Carp Close In – Fishing The Margins Can Boost Your Catch Rate

Like most people, I have a local lake which I fish as much for convenience as I do for what I can catch there.

Its a 10 minute drive away, so an ideal location for an afternoon/evenings fishing. Its not a huge place, about 2 acres with a depth that varies in places to that of up to 28ft.

It was the first lake I actually ever fished and have been doing so for 5 years. Being fairly inexperience, when I first started fishing it, I would cast out to various points, sit and wait, hoping for a bite.

The lake is very clear and it wasn’t long before I noticed fish in my margin, feeding right off the edge of the bank, right under my feet!

I decided to wind a rod in, and as the fish still had their heads down feeding, dropped my lead down right on top of them. They were so busy and the water was so churned up, they didn’t even notice the intrusion. I sat down, lay my rod next to me, hand at the ready, and waited.

Within moments, my line was away and after brief tussle, I’d landed myself a nice carp. As I returned home I decided that from then onwards, I’d make fishing the margins part of my everyday tactics. There are times and situations, when it might not be as productive, but I always go prepared to fish close in, especially on this lake.

My favourite swim has a gravel ledge that runs 5ft out from the bank in about 2ft of water and then drops off to about 5ft. I fish on the actual ledge itself as I’ve watched the carp feed on this area time and time again.

The buzz i get from watching them come in, getting their heads down on my bait, watching my line twitch and then my rod going off, is amazing! I’ve had 6 20′s and various upper doubles by simply dropping a bait in no more than 2ft out.
margin ledge
I use this principle where ever i fish now.

On bigger lakes, I’ll spend the days with 2 rods cast out and throughout my sessions, I’ll keep putting a small amount of bait in my margins. After a couple of hours or even a day later, I get out my stalking rod and drop it in the margin. Sometimes I don’t even bother pre-baiting, I just flick a bait out to the left or right, very close by and I’ve nearly always been rewarded with a catch.
Morning, noon or night, I’ve taken advantage of the area of water right in front of me. If there are clear areas to fish, I’m going to use them, regardless of how close in they are.

The other advantage of fishing close in is that I can see my presentation on the bottom. If fish come in and spook too easily or don’t pick up the bait, I’ll either change my rig or my hook bait or just move it slightly. You can learn a lot about your presentation and how the fish are responding to it, when fishing close in. There is very little room for area here and the fish are at their “spookiest”.

I’m not really a cast out and sit back angler. I appreciate there are those that are but, providing you are within the rod limit on a water, the margins are great to experiment in while your other rods are out! I want to make use of my time when on the bank, so having my margin set up always to hand, means I have “options” and it is often having the extra option to hand that will catch me a fish when others are struggling.
21lb mirror
I’ve walked past many anglers who’ve been fishing long range, only to look down and see fish feeding right under their feet! And more often than not, they’ve been there all day and not caught. If they’d had a little stalking set up to hand or had been prepared to sacrifice one of their other long range rods, who knows what they might have caught. It’s not guaranteed of course but by giving yourself and the margins a chance, it can’t be any worse than staring at motionless indicators.

I find margin fishing especially productive when I’m only able to fish a short session. I can travel with the minimal amount of gear, stay mobile and be fishing within minutes. No bite alarms or bank sticks just a short flick in the margin and within half hour I can be very often playing a fish. For late afternoon and evening session, it is the perfect alternative to dealing with all of the paraphernalia of a three rod set up.

One of the most enjoyable fish I caught, came from no more than 50cm from the bank. This wasn’t a private pool or exclusive syndicate water with only a few anglers on it. It was a fairly busy lake but with a little baiting and waiting, I managed to get the Carp feeding less than two feet from the bank. I had actually been mocked for being so close in at one point but after landing two fish within an hour of each other from the same spot, I was very happy indeed.

Just this week I was lucky enough to have a free afternoon. After the previous weekends Twitter social, where most of us blanked, I was keen to get back to fishing the margins and was rewarded by this lovely 19lb 80z Mirror.
50cm from the bank
I’m certainly not saying that people should give up fishing at range. Sometimes on the larger lakes to pick up the big fish, it’s something that you need to do. But if you’ve got room in your rod bag, maybe look at putting in an extra stalking outfit.

This way if the situation presents itself, you are already set up and ready to go. Or, better still, next time you fish a short session, try only taking the margin set up. Then it will force you to try it and you never know, you might end up hooked on it like me.

My husband has recently converted. And I’m happy to say that his UK Personal best came just 4 feet from the bank.

Go on, give it a go! Robyn

About Robyn Moult 2 Articles
I'm a mum of 4, wife and Carp Angler. I like to be a bit different when it comes to my methods and for the most part it pays off. Love to see more women on the banks

1 Comment

  1. I always fish the margins and drop the bait right in the edge in about 2 feet of water.
    I use two pieces of Maize on a KD rig free lined, over bird seed ground bait !
    I had a chap speak to Me and said He had three thousand pounds worth of pole and gear.
    I said, My little three meter pole is a cheap Leeda telescopic six meter whip which I cut down to make My pole which cost Me seven Quid. Fitted with a number 16 solid elastic. He could not believe it when I told Him I had a PB of just over 16 pounds on this set up.I lay the poles on the ground and sit 3 meters back from the edge ( I have 2 poles on the go at a time ) both tied to My chair as the carp go off like a train.
    No need to strike as they hook themselves.
    Like your post, regards Paul

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