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).

Crust is still good for carp.

Hot, sunny, calm weather would normally tempt me down to the coast for a 'crack of dawn' session after scad, mackerel, and pollack but recent experience has shown that they are thin on the ground at my usual haunts. When it's like this I tend to resort to an afternoon on my local club (W.& D.A.C.)lakes which are only five minutes down the road from our house. Having recently caught a good carp from one of the four lakes on a floating crust I was quite keen to have another go. My usual tactic is about as simple as it could get - no rigs, no boilies, no dips, no groundbaits, no rests, no buzzers. I tie a size 6, strong, barbless or micro-barbed hook direct to the end of my line, bait it with a decent sized (4-5cm across) lump of bread crust ( I find the 'small split' loaf from my bakers is just right and provides enough crusts for about four sessions) (no more than 30 or 40p per trip).

I'll generally walk round the lakes to try and find carp activity - cruising or basking fish, shaking reeds, tenting lily leaves, etc. etc. Having located a carp it's rarely a good idea to chuck a bait straight at it. This is likely to make your intended catch sidle away, although occasionally a bait plopped on the nose of your objective may be taken. Nor do I find that carp in open water are all that keen to take, far better to place your crust a metre or so away from fish that are in reed beds, under trees or beneath lily pads. If possible I try to keep all the line off the water either by casting over a twig or reed stem or into a gap between floating leaves. Then I close the bale arm, lay the rod down and gently wind the handle of the reel until the line is either hanging vertically down from the selected support or the crust is resting tight against a pad. I rarely bother with any free offerings because if a carp takes a crust I want it to be the one on my hook.

Now comes the wait. If the fish is fairly close to your floating crust it will certainly be aware of it so everything depends on whether it is sufficiently hungry and interested to take it. If it isn't you may have a long, fruitless wait. I reckon that twenty minutes is usually enough to see if you are likely to have a take. In this length of time, provided that small fish such as rudd haven't knocked the bread off the hook, a carp is likely to have shown interest. If a fish has nuzzled or nudged the floating bait and left it, it will probably come back again so I leave it. If a 'nudger' has removed the bait it's worth replacing it and putting it in or near the same spot. If nothing happens I usually try elsewhere.

The approach of a carp to a crust is usually very obvious. Nearby reeds will shudder, lily leaves will move, lift or flap. Whatever you do NEVER LEAVE THE ROD or you are likely to see it arrowing out into the lake. If the crust has been in the water for a few minutes it will have swollen and softened so the fish will have no trouble sucking it in. When this happens I don't pick up the rod immediately and I certainly don't strike. Usually the line will tighten the tip will pull round and the fish will be on. Now I grab the rod and the fun begins.

To finish off I'll describe the capture of a carp last week. I'd placed the crust on the far side of a lily bed, tight against the leaves. Beyond the lilies was a dense clump of Canadian pondweed and then a stretch of open water before a dense bed of reeds, perhaps twenty metres from where I sat. I'd seen a couple of carp moving beyond the lilies so I was quite hopeful. Perhaps ten minutes after I'd cast a fish swam up to the bait and sucked it in. Action! I snatched up the rod and with the clutch screaming the fish tore away from me towards the reed bed. Panic stations! I was palming the spool and leaning back as hard as I dared but the carp wasn't stopping and it ploughed into the reeds. The added resistance of the line across the reed stems was too much for it so it slowed and stopped. I took a few steps to my right with the rod held high, the line twanged off a clump of reeds and the fish began to kite across, crashing through the brown stems. I took a couple of steps backwards with the spool clamped under my hand and this dragged the fish out into a clear space. It rushed around making short runs in different directions but it was in the open water so I wasn't concerned. When I could I regained a little line by pumping. Now it was coming towards me, but a bit too fast, and it plunged into the mass of pondweed. Everything went solid. I tried jerking the line and pulling but no joy. Once again I clamped the spool and began to walk backwards slowly. The rod creaked and the line was singing then suddenly there was movement. the carp came free and now it was under control. In went the net and at the second attempt I steered it across the rim. Phew!

With the net still in the water I wangled my little camera out of the bag and screwed it onto its tiny tripod. Set the timer, press the button, pick the fish up, excellent. A quick measure and weigh and back it went, fit as a fiddle. Thirty two pounds of fantastic 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 -

Simple tactics, nice fish, hell of a battle.


A ten pounder I had before packing in.