Margin Bagging with Tony Curd
Despite Autumn’s arrival we’re still experiencing high temperatures which means there’s still plenty of time to enjoy some margin fishing on your local commercial. Experienced matchman Tony Curd has perfected this tactic over the years and has written the below article to show you how you can catch more fish down the edge with the help of his three favourite margin groundbait mixes that’re proven carp catchers! You’ll also learn how to feed, what the perfect depth for margin fishing is and what hookbaits are best for using down the edge…
Fishing doesn’t get much more exciting than bagging up in the margins on a commercial venue, does it? As your float sits in the turbulence created by a number of bulky carp digging around over your feed inches from the bank, tails up, followed by a lightning-fast bite and a firm strike and its game on! But are you getting the most from it?
Fishing down the edge with groundbait really revolutionised margin fishing on commercials with its mass attraction, volume and a real focus on the hook bait as one of just a few or even the only target bait fished over a fine feed. When it first came around I would think nothing of mixing up a bucket of virtually anything, safe in the knowledge that if I fed at the right time, the fish would be turning up pretty soon after.
As with all popular methods, the fish soon begin to wise up and the usual methods generally begin to yield some very average results, this is usually followed with comments like ‘Groundbait doesn’t work here anymore’, but in my experience that’s a long way from the truth, and by refining my approach to suit different water colours, and matching my feed to the lake bed I’m fishing over, great results can still be had and the quick fish to bite ratio can still be achieved with a little thought.
Having tested lots of different mixes and types of groundbaits I have settled on just four groundbaits which when combined in different ways have all water colours and lake beds covered, and the results have been extremely positive! All of these groundbaits have one thing in common though; they are all strong smelling mixes and include lots of fishmeal which is a key ingredient to any commercial venue approach owing mainly to the amount of pellets fed into them.
My first mix is the one that generally is my go to on most venues once ‘summer mode’ has kicked in, on most venues this means that the water will take on a green tinge caused mainly by a bit of algae and helped along by feeding fish. In this scenario I’ve found a mix of Dynamite Baits Swim Stim Green with equal parts of Marine Halibut Sweet Fishmeal to be the perfect combination for these common water conditions. As a general rule, once cupped in the cloud from the mix will be almost invisible to the eye, but below the surface it’s pumping out so much attraction, without the blatancy of a brighter mix which may put the carp on edge.
The next combination is a real winner for me, particularly on venues that are a bit clearer, or have gravel/clay lake beds. The mix includes Swim Stim Red Krill and Swim Stim Amino Black, I believe this mix to be the most versatile of my margin groundbaits because if you alter the amounts of each mix an almost perfect colour match can be achieved on a lot of venues, a 50:50 mix giving you a dark brown mix which is at home on any clear venue, but with less of the black added to the red, can be adjusted to suit those clay based venues that are quite common across the country.
My final mix is a really simple one – pure Swim Stim Red Krill, this mix is the one I tend to use most on venues where the lake is dug from a red clay or sand, there are several venues in the midlands where this mix is perfect and despite its vivid appearance out of the water blends in really well when tested in the margin!
Choosing the right spot to fish in the margin is also something that is important when employing a groundbait attack – generally 18 inches to 2ft of water would be my preferred depth when fishing this method, and the closer I can find this depth to the bank the better. The simple reason for this is that by having your rig positioned close to the bank the fish can’t get behind the rig and cause foul hooked fish or line bites.
If I can find 18 inches to 2ft of water then I’ll feed the groundbait via a pole pot loose, just pressed into the pot and fed just in front of the float in slightly deeper water to ensure that when the fish dig closer to the bank, they’ll only find my hook bait, giving a quicker, cleaner, bite! If I can’t find some shallow water close to the bank, this is when I’ll change to feeding balls of groundbait instead, with a few larger particles like corn or pellets added to keep those fish focussed on feeding on the deck as much as possible.
To demonstrate this approach I visited the prolific Monk Lakes Fishery in Kent where big weights are commonplace, and where margin fishing accounts for a lot of match wins. Tackling an inviting corner peg on Lake 2 I was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a couple of spots to fish, but settled on a gap in the reeds along the bank to my left at 13 metres, and to the empty platform to my right, both offering a good depth of around 2ft to put the method to the test.
With the water at Monk Lakes being its typical summer shade of green, my Swim Stim Green and Marine Halibut mix was going to be my choice for the session, with two pots of groundbait introduced along the bank to kick things off, not a lot of bait as far as margin fishing goes, but when you’re fishing on the end bank of a lake the fish are generally living around and visiting the area naturally, so feeding enough bait to get you a couple of bites at a time is ample.
My set up was super-simple, but all built with big fish and lots of them in mind! My rig is made up on 0.19mm Optimum Power mainline to a six-inch 0.17mm hook length to a size 12 X-Strong spade hook, the float was a positive 4×14 MF3, which when shotted with a big bulk of number 8 shot just above the hook length connection, gives me a lot of stability especially when a number of big carp are present in the swim.
This was all connected a strong 14-16 MAP Solid Core Hybrid Elastic, which is super soft on the strike, but powers up quickly to enable me to keep disturbance in the swim to a minimum, but enables me to pile the pressure on with the puller kit under the pole tip.
With the swim fed, I dropped in with my favourite hook bait when fishing over groundbait – double worm, but by having other options of corn, pellets, meat and dead maggots on the side tray you can work out exactly what the fish want on the day. Dropping in tight to the bank, it wasn’t long before the float was moving around as the fish fed over the mix, and within a minute the float shot under with the first fish of the day, a typical fast margin response, and a typical margin fish well into double figures!
By keeping the swim topped up after each bite, fish came to the net regularly throughout the session, and with a little swapping between hook baits I managed to catch steadily. With an hour or so of the session left it was time to give the platform swim a go – I’d left this unfed throughout the day as feeding groundbait often has an almost immediate reaction from the fish, combined with the time of day which was mid-afternoon by this point, when, carp generally come closer to the bank looking for feed.
Four pots of bait went straight in followed immediately by the rig, and it didn’t take long before I was into the first of three big fish to finish the session on.
With over 150lb of Carp and big F1s banked in a short session, it just goes to show that popular methods that have been hammered over the years still have their place, and with a little tweaking are still incredibly effective. So, get out there and make the most of what’s left of the warm weather and catch plenty!