This month is generally speaking the last chance to make the most of warmer water conditions prior to the lower temperature of late autumn having its effect on water temperature and all fishes metabolic rates. With this in mind I will be continuing what has seemed to be a recent trend of introducing anglers who started there fishing solely pursuing carp, to styles of catching both carp and other species different to the now very popular rod pod and buzzer set-up. Now before everyone gets the wrong idea, I am not knocking this style, as with the correct approach and circumstances it is very effective for a variety of species. However, two things have flagged this issue up, the first being the number of people asking to learn about marginal tactics such as float fishing techniques, stalking tactics, floater fishing etc. The second came about through regularly perusing the angling column of my local evening paper. In amongst adverts for various matches, tackle dealers etc are second hand tackle adverts. Over several weeks, it became clear that the number of what are now referred to as standard carp set-ups for sale far exceeded any other tackle items. If newcomers to the sport only learn one approach, when a barren period sets in (especially early on) so does boredom often resulting in people dropping the sport and taking up something else. Just think how many people you tell that you enjoy fishing, and then think of the general response!

Moving back then to tackling lake margins, two things to bear in mind in the approach are look first for fish activity. If nothing is immediately apparent then we need to rely initially on watercraft to give us more than a "chuck and chance" of latching into some fish. I can sympathise with anglers who arrive at the lake and want to get fishing to maximise there time at the water. This is because when I was starting and even for several years after I was the same. However I have been trying to convey to greater or lesser extents that it is better to find the fish first, you then maximise your useful (in terms of catching fish) time on the bank. The best areas vary from fishery to fishery and throughout the season, but certain features are common hotspots. Reedbeds are often only one to two feet deep, but the number of fish rooting and patrolling around them makes them a great spot for a simple freeline or float rig. Marginal gravel bars are always worth a try, but you may need a couple of pre-baiting sessions to get the best out of them. Other areas include fallen trees/bushes, weedbeds/lilies, marginal shelves plateaux and bays.

Other than using bottom baits and a number of clients have enjoyed success with a broad range of baits from maggots and worms to bread, meat, corn and cheese paste both float and freeline tactics have been used to tempt surface feeders. This has been especially exciting both for the angler concerned and myself watching them enthralled by the sight of a good carp sucking bait down. For anyone surface fishing is always exciting but for the novice the look on his or her face is a real thrill for me at least. Early on in the season it tends to be fairly easy to catch a bag of fish of the top especially if some form of closed season has been enforced. By now however even when conditions are perfect the fish are often very careful of what they consume off the top.

Certain changes have however kept fish coming to the bank, with the use of a fluorocarbon hooklength of around three feet being a great benefit in reducing refusals. Many brands now exist, but as I have said previously for me the best is Riverge and Riverge Grand Max. Colouring and flavouring surface baits such as pellets chum mixer and crust can further improve takes, but often species such as carp will bump and knock such baits. Even more frustrating can be when they continually do this until the bait comes of the hook, which is then followed by the bait (usually by this stage the last) being taken confidently. The use of flavoured and coloured cork or foam on hooks improves your chances here, but there is always the odd fish that refuses. A great tactic when this happens especially in marginal swims as the angler can often watch the scenario unfolding, is to put out several pieces of crust on top then float fish a piece of bread flake on the bottom close to the free offerings.
Another alternative is the two-hook rig. This is essentially freelining, but once the first hook is tied to the line a short length of line is tied in off the eye to which the second hook is attached. This has the effect of hanging a bait directly below a surface bait several inches under the surface. My favourite during late August and September has been to fish crust on top, then if fish start to bump the crust attach the dropper with a piece of flake. The number of times the flake is taken over the crust has been around three to one. Using these two approaches one Sunday evening a client took a good catch of carp between 5lb and 9lb in just four hours. It was not the size of the fish that was important though! The fishery concerned is prolific with large numbers of carp. The challenge was in taking these fish on relatively light float and freeline gear when the fish were obviously wary of surface baits but still keen to feed. Such an approach can also be used on lakes with a large population of water birds due to the minimal baiting involved. No more than half a dozen baits at any time being enough.
One important point to consider should wish to try the two hook rig is to check that club and regional rules allow such methods. In addition to this I would stress that in snag ridden swims I would not use two hooks due to the potential for fish to become tethered. In such places I would consider using a floating putty such as driftwood to suspend the bait mid water amongst the fleet of floating crusts on top. At the end of the day, in the angler needs to consider the welfare of the fish in addition to his or her own pleasure in capturing them.

This has admittedly been very carp orientated, but such tactics work for other species such as rudd, orfe, and chub the later in both still and running water.
Make the most of it before winter and I will tackle some further points next month!
If anyone has any questions on topics covered here, areas they would like me to cover in coming months, or would like more information on instruction e-mail me on "steve.yeomans@genie.co.uk".

Tight lines!