Margin fishing and stalking alike has always been a big passion of mine, even from the early days in my carping carer. I would often use paste baits to outwit my quarry, only being able to fish a few yards from the bank. This was more due to the soft bait really; but with that said this close range carping has always stayed in my blood.
These days the difference I see between myself and some other anglers I speak to on my travels, is that I set out to fish the margins with 100% commitment (well if the conditions and the location’s right anyway). Some seem to use a marginal spot for somewhere to sling their third rod along with a handful of bait; a bit of a waste really as there are more carp that swim under your rod tips than you might think! With it being the largest feature of the lake (if you don’t count the lake bed it is anyway) it’s no surprise it’s one of the carp’s favourite patrol routes. There’s a lot to take into consideration when targeting a margin monster, stealth and patience will be needed in the bucket load; along with a few timed served tricks for good measure. Think about these factors and the odds can really be put in your favour, and help to get you well and truly stinking of wet carp by the end of the day!
Before I take you through one of my recent margin sessions, I think I best touch down on the end tackle components I use, along with the main lines which help me tame the marginal carp. One of the most overlooked items of carp gear I see sat on the shelves in tackle shops is the lead systems. Most become a slave to what they have used for years, but each one really does have a different job and will make the carp act in a different way when hooked, not to mention help you land your prize.
Growing up with silt up to my waist while fishing the Shropshire meres as a lad. I settled on a 2oz lead for most of my silt angling, as I found it works well for me in the closer range silty waters; being a lot less weight than most use around the county it turned into an edge in itself. A standard lead clip is one item I use, like most out there really; this is coupled with 12 inches of Covert Tungsten Tubing. The reason I favour tubing is if I am faced with marginal pads or weed, the lead will eject but more importantly the tubing will stay with the weed or where the carp enters pads, protecting the line from shells or sharp objects as the line passes through at a runaway pace! If the tail rubber is put on lightly the carp will eject the lead on the take, and more often than not stop and chill (thinking she’s got rid of the rig) this gives us those vital seconds to get to the rod if fishing near a snag of some sort. A chod rig will give the same sort of effect as well, but for a margin traps in clear water a simple bottom bait rig is always more effective and less obvious to the carp.
One of my favourite lead systems for margin work is a simple in line lead, less to see and always has the carp bolting from the margins (only used if it’s a near snag free water/swim though) a very exciting set up to use. Slightly different in its make up, I like to use Gardner’s Camflex Leadfree in muddy silt (45lb) for the low-viz leader in this case, it’s very strong but being very minimal ideal for clear water margin monster hunting!
As you can see very simple but they both have their plus points in my close range angling, well worth considering in all angling really. The rig is simple again with a size 6 Covert Mugga tied up blowback style with 7 inches of supple 20lb Trickster, simplicity itself. However, it works well and has landed every margin monster I’ve hooked this year!
The main line I use has to be very reliable strong, not to mention very abrasion resistant. Mirage fluorocarbon is deployed if I want to pin the main line tight to the lakebed. GT80+ comes into its own if I need to lay the line over pads or silt weed. With that said if there are sharp ledges which become a problem, I have sometimes found the slightly less heavy GT80+ gives me a better line lay than very heavy fluorocarbon. Choose your main line carefully to suit the water you intend to fish!
Creeping around the lake
Due to a long journey, I arrived at the lake mid-morning and a hot yet breezy day was forecast. After pinpointing the carp in main areas of the lake, I set about checking the margins out. The West bank is always a good bet on any lake, as it gets the morning sun beaming down warming the shallows quickly, acting as a bit of a sun trap for most of the day! Sneaking in and out of a few swims I set about creating a quiet swim of my own. With my bivvy set well back from the water’s edge, I tried to make out that I wasn’t there, OK to the carp anyway!
Keeping my rod tips well back from the water’s edge, I set about placing a couple of traps out for the coming night/next morning (unless they rattled off before of course). A simple trail coming away from an overhanging bush was the first and the other was a small bed of chops, set up in a little deeper water halfway down the marginal shelf out to the right (with a flat pear and chops everything stayed put on the slope). As the day rolled by along with the sun shine, looking into the bush I could see the odd carp ghost through; it was amazing to see, one second a light lake bed, the next a dark shadow appeared from the nowhere. Soon a bleep came from my receiver, before the sound left the air it was joined with the back-up chorus ringing from clutch on my reel. Skipping down the bank to a bent length of carbon I was pleased to see she had kited out into open water; rod tip pounding and line hissing from the spool I soon gained control. After a spirited battle an upset mirror rolled into net; a few quick pictures and the rod was again flicked out to the spot. With another small trail of bait added (feeding to my bites) I was ready for the next bite.
Morning came and with other marginal spots baited around the pool from the day before, it was easy to see the areas the carp came to; as some ate breakfast and left without paying? With a stiff, cool breeze all night, it was no wonder the carp had stayed a little deeper that morning. Looking down into the bush I saw a shadow ghost through, a little deeper and just off my bait line. With it only being 5am I thought I would give the sun a little more time to work its magic; hopefully warm the shallows a little more and bringing the carp to me or my rig anyway! Two hours later I watched with amazement as 3 carp came in and out of the spot, the largest feeding and moving very slow compared to the others, being regularly overtaken by the other two as they did a fast lap in and out of my spot. It makes sense why the larger carp don’t come out so often, with the racers snatching at everything that’s not nailed down! Thirty minutes later it was very noticeable that they seemed to patrol two feet away from my rig. Waiting for the right moment I decided to make an adjustment to the position of my rig; a slight lift and a drop, just two feet further out! After 5 minutes and no carp appearing, I really thought I messed it up big time. But sure enough as I sat crouched down in the brambles, a large dark shadow appeared from out of the gloom, within seconds she swam straight at my rig, flashing at the hook bait. Being in a trance watching the action, I was somewhat surprised as the short rod which lay in my hand pulled round violently and the spool started to hiss! Powering off down the margin she had no intention of stopping at all, then lucky for me she decided to go deep and continued to bolt out into the lake. The fish kited up and down the lake and I would gain 30 yards only to lose another 40 yards seconds later! The battle commenced for fifteen minutes the battle and I held my breath at every roll as she neared the net. After a few gulps of air she decided to slow slightly and then was soon mine, spitting water as she drifted into my net!
A truly awesome battle that I won’t forget in a hurry, at 37lb 2oz it’s a big old margin monster to boot! I’ve had some stunning margin carp this year, and to be able watch the carp take the hook baits; not to mention how they act on the baited spot you can’t help but learn… Give it a go it’s addictive!