Tuesday, 05 September 2017 13:39


With most anglers casting out to the middle of the lake, RIK JOHNSON reveals how you can plunder the biggest feature of them all, the margins…

Have A Plan

Although today’s day-ticket venues are busy, there are usually still a few chances to bait a margin spot or two and if you’re really lucky and fish on a syndicate or club water, then you can prebait too.

Prebaiting is one of the most successful tactics available to carp anglers because few others can get the fish feeding quite so confidently. By giving them some bait while not actually fishing for them, they can feed readily and their confidence will grow over time. The longer the period that you can do this without angling the better. However, even if you only have a short period of time available it can still be made to work.

Even if you only have a day or an overnighter available, don’t be in a rush to set up in a swim. Try baiting a few margin spots and then leaving them for a later inspection. Even giving the carp a few hours to feed without a line in the water can pay dividends.

Particles or pellets are great for feeding in the edge, as are broken boilies. Rik uses a mixture of them all to create a small area with thousands of tiny feed items, as well as some bigger ones, readily available. Baits such as hemp can see carp absolutely rip the bottom up in search of every last morsel, often cleaning the bottom off to almost shiny!



Get Away From The Crowds

There’s no doubt that the busiest swims on most venues are those nearest to the car park and the ones that are most comfortable to the bivvy brigade.

By avoiding these swims and making the effort to walk to the other end, you can often eke out an extra chance or two compared to other anglers on the lake.

Put yourself out a little bit; maybe even fish in spots where it’s not so comfortable (even, dare we say it, where it’s uncomfortable) and you can often find carp merrily going about their business away from angling pressure.



Be Organised

Especially on short sessions, you need to have everything in place to fish quickly and effectively. This also makes it easier to move swims if needs be, which we’ll touch on later.

Try and organise your rucksack or carryall so that everything is to hand and try, at all costs, to only take what you need. Margin fishing on short sessions is not the time for carrying everything but the kitchen sink.

On the day we met up with Rik at his syndicate water, he was only planning a day’s fishing, but had his bivvy and bedchair with him just in case. Other than that, just a bag (which was neatly organised) and a bucket of bait accompanied his rods and unhooking mat on the barrow.



Travel Light

As mentioned, you don’t need to take a mountain of gear on short sessions, especially when stalking in the margins.

We said that Rik carries only what is needed, but he also scales down the kit that he actually uses, with 10ft rods in a short holdall proving perfect. He also carries a two-piece landing net from sponsors Prologic, which the editor took a liking to straightaway, and this breaks down into half the size of a traditional net handle but it the same size once put together.

It’s also noticeable that he only has the bait that he needs, with the particle mix, a few boilies and just a couple of tubs of hook baits reducing bulk and weight considerably.



Keep It Simple

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need complicated rigs for fishing in the margins, because you don’t.

Rik uses a simple braided hook link – ideal for lowering into the edge without any fears of tangling, as could be the case on longer casts with such a soft material. This is ideal for fishing over the particle mix and, again due to the soft and supple nature of the link, can often go undetected by the carp when they pick up the hook bait. A sharp hook, as always, is an absolute must and Rik protects it (and aids presentation) with the use of a nugget of dissolvable foam attached just before lowering the rig into place.



Be Stealthy

This applies in every aspect of your fishing here. Tread lightly – carp are extremely sensitive to bankside noises and vibrations and stomping into your margin swim is the quickest way to ruin your chances.

You can also be stealthier with your tactics. If possible, lower your rig gently into the margin without a splash. You can, when careful, lower a rig into a group of carp, whereas even a short underarm flick can create enough disturbance to see the carp flee the scene.

Set your rods so that the tips only just poke over the edge and then sit well back, keeping noise to an absolute minimum. Rik prefers slack lines in this situation, keeping as much line as possible out of harm’s way, and even uses a camou-style main line.

If you get itchy feet and feel the need to take a look into the margins for signs of activity, then do so discreetly and in silence.



Don’t Be Afraid To Move

We mentioned earlier about ‘priming’ a couple of spots rather than just the one, but it’s no good doing this if you’re not going to make the most of it.

You’re travelling light, with just the gear you need, and preferably off a barrow, and you do not have a bivvy and all the trimmings set up, so moving should be quick and easy.

If your first spot isn’t producing, then move to the next one. Sometimes, even a bite from one spot can signal the need to move because the disturbance can see other carp take off. However, chuck a little more bait in before you go because you may want to return later and see if the carp have done the same.

Margin fishing is all about being mobile and making a bit of effort, so make the most of every minute available to you, however long your session. If you get the opportunity to move, or feel the need to do so, then just do it.



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