Darren Tracey Margin Fishing!

Darren Tracey heads back to his regular Partridge Lakes Fishery for a day’s margin fishing where the Carp had other things on their minds!


Loading up the car at 4:45 am and already it was a pleasant morning. Spurred on by the weather forecast for the day of image1warm and sunny, I made my way to my regular haunt of Partridge Lakes Fishery in Cheshire.

Arriving at the fishery, I chose to fish one of the day ticket lakes rather than my usual member’s lake on site. After a brief chat with the bailiff, I made my way to Willow Lake Peg 2. Willow has 2 islands down the centre, with a small channel between the islands. It is also connected by a small channel to Piper Lake giving a total of 35 pegs. From my peg, the island is 13 metres meaning today would be on the pole. On arriving at my peg, straight away it was evident by the commotion in the island reeds and stick ups, the fish had begun to spawn! Today was going to be a tough day.

To give myself a fighting chance of getting a few fish in the net, I decided on 2 lines fishing across to the island at 13 metres and in 2.5-3 feet of water. Line 1 11 o’clock position. Line 2 at the 1 o’clock to the edge of the island. On these lines I would feed dampened 2mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse pellets via a cad pot on each put in. My hook baits would be 4mm and 6mm Xpand pellets. I had batches of each size soaked in The Juice, and in Bait-Tech Liquid Pellet. For this, I pumped my pellets to make them sink and popped them into individual pots. For The Juice soaked pellets I added a little bit of water, then a glug of The Juice. Give it a little mix and left the pellets tostand. For the Liquid Pellet soaked pellets I simply covered my pumped Xpands in the liquid to just cover them. The result when ready to use were Xpands that had softened enough for the hook to pass through but they remained firmer and stayed on the hook better than if they had been left in just plain lake water. As well as the island lines I chose to fish 2 marginal swims, to my left and right. These would be fished on top 2+1 and in 2.5-3 feet of water. My right hand margin would be fed with 6mm cubes of Mighty Meat Halibut, with meat on the hook. My left margin would be fed with Sweet Brazem Corn and single corn on the hook. I also set up a top kit with a shallow pellet rig should the fish come into the upper layers later in the day and this would be fed with 6mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse pellets with these pellets also bait on a bait band.

Rigs for the day employed 1 rig for both lines 1 and 2 – 4×12 CF Pellet float to Guru N-gauge 0.15 mainline, 0.11 hook lengths and a size 18 hook. As with 1 and 2, lines 3 and 4 would use 1 rig – 0.3g Dino Trux float to N-gauge 0.17 mainline, 0.13 hooklength, size 16 hook. For my shallow pellet ‘slapping’ rig – 4×10 Preston Orange float to N-gauge 0.15 mainline 0.13 hook length, size 16 hook with a bait band on a hair.

With baits and rigs sorted, and breakfast from the on-site cafe consumed it was time to wet a line. Starting off fishing across to the island, I potted in some micros and lowered my Xpand hook bait in. I didn’t have to wait long for the first bite of the day and a nice common carp graced the net. This set the tone for the first couple of hours of the morning. Alternating between lines 1 and 2 and between the soaked Xpand pellets, I kept a steady stream of carp and f1s coming to the net.

As the morning went on and the sun moved across the swim, the spawning fish had moved into my island lines. The result was a constant stream of false bites and foul hooked fish. Due to this I decided to give the margins a whirl. As I’d been steadily feeding the lines throughout the morning, I was confident of them coming good. First drop in on line 3 with double 6mm meat on the hook, and the float quickly sailed under resulting in a lovely golden tench. A little more feed, dropped back in and quickly another fish on and a common carp in the net. I then moved on to line 4 with a single grain of the Brazem corn. Dropped in and after a 5 minute wait I was into another carp. Steadily feeding and rotating the margin swims after a couple of fish kept the bites coming with none of the foul hooking that I’d encountered fishing across to the island. After an hour, I moved to the shallow pellet rig. I was hoping for good things as there appeared to be plenty of surface activity. Shipping out to the right of my swim to 11.5 metres, I pinged in 4 6mm Carp and Coarse pellets every minute and slapped the rig 3 times as the loose offering went in. Unfortunately all I could muster in around 45 minutes was 2 f1s. So, I returned to my margin swims. By continually feeding the margins while fishing on the shallow pellet line I was quickly into fish on both margin lines. By keeping the feed trickling in and rotating the 2 lines, the fish continued to come for the rest of the session. With the fish still having it I decided at 3:45 pm to give in to my now sunburnt knees, and call it a day.


Despite my initial concerns at the start of the session regarding the spawning fish and the sport being a little tough, I still had a pretty good session. Ok the island lines become difficult to fish due to foul hooking fish. But there was still fish willing to feed. Although the margins are usually the reserve of later on in the session, today showed that by steadily feeding and rotating, the margins can provide great sport throughout the day. And with todays weather giving a good glimpse into summer, I’m really looking forward to more margin fishing to come!

Tight Lines

Darren Tracey

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