Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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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).

Spawning time carp.

Years ago my pal Stuart Clough and I went carp fishing on a lake in Dorset only to find that the carp were actively spawning. We tried a variety of approaches to tempt one of the fish but, not surprisingly, they showed absolutely no interest in our baits and we comprehensively blanked. A sharp lesson.

Following a fishless session at the coast earlier in the week, I decided yesterday to try and catch a carp, just to restore my confidence (I would say sanity but thatís long gone). The conditions were very hot and sunny and it was around mid-day when I began to walk round the lakes in search of a fish. A few club members were already sitting behind their groups of three rods and a couple of my most likely spots were occupied so I kept going until I was well clear of anyone else. As it happened from where I stopped I could see two other carp anglers in pitches on the opposite side of the lake but it was clear from their behaviour and snatches of shouted conversation that they were having no joy.

I swung out a bread crust to the far edge of a small patch of water lilies, put down the rod and waited. I hadnít been fishing long when a loud splash, over to my right, caught my attention. I looked up to see that in an area of reeds bordered by thick growths of Canadian pondweed, small groups of carp were thrashing around and chasing through the vegetation. My hopes sank to zero - they were spawning!

Nothing for it but to wait and see what happened but I wasnít optimistic. There was no spawning activity in the vicinity of where I stood so perhaps there would be a fish or two that were not preoccupied with sex? That was my hope anyway. I waited and after perhaps ten minutes I saw the lily pads close to my crust begin to shudder. A fish was approaching and sure enough after a few seconds the bait was sucked in, the rod whanged round and I was in.

I snatched the rod and tried to ease the fish through the lily stems but the battle was brief and the line fell slack. My fish had come unstuck. Bugger! I baited up again and flicked the crust out close to where Iíd had the bite. By now there were lots of actively spawning fish but if one carp had been interested in my bait perhaps it could happen again Ė couldnít it? Nothing! After half-an-hour with no more bites and a couple of freebies left untouched I decided to look elsewhere.

By now most of the other anglers had given it best and gone for lunch and a pint so I pretty well had the entire place to myself. I walked slowly round the next lake and was encouraged to see that there was no sign of spawning activity in this one. The fish didnít seem too interested in my bits of bread although one reasonable carp did suck in a crust drifting freely in open water. Encouraging! I walked on round the margin until I came to the snaggiest end of the lake, full of fallen trees and heavily shaded. As I quietly approached I could see a few shadowy shapes in the shallow water; good carp. Large areas of the surface were completely obscured by a carpet of dead plant material and as I watched I saw a ripple in the floating brown, scummy surface; there were fish underneath it.

I hooked on a good sized lump of crust and dropped it into the middle of the layer of debris. Within minutes a good carp began to approach with its dorsal fin often breaking the surface. I held my breath as the fish snuffled its way closer and closer to the crust. A big slurp and it was gone. I struck, making sure that I swung the rod towards the snags in the hope that the fish would go the opposite way. It worked and the reel screamed as a nice common pulled round to my right. No rush to land this one as I didnít want a lively fish to come too close to the many underwater branches. It was probably five minutes before I thought it was tired enough for me to have a go with the net. It slid over the rim like a dream and I grabbed the hoop and slid the fish ashore Ė magic.

Unhook it, take a couple of pictures, weigh it (23lb) and slide it back. I rebaited and fished for another ten minutes but my heart wasnít in it so I packed in and went home well satisfied.

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 - docladle@hotmail.com

Pretty violent spawning activity - they were in the reeds too.

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More spawning fish. The carp I lost took just beyond the lilies on the left.

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My snaggy swim, note the layer of scummy leaves to the right of the tree trunk.

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A beautiful common in tip top condition.

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My hat's a bit skewiff but not surprising after the hectic struggle.

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