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 orchids.

I was in one of the local bookshops this morning and, as usual, I had a quick browse through the fishing book. Of course it's very rare to find anything new or original on the shelf and this was no exception. There were the usual generic picture books about 'Fishing' - everything you ever needed to know in a few pages - not!. Also there were a number of specialist texts, clearly sponsored by magazines or tackle manufacturers/wholesalers. The latter were mostly about carp fishing so I picked one up and began to search for information about surface feeding behaviour. I was hoping that I might pick up one or two ideas relating to my own favoured approach - no such luck!!!. There were lots of nice colour pictures and diagrams and masses of detailed descriptions of fancy rigs, artificial baits and which is the best type of 'pellet' or dog biscuit but almost nothing about how to find your carp and having found it how to catch it.

The truth is that catching carp on the top is very simple. Too simple I'm afraid to sell much in the way of tackle or bait. The lakes I fish are pretty 'natural' (for clay/gravel pits) with lots of overhanging trees, marginal reeds and sedges and big patches of water lilies and floating pondweeds. Some carp swim about in open water and you often see them basking or cruising along with their dorsal fins touching the surface. These fish are sometimes catchable on floating baits but they do tend to be rather wary of baits attached to lines. Much more reliable in my experience is a bait placed in the snags with all the line off the water. If you can it's probably best to have quiet walk round the lake looking for shaking reeds, wobbling water or tenting lilies to give you a clue as to the whereabouts of carp. These will be the places to try first. I use a strong size six hook tied direct to the end of my 30lb Whiplash braid. The rod is usually one of my 15-60g bass spinning rods (they really are tough tools and carp are a good test simulation for giant bass) and my 4000 size Shimano fixed spool reel. That basically is that!

The hook is pushed into a piece of crust about the size of a big match box from the crumb side, twisted round and tucked back into the crust. Depending where I want to fish I then either - flick the bait so that the line is draped over a twig or a reed stem with only the bait on the water vertically below or - lower the crust from the rod tip right into the marginal reeds or - cast the crust onto the lily pads and draw it back until it rests in a gap between two leaves with the line laying completely on top of the leaves. Now, in every case, I close the bale arm, lay the rod down and more or less tighten the line.

At this point I need to pay full attention because a bite may come at any time and I don't want to see my rod and reel arrowing out into the lake. I NEVER leave the rod and generally my hand is on the butt as I sit and wait. On occasion I have to be patient for up to half-an-hour, sometimes nothing materialises so I decide to try elsewhere but often, after a few minutes with the rudd pecking away at my bait, there will be a big slurp and the rod will be dragged round as a carp hooks itself. Frequently the fish will then charge off into open water and it's just a matter of playing it to the net. Lily pad fishing is perhaps the most taxing because the carp will usually plough away through the stems with me hanging on for dear life and trying to give the minimum of line. At times it may feel that the fish has buried itself for ever but with a little persuasion and a sequence of tightening and easing the pressure it usually comes out and I can play and net it.

Of course there are other approaches to catching carp on floaters and there are certainly many more experienced carpers than myself but I average roughly one decent (10-20lb give or take) carp an hour over my season and I only fish short sessions of a couple of hours. So it's certainly exciting if not quite hectic. Although carp fishing may not be everyone's cup of tea the fish tend to be big, the anticipation is electric and the carp pull like trains. You also have the added benefits of hearing the birds, seeing the 'wildlife' (insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, etc.) and the amazing plants, so what's not to enjoy?

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 -

Small one.

This fat eight or nine pound mirror took in the lily pads.


A beautiful near twenty common with nice orange fins - again extracted from the densely packed lily pads.

Bee orchid.

Couldn't resist a picture as I walked back after catching the carp.

Heath spotted orchid.

I think that's what it is - they are pretty common near the lakes I fish.