Margin Masterclass - Adam Rooney

With the weather finally warming up there is some great sport to be had on your local fisheries. At long last the sun has been out long enough to raise the temperature of the water making the fish come to life and happy to have a good feed up.

A technique I like to use this time of year is margin fishing. With warmer waters fish like nothing more than exploring and enjoying the shallows. Whether it is a competition or a evenings pleasure fishing there is nothing better than watching a float disappear under the surface from reed covered margin swims. The anticipation and the surprise of what might have mopped up your hook bait gets the heart racing.

For todays session I have come Lakelands in Chelmsford, which has two attractive pleasure lakes offering islands, sunken trees and lots of marginal features, perfect for a days edge dwelling. There is also a large syndicate water on site offering carp to 30lb+. The most difficult part of the session was choosing a swim, with so many inviting pegs I was spoilt for choice. Finally I decided to fish the first lake called Lilly, which I was told had almost all species from Roach and Ide to Tench and Carp to double figures.

To get you best out of your marginal swim it's important to prepare the area before you start. The first thing I do is sit on by box and look down the margins to see if I can see the area I wish to fish. I always look for an area with a feature like overhanging trees, weed beds, reeds, brambles or some kind of cover where you would expect the fish to be or feel safe. I then make sure I can clearly see down to my chosen spot by taking to a bit of gardening, trimming back reeds bending branches out the way with out breaking them, clearing any debris off the surface. Finally, if it's safe to do, I will literally rollup my sleeves and rummage around the swim to check for any unwanted snags, then before I return to my box I always stick my hand or a bank stick under the bank to see how under cut it is, this will help me determine how close to fish to the bank.

The next step is pluming the depth. It is important to take your time plumbing to make sure you have a clear picture of how your swim looks under the surface. For me this helps to determine exactly where to fish. There are endless different lake bottoms but the general points I look for are at least 1ft of water, anything shallower it is hard to keep fish coming as each time you hook one in less than a foot you will spook every other fish out the swim. A nice steady slope is ideal, a steep slope can make presenting your hook bait and keeping feed tight difficult. Finally a nice shallow plateau can also make a great area to catch.

For todays session I have chosen to fish both margins. My left hand margin is heavily covered with reeds brambles with a small clear bay just before an overhanging tree, looks really fishy. My right hand margin is very different, it has no over hanging cover but has small trees and reeds sheltering the swim from the bank. However, the main reason I chose this is that I can fish up to the next swim which has a platform protruding into it which again offers great cover for the fish.

The next step is making sure you have the correct rigs and elastic so you can safely steer the fish from the margin. For todays session I have chosen to fish purple Hydro elastic to 0.19 N-Gauge to a 6inch 0.17 N-Gauge hook length to a 16 Guru XS spade hook. To my left I have two and a half feet of water and the bottom is very flat for around a meter from the bank. For this I have chose a Mick Wilkinson 0.2g margin float with a bulk of number 10 shot just above the hook length. Then to my right I have three and a half feet slowly sloping away from the bank. Here I will fish the same rig but a 0.3g Mick Wilkinson margin float to compensate for the depth.

I have chose two different bait approaches for todays session just to give me more options to find what the fish prefer on the day. To my left where it’s shallow and has lots of cover, I will fish loose groundbait and dead maggots, this has proved to be a deadly combination on the match circuit in recent years. My chosen ground bait 50% Ringers original and 50% Dynamite Halibut marine; this is a strong smelly mix, which is a great attractor. To my right where it is a bit deeper I have chosen to fish a mixture of hemp, corn and a few cubes of meat with the added attractant of Caramel Goo, which puts a large cloud of colour and flavour in the swim.

To start the session I feed the swims very differently. To my left where I'm fishing groundbait and maggots I put two large pots of groundbait in with a pinch of maggots. Then to my right where I will start in the deeper water I put half a pot of hemp with a small hand full of corn and a few 6mm cubes of meat and a squirt of the amazing smelling Caramel Goo.

After feeding my swims I hook a large grain of corn on, ship out towards the platform, lay my rig in by swinging my corn away from the bank and holding my float tight to the margin. This way my hook bait swings in and sits nicely on the slope, you must make sure you fish a couple of inches over depth for this to work. A few minutes pass with knocks and dinks before finally my float buries and purple Hydo elastic stretches towards the middle of the lake. A beautiful mirror carp comes to the net. Several more fish follow including bream and some hard scrapping tench. Time to top up, again. I half fill my pot with the same bait as the initial feed and give it a rest for 5minutes, whilst I try my left hand margin. I hook on 5 dead red maggots and drop my bait in a few inches away from the bank. Instantly the floats getting knocked and moved around from the rummaging feeding fish below, once again the float buries and another hard fighting carp heads into open water. I little trick I do when margin fishing is to strike towards the bank which nine out of 10 times causes the fish to pull in the opposite direction, meaning it will swim away from the snags giving you a better chance of landing the fish. It is also important not have your elastic set too tight as you want the fish to swim straight out of the swim to avoid spooking the other feeding fish. A tight elastic will cause the fish to rise in the swim and splash around on the surface spooking the other fish.

I continue alternating between my two margin swims topping up after every other fish. It’s important to rest the margin to allow the fish to gain confidence in feeding before you attack it again. Under match conditions I like to feed my margins for at least 3 hours before I put a baited rig in the swim, this allows the fish to gain maximum confidence meaning you catch more in the remaining time rather than spooking them early for them not to return.

Several hours pass and it's time to call it a day. With over 70lb of carp ranging from two to nine pound and a large array of silver fish including bream, tench and big Ide all from under my feet. It’s a real enjoyable way of fishing and by regularly topping up and resting your swim you can have an enjoyable days sport.
Hope this warmer weather allows you to get out and enjoy it as much as I have.

Tight Lines.