Q&A with Bait-Tech’s Andy Neal

26.08.14_1Craig , via email, asks:

Q: I love margin fishing. Sometimes I’ll catch while other times I struggle. What is the best depth to find and fish? Do you always need to fish tight close to the bank?

A: Great question and one that doesn’t have a definite answer. There are so many variables to consider the best thing to do is make educated guesses and then let the fish (bites) tell you more about what’s right and wrong. Ill try and explain…

We all know the bigger fish love patrolling the margins late on in the day and this is a fantastic way of catching bug weights. How to know where to fish is a difficult thing to define.

Weather and air pressure play a massive part in fish behaviour and where they are at any given time… quite often in warm still weather fish will be in the upper layers of the water. Because they naturally want to be in the upper layers quite often the best place to target the margins is right up in the shallow water. I’ve caught countless times in just inches of water as any deeper and you will suffer line bites and foul hooked fish.

Conversely on the those blowy dark cloud covered usually wet days you will often find the fish want to be in slightly deeper water so a few feet may be a better depth.

If unsure and fishing on slopes I tackle it 2 ways. I’ll cover both situations by having rigs to cover the very shallow water and then also a little further out and slightly deeper water, say 2.5 feet plus. I also like to feed these differently because the last thing I want is to be unnecessarily foul hooking fish. I will try and feed a particle bait in the deeper water and then my favoured groundbait up in the shallows. One thing to note is that I don’t feed the groundbait line from the off as it’s the deeper swim that will tell me where the fish prefer to be.

A prime example of this is a match I fished on Arena Lake at Larford some time ago. Arena has very steep sloping shelves and is known for its margin fishing. Plumbing up I could make up my mind where to concentrate my fishing so I set up a couple of rigs to cover me.. again as described.. I had planned to feed Krill & Tuna in the shallow water and fish maggots with it and the deeper water would see me feed just N-Tice meat.

I started on the meat swim and was soon catching well.  I was getting the odd missed bite and liner so started to think the fish wanted to be in shallower water. I persevered altering the feed patters as often this can be the cause of the liners rather than depth. I had to be absolutely convinced that the depth was key and not just feeding. I altered the way I laid the rig in and lowered it down.

Quite often I’d get a very quick bite and this told me fish were following the hookbait down. Although I  was catching well I felt I would be much better trying to target the fish where they wanted to be so with that I fed ‘up the bank’ in the shallows with GB and dead reds. This did indeed work a treat as I soon settled in and bagged for the remainder of the match comfortably winning the lake. The deeper swim had given me extra fish earlier than expected then told me when to come shallow and right up in the margin.

Fish don’t always follow the rulebook which is why you have to make judgements for yourself. If you can look for the right things the fish will often tell you where they want to be.


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