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).

Day and night.

Much of my river fishing takes place in the middle of the day. With the recent hot, sunny weather this is not the ideal time to catch fish. Having said that I generally manage to catch something by spinning. Trout and perch, for example, will often bite in the white water under the sill of a weir and chub lurk under bushes and floating mats of vegetation. My latest trip, however, was not very successful; it was mid-afternoon and the sun was blazing down. Wearing chest waders so that I could paddle to access the better spots I was more or less being slow cooked unless I was in the water. A newly discovered microscopic slit near the big toe of my boot was letting enough water in to make my foot nice and soggy. As a result I was quite pleased when I had a bite in a shallow glide and hooked a small chub of well under a pound. I took its picture and fished on but it was another half hour before my second and last bite of the session produced another similar chub. Better than nothing!

When I returned home I brooded over the poor fishing and resolved to try first light on my next trip. At the end of June I'd lure fished the same stretch of river at the crack of dawn and caught a variety of fish but on that occasion nothing bit until it began to get light - it was worth another try. A few days later I set the alarm clock and dragged myself out of bed to drive to the river. When I arrived it was still pretty dark, so at the tail of a big pool I began to fan-cast my little black and silver Rapala to cover as much water as possible. Using fine braid it's pretty easy to cast even a lighweight balsa plug a long way.

For perhaps twenty minutes nothing happened apart from the lure picking up a few wisps of flannel weed from the shallow stony bed. The tiniest fragment of leaf or filament of algae kills the action of small balsa plugs dead - a bit of a nuisance but very useful because you know at once whether the lure is fouled. The light was slowly improving but the sky was pretty overcast. Now the plug was almost back to my feet when it was grabbed by a pike. I always use a wire trace when I'm spinning local rivers to avoid being bitten off by pike so I wasn't worried. The fish did the usual tail walking and splashing before I was able to subdue it enough for a couple of pictures and release it. It looked as though my previous experience of takes at first light was correct, excellent!

After a few more casts and a missed bite I moved up to the deeper part of the pool and switched to a number 4 Ondex spinner to search the deeper water. It wasn't long before I hooked and landed a rather bigger pike. The next cast I contacted a good perch. I could tell from the bumping, boring battle that it was a perch, and I began to play it back in. Nearly there! Everything went solid. The fish had found a snag - probably a sunken tree trunk. Bugger! Try as I might it was impossible to release the lure so eventually I pulled for a break and left the spinner on the bottom of the river before going home for my breakfast.

Just one last amusing incident - nothing to do with the river fishing. The afternoon after I'd had my dawn session I decided to try and catch a carp. Here's the account I emailed to my fishing pals.

I used the usual kit - Surespin, Stradic, 30lb Whiplash and a size 6 strong hook baited with a lump of crust from the freezer (too mean to keep buying fresh loaves and frozen bread is fine). After a couple of hours with only a single bite that sucked the crust off I moved to another spot. I could see a few nice carp basking in the gaps between the floating leaves of the pondweed so I flicked a crust into a handy space and drew it in 'til it rested against the leaves. I laid the rod on the ground and waited. After about half an hour a fish took the crust so I grabbed the rod and hung on. It pulled a bit and took a while to get it in the net - a beautiful, fat common carp and I'm thinking "That's my best this year! Could be my best ever."

I measured the fish in the net and it was 76cm long - that's big! (Easily my biggest ever carp). I was so excited that I didn't take its picture in the net as normal but set the camera on time release to get a selfie straight away. The net had tangled round the serrated anal fin spine so I spent a couple of minutes untangling it. I pressed the camera button and picked up the carp which was nice and quiet by now. It went berserk and I couldn't hold it. It sprang out of my arms, slithered down the bank into the lake and swiftly buggered off - so no picture. I packed in and went home. "What an unfortunate event!" I muttered to myself.

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 -

The first of my small mid-afternoon chub.


Another similar chub on the Rapala.


A Rapala'd pike in the gloom.


The same pike still going.


A bigger pike on the spinner.


Now it's tiring.


Close up shows the woolly tail on the spinner.


Me without my carp.