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).

Good start with the carp.

Yesterday afternoon we had to go shopping in Dorchester followed immediately by an evening trip to a meeting in Ringwood. It was impossible to time everything we had to do precisely so we spent a fair bit of time sitting about waiting for things to happen. To while away the minutes I lashed out and bought myself a copy of “Angling Times”. The first time I saw A.T. I was passing a newsagents in Leeds. It was issue number 3 in July 1953 and I went in and bought it (I think it cost about 4d). After that I bought one every week mainly to read the wise words of Richard Walker. It’s now some decades since I bought or read one so it was an experience.

Anyway, yesterday’s copy had a supplementary carp magazine and I realised, as I looked at the features and advertisements, just how much things have changed. I do a fair bit of carp fishing in my local club ponds these days (when the sea fishing is quiet) and I see lots of ‘conventional carpers’ sitting behind buzzer bars and arrays of three rods presumably armed with all the things I read about but don't understand. I have to say I found the jargon almost incomprehensible and the cost of gear and bait made my eyes water. I know that I’m a skinflint but feeding in sixty quid’s worth of boilies in a session! You have to be joking - however big the carp you are trying to catch!

Let me give a few examples picked at random from the pages. Just to show that I’m not a complete dinosaur I think that modern, strong, barbless or micro-barbed, carp hooks are the business. I’m just about familiar with hair rigs, pop-ups, pellets, plastic baits, barrows, bivvies, brollys, bed-chairs and boilies although I’ve never resorted to using any of them. However this is only scratching the surface because stiff-hinged noodle rigs, coated braid booms, steamed loops, zig rigs, spombs, cork ball rollers, castable fish finders, castable fish cams, power packs, PVA stockings and the like, which now seem to be essential, were mysteries to me. I even found (but didn’t read) a review of which van you should buy to convey you and your carp gear to the water.

However, it’s when you come to the stuff you put on the hook that things really get ridiculous. Although I've no idea what most of them are are the must haves seem to be wafters, munchies, pop-ups, sticky pellets and boilies of every flavour and colour known to man. These need (it seems) to be glugged, soaked or coated in an even greater range of gloopy, slimy, attractors, flavour enhancers and feeding stimulants if you are to fool the crafty old carp. The 30 pence worth of farmhouse loaf that I generally use for one of my carp sessions begins to look laughable.

Having perused the magazine (and I have to say slightly knocked my confidence) I was inspired to see whether I could still actually catch a carp without using any of the paraphernalia. It was (at long last) a pleasant sunny day and after lunch I went for a couple of hours to the nearest lakes. I was using (DON’T SNIGGER!) my bass rod, fixed spool reel and 20lb braid. On the end of the braid was a size 4, strong, barbless hook and in my jacket pocket was a small bag of large crust cubes from the loaf.

As I arrived I met two anglers who were just leaving (pushing their barrows) and they jokingly suggested that I should turn round and go back home. Anyway, I set up the rod, shouldered my bag and walked round the banks looking for movement. I generally find the fish in reed beds at this time of year. Last year’s reed stems are pretty dry and brittle but they still shudder if a carp shoulders its way through them. The first spot I stopped at I could see fishy movement, so on went a hefty piece of crust and I plopped it out so that the line lay across the reeds. For perhaps twenty minutes I stood watching and although I saw several carp lounging about nearby none of them approached my crust. Was it lack of flavour? The wrong colour? The absence of glug?

I reeled in and rebaited before swinging the crust out a couple of metres to my right where I’d seen a carp moving. Again the bait fell onto the water surface and the line lay across the dry reed stems. I closed the bale, lay the rod down and waited. Within minutes the rod was dragged over and I was in. To be fair the carp seemed surprised and was soon in the net. It was only twelve or thirteen pounds but a nice mirror and a good start to my year.

There was another patch of reeds not far along the bank from where I’d had the fish so after taking a picture and putting it back I moved along to try there. The entire procedure was repeated – nothing in the first spot then a good take and this time the fish went berserk. It was probably five minutes before I could gain any control with the carp crashing through the reed stems and me trying to keep a tight line. Eventually I managed to slide it into the net and it was clearly a lot bigger than my first fish – a good common in excellent condition. To avoid messing it about in the bright sunlight I measured its length, 72 cm, and quickly took a picture before sliding it back into the water. It was an excellent way to end my afternoon’s fishing. Two proper bites and two carp – one in the upper twenties; not bad for a couple of hours fishing!

I walked round the rest of the lake and saw lots more carp before I left. Can’t wait to have another go. The absence of added scent, taste or colour seems to have made little difference to the fishing so I expect I'll be using a bit more of my small loaf from the freezer.

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 mirror - a damaged mouth presumably due to cutting from someone's trace?


My second fish - much larger.


It actually kept still for my selfie.