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Bag Up By Your Boots

Joe Carass shows you that you can have a great days fishing, right by your feet.

In this day and age of long poles and the emphasis of fishing long, it is somewhat comforting to know that you can have a brilliant days fishing by using four metres of pole or less. And that is what I am here to do today, catch a net full of fish around my boots. 


The Margins Rock!

If you think about it, the margins are the largest feature on any lake and the fish know this only too well. Fish of all shapes and sizes live in the margins and it can be the best place to fish, especially on a pleasure fishing session. 

No matter what the species, they can be targeted in the margins. The great thing is, the fish are normally bigger, so if you like catching quality fish on the pole then the margins are the place to target. 


Times Of Day

Although the margins are one of my favourite places to fish, you need to be aware that there are certain times of the day when the fish frequent this area of the lake. Usually the morning can be a great time to target the edges as the fish are generally still mooching around from the day before. 

But as the sun gets higher in the sky, the fish will naturally push out into the lake. But then from about 2pm onwards the margins will come alive and become THE place to fish. 

So if you are planning on a margin session then aim to fish either in the morning or later in the afternoon. Likewise if you are fishing a match, try the margins later in the day for greater success. 


Where To Fish

Today I am on the Willow Pool at Packington Somers fishery and it is a lake with some terrific looking margin spots. In fact I am spoilt for choice on where to sit and fish! In the end I have chosen a peg with a nice overhanging bush to my left and a long margin to the right with lots of bramble cover.  It certainly looks nice on the initial inspection but the decision of where to fish can only be made once the plummet has been attached. 

I am looking for a certain depth of water and it is usually about 24 to 28 inches. Over the years I have tried fishing in deeper and shallower water and both situations have their day. But for consistent sport, finding the depths that I have mentioned will keep you among the fish more often than not. 

My peg today is a prime example. The margin to my right looks fantastic but upon plumbing up I feel it is way too shallow. It is only 12 inches deep next to the bank and while I will catch here at some points in my session, I feel I will have long spells of inactivity. 

To my left though I have that nice overhanging tree and I can get my pole right underneath. Better still, the depth is 24 inches right next to the bank - perfect! This really is the ideal scenario for me, loads of cover for the fish to feel safe and the right depth to catch the fish. 


The carp were no match for Joe’s bargain price margin pole setup.



Bait Options

There are key choices to be made when it comes to margin fishing and each and every angler will give you a different answer. Groundbait and maggots has been good for a number of years but for me I have reverted to a simple meat approach for my margin fishing (venue rules permitting of course).

I love fishing with meat as it really does catch a bit of everything but has that uncanny knack of catching the bigger fish among the shoal. It is a bait that is deadly when used in small amounts so the bank account needn’t be busted on your bait bill. Two or three tins of Plumrose is ample for how I like to feed the swim. 

Those tins get cut into 6mm cubes, a size that I have always used and feel confident with it. Some anglers use bigger cubes but I feel 6mm is a great all-round size. 



As always, feeding is absolutely key to making this approach work. My motto is keep it light, keep it regular. This method of feeding is particularly effective with meat as it is a bait that gets better as the session progresses. 

But as a rule, I start by feeding three to six cubes every minute or so by hand when I am not fishing the swim. This regular feeding creates plenty of noise and continuously rings the dinner bell, but even more important is the bait falling through the water.

Falling bait attracts fish from far and wide, whips them into a frenzy and makes even the craftiest fish easy to catch. 

Once I get onto the swim and start fishing it, I revert to using the Cad Pot to accurately feed my cubes of meat right around the float. This pinpoints the fish exactly where I need them to be. I feel this light and regular feeding pattern really is hard to beat. 


Gear Up!

Once the fish are confident and feeding freely on meat, there is little point in using fine tackle. Especially when there are sturdy features like the bush that I am fishing under today. Trees and bushes are harsh on tackle so you need to gear up to make sure you don’t leave lots of tackle in the fish as that’s the last thing we want. 

My mainline is 0.19mm Reflo Power, a super-durable line that will stand up to everything that you throw at it. I match this to a 0.15mm hooklength of the same material. Finally the hook is a super-strong XS Carp Spade in a size 16.

Worth mentioning is my pole. I am using the Drennan Red Range Margin, a £90 margin pole. Strength is this poles main attribute and in this situation where I may have to ‘lean’ into the fish at times, a super strong pole of this type is ideal. I have put a Red Bungee 18-20 through the top kit. This isn’t a brutal elastic by any means and an F1 will pull a considerably amount out of the pole tip, but as with the pole, should I need the extra grunt, I know this elastic has the guts.

Finally my float is one of the awesome new Crystal Margins. I was a big fan of the Crystal Dibbers so when these Margin versions landed on my desk I just had to give them a try and boy are they good. I have opted for a 0.2g float today and have shotted it with a simple bulk eight inches from the hook. 

Bag up 2xpics 

Joe’s a big fan of the new Crystal Margin floats…

… and favours meat over maggots (where allowed).


Presentation Pointers

Although my set up and feeding are relatively simple, it is worth mentioning how I am presenting my rig. The margin to my left offers a slight slope that shallows up to the marginal roots. This slope is great for presenting my hook-bait on, all I do is swing the hook-bait out into the lake and drag the pole tip round to the spot where I want to fish and hold the rig on a tight line. The hook-bait will then swing into the slope and find its own natural position. This produces a critically balanced set up and as soon as a fish picks up my hook bait, I know about it instantly. 

When fishing with meat, a very buoyant bait that wafts around the swim easily, trying to mimic this behaviour by lifting and dropping the rig works a treat. Your hook-bait will just lift off the bottom and waft around enticingly and may just catch a carp’s eye.


Catch Everything!

The beauty of fishing super close in like I am today is that you never quite know what you will catch next. Today is a shining example of this: tench, crucians, skimmers, roach, F1s and carp have all shown up. This highlights the fact that these margins hold everything, it’s not all about catching lumps. 

That being said, you will catch some huge fish, fishing in this manner. 


This was a typical stamp F1 on the day.



The Session

Today has been a lovely day’s fishing here at Packington. As expected, I have caught a few fish instantly before the fish backed off. Simply waiting and feeding to bring the fish back has worked a treat and eventually the fish have turned up in force. 

The fishing has been great and I am glad I have had the margin pole set up as I have had some real tussles as the carp have tried to bury themselves in the tree! Nevertheless I have ended with a lovely net of fish from just off the end of my keep net! It goes to prove that you can have some fantastic days sport without the need for fishing long lengths of pole.


A big bag of margin beasts – tamed!



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