They’re closer than you think – Mark Pol­lard

There’s noth­ing more thrilling than catch­ing a big carp in the mar­gins – and Dy­na­mite Baits’ Mark Pol­lard shows how easy it is to achieve

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

ASK any carp an­gler about the best way to catch carp and they will gen­er­ally say look for a ‘fea­ture’ to tar­get. Re­gard­less of whether the lake you are fish­ing is a quar­ter of an acre or a quar­ter mile wide, the mar­gins are still the pool’s big­gest fea­ture. Plus, if you want a chance to catch some of the big­gest fish swim­ming in your lo­cal com­mer­cial, the mar­gins are THE place to lay your trap! They of­fer nat­u­ral food, and shel­ter in the form of over­hang­ing trees, snags, un­der­cut banks and reeds. “The fish feel safe in these places. If they feel safe, they feel con­fi­dent and if they’re con­fi­dent they are dead easy to catch,” ex­plained Dy­na­mite and Ma­trix-backed Mark Pol­lard. “But, con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, I don’t think you need to fish heav­ily – nei­ther with food nor big tackle.” To see how Mark ap­proaches the mar­gins, Mark Parker met up with the 54-year-old Bed­ford­shire rod at the five-lake Rook­ery Wa­ters com­plex at Pi­d­ley in Cam­bridgeshire for a day of close-in catch­ing. Here’s how he got on…

Why tar­get the mar­gins

Many mod­ern an­glers seem ob­sessed by dis­tance. Ev­ery pole an­gler needs a 16-me­tre pole and all the carp crew think that a cast of less than 100 yards is a poor show­ing! This is all very well and can bring you fish, but gen­er­ally only if the sit­u­a­tion en­ables it. Adopt­ing an at­ti­tude of al­ways look­ing to fish at your max­i­mum dis­tance will see you miss­ing out on some red-hot ac­tion, all of which is closer than you think. Fish­ing right un­der the rod tip, hard against the bank to the left or right of your po­si­tion can re­veal some great rod-bend­ing ac­tion. In ad­di­tion, the very best as­pect of fish­ing in the mar­gins is that fish caught here are quite of­ten big­ger than those caught at range. But why are the mar­gins so good? Well, one of the golden rules in an­gling is al­ways fish to a fea­ture, and there is no big­ger fea­ture on any lake than the mar­gins. “All fish, par­tic­u­larly carp and tench, love to mi­grate to the edges of banks, pa­trolling along their sides,” said Polly. “These ar­eas can be the mar­gins or an is­land on a com­mer­cial fish­ery, where carp will lit­er­ally swim round and round, very close to the bank, in the warm, shal­low wa­ter. The fish have come to as­so­ciate these ar­eas as prime feed­ing grounds, as they are awash with nat­u­ral food such as worms and in­sects or dis­carded bait that an­glers have thrown in at the end of their session.” Mark fished the mar­gins from the off for to­day’s fea­ture, but gen­er­ally he won’t look on that line for at least two hours. “In a match, I will feed the mar­gins at the start, then ev­ery half hour there­after. Even if I see swirls and signs of fish, I still leave it, let­ting them build their con­fi­dence, draw­ing even more fish into the area,” ex­plained Polly.

Depth is im­por­tant

Just be­cause you are in­tend­ing to fish the mar­gins doesn’t mean that the swim you have cho­sen is the best avail­able. Polly will al­ways look for a depth of be­tween 18 inches and three feet max­i­mum, with two feet be­ing the magic num­ber. If the mar­gins are too deep, the fish can come up in the wa­ter, giv­ing you line bites and foul-hook­ing is­sues. Too shal­low, and they won’t feed there at all. It is also im­por­tant to find a flat spot, even if it is only a few inches square, as again this al­lows for a bet­ter pre­sen­ta­tion of your rig and the loose­feed. The third point is that even though reeds and sedges look like a ‘tasty’ piece of cover to tar­get, do­ing so is ask­ing for trou­ble, ac­cord­ing to Polly. “I al­ways aim to fish be­tween one and two me­tres away from the sedges. If you fish too close, they will dive straight into the veg­e­ta­tion as soon as you hook into one. The out­come is a lost fish ev­ery time. There is no point mak­ing things hard for your­self,” he said.

Tackle up for close in

You can use run­ning line with a small crys­tal wag­gler, for ex­am­ple, but Polly prefers the ac­cu­racy of pole fish­ing. How­ever, even though the mar­gins tend to throw up a larger stamp of carp, Polly rec­om­mends us­ing slightly lighter tackle than gen­er­ally con­sid­ered sen­si­ble for this kind of work.

Elastic-wise, he much prefers to use a hol­low No.10 paired with a puller kit. This type of gear is more than strong enough to bet­ter even the heav­i­est of fish. “The big­gest prob­lem when fish­ing in shal­low wa­ter is that ev­ery hooked fish will have a ten­dency to bolt,” as­serted Polly. “If you use a re­ally heavy, pow­er­ful elastic, you risk hook-pulls as well as bro­ken tackle. It is bet­ter to fish a lit­tle lighter to land ev­ery fish.” He doesn’t use overly strong line, ei­ther. His main­line is 0.20mm (7lb 8oz) Power Mi­cron to a hook­link of ei­ther 0.18mm (6lb 3oz) or 0.16mm (5lb 2oz), to a size 14 Ma­trix Carp Bag­ger. Where he does choose to go a lit­tle heav­ier is in his choice of float. A 0.3g MP6 is his favourite, around one and a half times heav­ier than you would use in a 2ft swim. The rea­son for the heav­ier float pat­tern is that it helps pre­vent the fins of any larger fish blow­ing the rig around, which will lead to foul-hook­ing prob­lems. A small bulk of No.10 shot, just above the 6in hook­link, also helps to keep the hook­bait down. “When plumb­ing up at dead depth, mark the depth on the pole. Push the float up the line half an inch as the heavy plum­met will stretch the line, giv­ing you a false read­ing.”

Polly’s mar­ginal feed

Loose­feed comes in the form of Dy­na­mite Baits’ Marine Hal­ibut and Fren­zied Hemp Big Feed Ground­bait and dead red mag­gots. These two in­gre­di­ents are fed us­ing a 250ml pole cup at a ra­tio of 2:1, ground­bait to mag­gots. “I love this ground­bait be­cause it con­tains par­ti­cles, flavours and at­trac­tors,” said Polly.

“It’s a mix I have a great deal of con­fi­dence in. I feed the ground­bait loose, so that it forms a car­pet of feed on the bot­tom. The mag­gots are used as a hold­ing bait. Plus,, be­ing dead they look like e old, dis­carded bait and they don’t crawl away like live ones!” To kick off, Polly feeds swims at both sides the same, un­like some who pre­fer pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive lines. Then, ev­ery cast, he tops up the swim with a pole pot filled with a pinch of dead reds and ground­bait. He then feeds this be­fore gently low­er­ing the rig in. On the hook, he will nor­mally use four dead reds – hooked al­ter­na­tively head and tail. As a change bait, he highly rates a whole worm or one of Dy­na­mite’s Krill Meaty Fish Bites or Mini Meaty Pel­lets. “The lat­ter com­ple­ments the ground­bait well, plus, they re­ally stand out on the bot­tom.” With both sides fed, sport was slow at the start, as ex­pected, build­ing as the session pro­gressed. Af­ter five hours, Polly’s mar­gin swims – in­cred­i­bly, less than three inches from the bank – had pro­duced a rake of fish, in­clud­ing the odd lump or two, con­firm­ing that big fish aren’t al­ways caught at 16 me­tres or be­yond 100 yards! They can be right un­der your feet. As Mark says: “Mar­gin carp fish­ing is ef­fort­less, easy and fun. It’s just about get­ting them to feed and then catch­ing them, which sounds ob­vi­ous, but it re­ally is a sim­ple tac­tic that any­one can master us­ing the right tech­nique and equip­ment.” And, if Polly’s fi­nal catch is any­thing to go by, who could ar­gue?

Big fish are easy to catch just inches from the bank

Feed loose ground­bait to cre­ate a car­pet of feed very close in

Polly guides in yet another re­luc­tant fish from its mar­gin lair

Dead red mag­gots look like old or dis­carded bait and re­main vis­i­ble to at­tract feed­ing fish

Ground­bait in a shal­low swim does’t have far to travel, so cup it in loose to form a car­pet

A pole pot of ground­bait and a few dead reds is used to top up

Meaty Pel­lets com­ple­ment his ground­bait and stand out on the bot­tom

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