Anglers spend a lot of time mapping out lakes to find the hotspots in their swim. But how many take advantage of the best feature of all – the margins?
With temperature on the rise, the margins are usually the first areas of the lake to warm up, and that means that fish are already moving back into the edge in search of food.
A lot of food ends up here, be it insects or berries that may have fallen in from overhanging trees and bushes or discarded bait that gets thrown into the edge as anglers pack up and head home.
Carp know this, and will always move in and hoover up the leftovers. That’s when I like to take advantage of this natural hotspot.
One of my favourite methods is floatfishing for carp, laying on style. It’s handy for stalking in the edge, as you can lower a rig in and remain undetected by the carp as they feed right under your feet.
I have managed to catch carp to 30lb using this tactic, and there’s no reason why you can’t catch even bigger fish!
SHORT ROD SET-UP
I like to set up for this tactic by using a 10ft, 2.75lb test curve rod. The reason I prefer a short rod is that the tip doesn’t overhang the margins above the carp’s head. You may also need to squeeze into tight swims, and a 10ft rod makes life so much easier.
In keeping with my traditional fishing roots I opt for a centrepin reel. Fixed-spools will do fine but I find using centrepins much more enjoyable and, depending on how snaggy the swim is, I will load mine with either 12lb or 15lb line.
SETTING UP FOR BITES
To the link I will attach anything from a few shot to a 1oz carp bomb. The trick is to fish a weight that will just about sink the float, then fish the float overdepth by 6ins-12ins.
The idea is that the float will lay flat on the surface and cock up and slide away to indicate a bite.
The benefits of this way of fishing is that because of the lack of resistance from the float, carp won’t suspect anything is wrong.
Fishing the rig overdepth with the float set flat also means you don’t strike at line bites.
Big fish they will make a commotion as they feed in the shallower water and regularly brush the line. This can look like bites if you are floatfishing in the conventional way.
BEST BAITS TO USE
I usually start off with a handful or two of hemp and pellets (4mm or 6mm) as a carpet feed, as this will keep them in the swim grubbing about looking for food.
On top of that I will sprinkle a few boilies to match the hookbaits I’m using – when they’re feeding confidently they’ll take these larger items with gusto.
Boilies are usually 15mm, and I’ll cut a few down to help the attractors leak out. Sometimes I will put a small PVA bag on the hook with a few crushed boilies and some pellets so there’s a concentrated parcel of bait right next to the hookbait.
I don’t usually glug my hookbaits as I like them to look and smell the same as my free offerings. Carp can be sensitive to blatant bait smells that are completely different to the free offerings.Fish tend to be easier to spook in the margins, too, so I don’t want my baits to look too unnatural.
BE PREPARED TO MOVE
One of the best ways of fishing this tactic is to stay mobile. By travelling light you can fish several likely-looking areas in the course of a session.
Look out for any fish activity such as bubbling and swirls, as these are a dead giveaway to feeding fish. Failing that, areas of cover such as overhanging bushes and trees, reeds, lilies and man-made structures such as wooden peg platforms are a good starting point.
If you’ve got a few swims to play with it can pay to think ahead and trickle some bait into a spot you plan on moving into later on.
This can result in a quick bite because when you return the carp are already at their dinner table!
One thing I will say about this tactic is always to keep your hand on your rod – the takes can be savage!
It can be incredibly exciting fishing watching the float twitch and shake, but when it rises and goes under and you strike to the sound of a screaming centrepin and an eruption of water, the buzz is like no other – give it a go!