to reel in and have another go. Ideally the fish comes back after its first inspections of the bait, confidently sucks it in and turns away, hooking itself and yanking the rod tip round.

Of course I may have picked a poor spot and the bread remains unnoticed, so after perhaps half-an-hour I have to try another place. Alternatively, the fish may show no interest so I throw in two or three crusts to see if I can get them going. On the whole I land about one fish per hour of fishing time when I'm using surface baits. This may seem a bit slow compared to other forms of fishing but time passes only too quickly when I'm holding my breath and waiting for a fish to return to the bait. The excitement is quite different to the adrenaline rush when a bass grabs the plug or the frustration of waiting for mullet to absorb a maggot fly, but it is good fun surface fishing for carp!

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 -

Recent carp.

This common took a crust right under the rod tip.

- and another.

A nice mirror that hooked itself after taking a crust cast over a reed stem.