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 from the lilies.

Every so often I feel moved to try and catch a carp or two. Usually it's when the weather is warm and sunny and generally it's in the middle of the day. I enjoy fishing with a floating bait and the convenient one is a piece of a small farmhouse loaf from my local bakers. Since the carp are less than cooperative if I simply lob the bait into open water I've devised a strategy for winkling them out of the places they choose to stay in during the heat of the day. The lakes that I fish have fishing platforms around the edge and some of them are placed close to beds of water lilies. Carp love to rest under the shade of lily pads in the heat of the day so that's where I seek them out.

If you hook a decent carp in a lily bed you have to somehow extract it before it wraps the line round half a ton of stems and leaves. The only effective way to do this is by hanging on and persuading the fish to skim across the surface into open water. My own approach, which seems to be effective, is to use braided line and tie a strong, size 6, barbless, eyed hook directly to the line. No need for hair rigs, controllers or other gadgetry, simply stick the hook through the crust from the crumb side, twist it round 180 degrees and pull it back into the crust. Now you're in business.

You can, if you wish, throw a few free crusts onto the lily pads to stimulate a bit of action but usually there's no need. Simply sit and watch for a while until you see where a carp is nudging or tenting up the pads then swing the baited hook into a nearby gap in the leaves. Wind up any slack until the bait lies at the edge of a leaf and all the line is out of the water then close the bale arm and lay the rod down somewhere handy. After you've done this NEVER leave the rod. I sit beside mine with a hand hovering over the butt because the fish are quite capable of pulling your gear into the water. The subsequent wait can be long or short. I've sometimes waited for as much as half-an-hour and at other times the bite has come within seconds.

Of course there are other more sophisticated ways of catching carp and there are many more experienced and better carp anglers than me, however I can make one or two observations on my approach which may be of interest. Firstly, carp seem more inclined to take a crust that has soaked up enough water to float with most of it below the surface. After a long wait the crust will have softened so much that a fish may suck it off the hook without being hooked. If this happens I just reel in, bait up again and replace the bait close to where it was taken. Often the fish will quickly return to take the new offering. If the fish are not in a 'taking mood' (I never know 'til I try) it can be frustrating to put in freebies. Better to give them no choice but the hookbait. If you do throw a few loose crusts in as tempters one or two may land on top of floating leaves. The carp will know that they are there (presumably they form a shadow on the leaf) and may come up and try to dislodge them into the water. This suggests a way of avoiding the 'long soak - soggy crust' problem. Simply damp the bait with a quick dunk and then rest it on top of a leaf. When a fish starts to move it's an easy matter to swing the moist crust to a gap close to the action. The take could follow swiftly.

What do I do when I get a bite? I find that the most effective tactic is to let the carp hook itself and begin to drag the rod round before I pick it up. Grabbing the rod and trying to strike has usually resulted in missed fish. Once the carp is firmly hooked the secret is then to wrestle it out of and over the lilies. Even big fish can be surprisingly easy to haul out and once they are swimming free the rest is easy.

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 -

Lily pad carp.

This nice common took as soon as the bait was in the water.


Not all carp look like beach balls with fins.