HOW TO FISH THE MARGINS
Fishing a few inches from the bank is the best way to get plenty of action from the biggest fish
SURELY, all the better fish are at range, which is why we fish there. Isn’t it? Oh, how wrong you would be following this train of thought! If you want a chance to catch the biggest fish in your local commercial, you need to fish 2ins from the bank, not 16 metres or more. Or at least that is what Middy-backed, Chris Cameron reckons! “Fish love to feed in and around features, and there is no bigger feature on any lake than the
margins, regardless if it is a tiny farm pond or an inland sea,” Chris told us. “Fish, particularly the bigger ones, know that the margins are absolutely stacked with natural food, as well as being an area of the lake where they feel safe.
Why target margins?
Offering plenty in the way of food, shelter and safety, lake margins always attract the better fish. These fish have learned that there is often a ready supply of safe-to-eat food in the margins.
Natural offerings fall off the trees, and a host of aquatic life is often found in and around reedbeds. A second supply of feed is leftover bait, heaved into the swim at the end of the session or match by departing anglers. “My first job when fishing any lake is to take a long, hard look at the margins,” said Chris. “March to October is the best time to snag a margin monster, but you need to remember that margin swims can vary greatly, and they’re not all the same. Just because you can fish hard against the bank, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a great margin swim,” he cautioned. Ideally, Chris will look to target both the left-hand and right-hand areas, but if this is not physically possible due to the construction of the peg, he is more than happy to target just one. If he is able to fish both, he will feed them differently to see if it
makes a difference on the day. One will be fed heavily, while the other will be fed more sparingly. The best place to fish is always to the next peg along the bank. As well has having a clean bottom, due to keepnets going in and out, the carp treat this as a very safe area because they are rarely, if ever, caught from here, due to anglers usually fishing out into the lake. It is also the place where discarded bait is often disposed. The perfect margin swim, according to Chris, would have a sheer mud bank with a slight slope at the bottom, leading to a flat area. This enables Chris to lay his rig against the sides of the depression to help prevent fish getting around the back of the rig, which considerably reduces foul-hooking problems. Depth wise, the perfect swim would be 2ft to 2ft 6ins deep. “The maximum I would fish is 3ft deep,” he confirmed. “Deeper swims enable the fish to come up in the water, which can lead to foul-hooking.
The key to margin tackle is its strength. You are targeting the larger fish in the pool, so need to step up accordingly. Chris used a Middy XP35-2 combined with a 12-16 hollow elastic. Hollow is far more forgiving for any smaller fish he catches, but still has plenty in the back end for the ‘big girls’. The mainline was Middy Lo-Viz 0.18mm (6lb 1oz) to a hooklink of 0.16mm (5lb 2oz) although in pools where the fish are very large, he will step up to 0.24mm
(12lb). To balance the set-up, Chris has a Middy Styrex Series 1 4x16 float. At the business end a size 12 KM4 hook is plumbed to fish an inch overdepth and baited with a 6mm expander pellet.
Groundbait is Chris’s first choice of loosefeed. “Over the top I then fish a whole worm, large pellet or a bunch of (4-6) maggots. “The groundbait is cupped in loose a whole 250ml pot at a time, topping up regularly with the same amount after every fish”.
Groundbait is cupped in loose a whole 250ml pot at a time
Tough hooks and line are required when you are targeting the ‘big girls’
Carry a selection of baits including corn, pellets, maggots and casters