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).

Carping by all means.

Many years ago I worked with my good pal and colleague Stewart Welton. We have both been retired for years and, although we occasionally have a chat on the phone or exchange emails we rarely meet. To get to the point, although we live only a few miles apart and Stew and I both go fishing, we have never fished together for decades. As it happens my pal generally fishes for carp so we have arranged to do a sort of exchange and take each other to the venues where we do our carping. The first trip was to Stew's regular waters on a local farm where there are a couple of lightly fished ponds which I had never seen before.

On the fateful morning I arrived at my pals house at 06:30 and, after saying hello, I followed him as he drove to the venue. We didn't share a car simply because he knew that I'm not into 'long sessions'. When we arrived our approaches were clearly very different. Stew had 'all the kit' including two rods, bite indicators, a seat and even something to read as he's whiling away the time between bites. Clearly he was intent on going to a spot that he favoured and catching some carp from it. In my total ignorance of the place I spent the first ten minutes or so walking round the "pond" and asking a few questions. Stew had already given me a good description of the place - only four anglers allowed at a time (there was one other first timer when we arrived), pretty shallow with lots of sub-surface soft weed, a single small bed of lilies (I found one other little lily plant) and a tiny, tree-covered island. On my initial circuits of the pond I found that a good 50% of the margins were totally inaccessible, mostly due to broad, dense growths of tall bullrushes. There were probably a dozen or so gaps where it was actually 'possible' to fish. Stew and the other chap each selected their pitches and set up the gear for fishing. Both of them were legering with boilies into the stiff breeze. Having asked where the deepest (steepest) stretch was (not much more than a metre or so and also on the windward shore), I chose to start my operations in a narrow (2m) gap in the vegetation, with willows down to water level on my left and a tiny patch of water lily leaves by the bank on my right.

Unlike my co-anglers I was armed only with a small bag of bread crusts, my spinning rod and a reel loaded with 30lb braid terminating in a strong, size 6 barbless hook, so I could, if needed, move from spot to spot if I'd chosen badly. I progged a large piece of crust onto the hook and, poking the rod tip through the willow twigs on my left, I lowered the crust onto the water surface, closed the bale arm, sat down on the grass and waited. Ten uneventful minutes passed. A gust of wind occasionally made the crust bob and dance on the end of the line but generally it remained fairly stationary. I wasn't too concerned as neither of the other anglers was hauling in fish. I couldn't see them for the dense vegetation, but their pitches were revealed by the regular plop of boilies into the water.

Suddenly I saw a slight swirl by my crust. It HAD to be a carp showing interest. I stopped breathing and waited. I could see the lips and head of a fish as it approached the crust and nuzzled it before sinking away. Another minute or two passed and the fish returned, gave a strong suck, and neatly removed the bread from my hook without twitching the rod tip. I carefully reeled the hook up to the tip ring before pulling the rod back out of the willow twigs to rebait. I poked it out and once more lowered the crust onto the water. Now I was hopeful. The minutes ticked by and then the entire process, approach, nuzzle, leave, return, suck, no bait, was repeated. B****R!!! Try again Mike. For the third time I dunked my crust into the little, willowy cave. This time a fish boldly approached the crust I moved my hand to the rod butt in anticipation, the carp must have seen the movement and plunged away leaving the crust swirling wildly in its wake. This was becoming annoying. As I picked a fourth piece of crust from the bag I noticed a splash over towards where Stew was fishing and watched as he reeled in a tail-flapping carp. Insult added to injury. Now that I'd scared 'my' resident carp I was less optimistic about it returning, but I replaced the bait, laid down the rod and again closed the bale. Nothing happened for what seemed like ages (probably about ten minutes).

Stew walked along to ask how I was getting on and tell me that he'd had a fish of fourteen pounds. I recounted my sorry tale of missed bites, lost bread crusts and scared carp before he returned to his rods. Shortly after this I saw him playing in a smaller carp. Patience Mike! Suddenly I realised that my crust was twisting slightly under the influence of some unseen presence. As I stared, the bread was sucked out of sight and, as the rod tip crashed round, I grabbed for the butt and hung on. The fish pulled hard in its attempt to plough further under the overhanging branches but I allowed it hardly any line (I'm good at that). The water turned to muddy sludge as the fish struggled to escape but I was determined to keep it in the small area of open water. After a while it calmed down a bit and I was able to pick up my landing net and slide the carp, a big, fat, beautiful common, over the rim. I took a quick picture and asked the unknown angler to take me a picture before returning the fish. Excellent!

My carp wriggled out of the net, so I quickly took its picture before picking it up.


Not a bad picture. The fish was very broad across the back and solid.


At this point I decided that my little swim under the tree was too disturbed to be worth trying again so, I walked on round to search for another spot. In the gap between the island and the shore I could see a good sized carp patrolling water not much deeper than its body. My usual practice is to fish a crust while keeping the line vertical rather than on the water surface. So, I hooked on my biggest piece of crust and cast towards the bushes on the island. At the first attempt I miscast and it sailed out and landed about three or four metres up in the branches of a bankside sycamore tree. Of course the bale arm was open so the baited hook then slid down through the branches until it lay on the water surface. I closed the bale and waited. After a while the carp, which had clearly seen and/or heard the splash of my bait landing, swam past to have a look. Now I knew that it was aware of the crust, so I waited. A wandering moorhen came chugging out of the bushes and swam over to my bait and despite my clapping and arm waving, pecked a piece off the bread and swam away into the overhanging trees. The bait was still intact and a few minutes later the carp returned and nudged it before swimming on. Again I waited. The minutes ticked away and I saw the carp returning. "This time!" I thought. It came up to the crust and with the loud suck removed the now very soggy bread. I wound in and rebaited.

Never mind! I hooked on another decent sized crust and pitched it out - it fell short and the wind drifted it away. Wind in, rebait, try again. Several more attempts resulted in the bait falling short of the trees and drifting away. I was being over cautious so, I baited up and hurled a crust into the trees again. This time it was perfect and once more it trailed down from the sycamore into the water. Five minutes passed and the carp was returning with a purposeful air. Slowly it approached the bait but, at the same moment the evil moorhen reappeared along with a friend. Birds and fish converged on the dangling bait. The carp tilted up towards my bait just as the birds saw me and flapped away squawking. The commotion was too much for the fish and it hurtled away with a huge swirl. At this point I decided to pack in and go home for my lunch.

Later that evening Stew rang to tell me how things had gone. He'd stayed on all afternoon and in total caught ten carp, including his best so far - a twenty. He also recounted how a fish had grabbed a boily, in mid-water, as he was reeling in. A strange experience. Unfortunately the fish escaped, unseen, after a bit of a struggle. There's always something interesting in a day's fishing. Anyway it's my turn to take my pal fishing next. Fingers crossed for an equally good day's sport.

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 -