Arguably the most underrated tactic available to carp anglers, stalking fish from close in is as exhilarating as it comes. Watching a carp pick up your bait is a rare sight in modern angling, but the chance to observe our quarry’s behaviour before, during and after a bite can be worth a thousand ‘blind’ captures from behind bite alarms.
1. Bait multiple margin spots in the same session
Nash angler Oli Davies calls it ‘half a wrap’ fishing, referring to the modern trend for marking distances in 12ft wraps, and has turned close-in carping into an art form. Baiting multiple margin spots in the same session, then constantly walking between them, looking for signs of feeding fish, it is a hugely productive and exciting pursuit for Oli – and it can be for you too.
2. Keep lapping the lake and check the baited spots for signs of feeding carp
The beauty of targeting margin spots is that you can see exactly what is going on. You will know when your bait has been eaten, you will see when fish are in the area. If you get a certain spot buzzing with carp activity you will also be able to see fish behaviour close up, and that can be so valuable. Knowing how certain fish suck up food, or sussing their patrol routes, can really help you formulate a plan to catch them wherever you next come across them.
3. Wait for fish to naturally drift off before lowering in your hookbait
In terms of stalking tactics, patience is key. Like surface fishing, getting fish feeding and waiting for your ideal moment is often better than rushing in all guns blazing. If fish are feeding on your spot, wait for them to naturally drift off before lowering in your hookbait. Dropping a lead on their heads can risk ruining your chances before you’ve even begun.
In shallow, clear margins, rig and line concealment is crucial so use putty to pindown your mainline, or tread it down into the sediment if you’re wading out for longer-term trap setting.
4. Using PVA bags for stalking carp can be very effective
Scott Lloyd is a big advocate of solid PVA bags in the margins and little parcels of bait can be a great tactic. Heavy leads (say, over 5oz) will help set the hook and you needn’t worry about having to cast them out.
Because you will normally place your hookbait by sight, you can select the lead’s perfect resting place and can therefore use inline leads for more instant hooking properties. Winding your lead into the tip ring and then using your rod as a ‘dropping stick’ can give you supreme accuracy.
5. Cruising fish can easily be intercepted on slow singing baits and bottom baits
Remember, though, that margin stalking needn’t be about bottom baits and pop-ups. Cruising fish can be easily intercepted with freeline tactics. Slow-sinking maggots (balanced with slivers of foam) or bread flake can be the ultimate quick-hit presentation.
Whatever method you choose, make sure you’ve got a plan for when you get a bite. Suss out nearby snags and be prepared to ‘hit and hold’ or get wet to create a suitable netting opportunity.