YESTERDAY, I was tormented by carp. I arrived fairly early at The Other Pool, to find four or five carp on the surface, at the left hand corner of the dam; but although I tackled up behind
a bush, stealthily, by the time I cast out, the fish had melted away. The water is getting clear: too clear for easy angling.
Thirty minutes later, I found one carp on the top, in the shallow
bay, and I tempted it to take a surface crust by casting to it when I was some three yards from the bank. Unfortuntely, it did the usual trick of merely sinking down with the crust between its lips. I allowed three or four seconds to elapse before striking,
but I failed to set the hook.
In the early afternoon, just up from the bay, I had a take on sight-bobbed prawns; but it was a stop-start, skittery type of bite - and I missed on the
By late afternoon, I was preparing a rig for a long-range popped up crust - having seen a splendid, burnished common leap three times, far out. But then I noticed a round pair of lips
beneath my feet. A carp was snaffling a few stray pieces of floating bread. At first, I goggled at this sight like a punch-drunk boxer, witnessing another right hook coming his way but unable to do anything about it. I felt almost humiliated by that crafty
fish - "please, no more, no more..."
But then I recalled Richard Walker and his famous margin crust method. Actually, I've been thinking about margin crust fishing for some time - but I until
now I've not had the nerve to try it properly. However, modern anglers have some advantages over the Master, in terms of tackle: not least because of the availability of 'baitrunner' reels.
luck would have it, I was using a bairtrunner yesterday - my old Shimano from the Nineties, loaded with new 12lb line, to cope with the pool's snags.
When Venables, in his orginal Mr Crabtree
cartoon of 1951, illustrated the margin crust technique, he showed the use of a multiplier reel with slack of around one foot hanging down, between the reel and the butt ring - no bobbin or indicator at all. (Margin crust fishing, obviously, will not
give you drop backs..)
The baitrunner is better for this technique, in that the slack really needs to be only six inches or so; the baitrunner in the 'on' postiion will do the rest. In addition,
line can be easily stripped from the baitrunner, to lower the crust onto the surface of the water - no line at all should be on the surface, of course. That is the whole point of margin fishing with crust.
Yesterday, I suppose my rod tip was about three feet above the water's surface, which seemed about right, and with just enough of the rod poking out for a crust to be lowered about one foot from the side, among free offerings. But would the
Within five minutes my carp was back, sucking down the few free offerings with impunity and then, slowly, so slowly, sipping down my crust with utter confidence. Walker said this
was the most exciting form of carp fishing, and he was surely right about that. It's heart-stopping stuff!
The Shimano screamed, the rod started to bend and, in fact, I think that carp
was hooked even before I had picked up the rod.
One turn of the handle turned the baitrunner facility 'off', and I was now free to backwind. It was a dour and prolonged fight, but the outcome
was a gorgeous, golden common in my net, - a fish slightly above the average for the pool.
Now I think that carp will be vulnerable to this technique at the dam corner as well, and also off
the overgrown dam itself, if I can poke a rod through all the trees and undergrowth. The dam is of earth, full of bugs and worms, no doubt, and it must be one huge, vertical larder for the carp. Large fish are sometimes spotted there.
As a refinement, I'm thinking of using a rubber butt grip as the back rod rest - large forces are generated when a carp takes beneath one's feet, and I don't want to lose my rod.
There we are then; margin crust fishing is a neglected art which most carp anglers have consigned to history - but on the right water, in the right circumstances, my goodness it works; and my goodness, it is exciting!