What Does It Mean to Stalk Fish?

One of the most exciting tactics that I can use when it comes to catching large fish is stalking. So, How do you stalk carp when carp fishing? Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to do this in commercial waters due to the number of pegs that are taken up.

This could be the reason why many people don’t do this much fishing. Stalking is a great way to catch several large fish, especially the ones that are in the margins.

One of the most important advantages of stalking large fish is that it can save you time. This method can allow you to place the bait directly in front of the fish, which means you’ll have less time waiting for them to find your bait.

Another advantage of this method is that you can see the fish feeding confidently, which means you can assess the best time to put the bait into the water.

If you’re not able to see the fish due to the darkness, then it’s a good idea to try and lure them in with a couple of free baits. This method can produce some good results.

Placing different types of boilies or particles in each area can help you determine what kind of bait the fish are eating. For instance, if the fish are eating all the brightly colored boilies, then you might conclude that they’re not interested in the other bait.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to witness the fish feeding on your bait, then you might also want to consider the type of fishing rig that will suit the way the fish are moving. This will allow you to get an advantage when it comes to fishing long sessions in the same lake.

Carp Stalking Setup

Getting the location of the fish’s feeding area is the first step in catching them. While they are usually seen jumping out of the water, they also feed under our noses.

Modern-day fishing techniques have led to an increasing number of people disregarding the margins. This is why many fish prefer to feed in the margins all day long.

But, just because you have a 13ft rod doesn’t mean that it will cut it when it comes to catching fish. A good stalking rod should be versatile and stealth-proof.

It is well worth investing in the right equipment when stalking. Getting a shorter rod will allow you to easily get in amongst the overhanging trees without getting your rod caught up when stalking carp.

The last thing you want is to get stuck in the trees when you have a fish on the line, especially if it is a big fish. A rod made specifically for stalking is ideal. A 6ft rod in the Nash Scope range is ideal (click here to see an example on Amazon).

Carp Margin Fishing
Don’t ignore the margins, the fish will feed off of the bait that anglers throw into the swim after their session

Where is the Best Place to Catch Carp When Stalking?

Usually, I start my morning by quietly working my way around the lake. Using a bucket of various types of bait, I try to locate any signs that the fish are in the margins. If this doesn’t work, I try to look for more secure sections of the lake. These areas are where I believe the fish will most likely hang around during the day.

Some of the best areas to target when stalking are the reedbeds, snags, Lily pads, and quiet banks. On the other hand, shallow margins are where the fish can easily see the bait.

If I’m lucky enough to be able to see fish in the margins, I will usually stay low to the ground at all times. I try to slowly move closer to the bankside vegetation in order to remain hidden from view.

How to Stalk Fish

After finding a few areas where the fish are likely to feed, I will usually put in a couple of small boilies and particles. Although I don’t like to throw too much bait, the goal is to encourage the fish to return. I also try to make sure that the bait is visible from the bank so that it can be easily spotted later.

Although I prefer to keep the bait close to the fish’s location, I will not throw it on top of them if it gets too spooked. Instead, I usually throw a couple of small items around 3 feet away from the fish.

If the fish seem to be bothered by the small disturbance, then I will slowly throw a couple of small boilies toward them in order to see if they’re interested in eating.

If the fish decide to eat, then I will continue to throw more bait in order to entice them to the bottom. This method will allow you to cast a fishing line into the margins without disturbing the fish.

Casting a line into a group of fish while they are still feeding is not the best idea. It could cause them to swim away or put them on high alert, which could prevent them from confidently feeding.

The best time to catch large carp is during the early mornings or at night as the water starts to get dark. This period allows the fish to avoid getting disturbed and move out of the margins. It can be harder to catch them during the day as they tend to move into the open parts of the lake. They also return to the margins at night to look for food items that have drifted in from the water currents or wind.

Overhanging Trees

When stalking carp, look under overhanging trees around the lake. Carp feel secure under trees as anglers can’t often cast under overhanging trees from their swim. But, if you are able to see under the tree with a small rod, and can safely underhand cast a rig into the spot, you will often find big carp hiding there. Another option is to set your rod up nearby and use a bait boat to drop the rig under the overhanging tree (like an angler I once met – I told the story here)

Margin Spots

When the winds are cooling down, the fish are more likely to be searching for food in the areas that are left open. This is why it is important to check these areas regularly. When you are stalking, you are exposing yourself to a whole new world of possibilities. In most lakes, there are numerous gaps and coves that are not accessible to the static.

Margin spots are fantastic for stalking and catching carp. A lot of anglers throw their unused bait into the margins once they have finished their session. Then once the lines are out of the water, the carp will move in and eat the bait.

These areas are ideal for stalking as they are usually free from pressure, which means that the fish will not be able to move to the area you want them to go to. Also, keep in mind that standard swims are often successful when it comes to catching fish.

Lily Pads

No matter which lake you visit, you will find carp among the lily pads. The difficult part of fishing in the lily pads is that it is easy to lose a fish as the line will likely get tangled in the lily pads when the fish gets hooked.

Stalking Carp for Carp Fishing

What is the Best Carp Fishing Rig for Catching Carp When Stalking?

For me, the most effective way to catch large carp is by using a simple fishing rig. One of the main factors that I consider when it comes to choosing a stalking rig is the number of rig components that I throw into the water. The method I use is normally made up of a fluorocarbon line, a hook, and some split shot.

I only use light leads when it comes to catching carp in the margin. Usually, I will only use leads that are around a half-ounce long. Sometimes, I will also use a couple of swan shots in order to pin the line to the bottom.

One of the most effective ways that I have used in the past is to locate a sunken branch or piece of debris that has drifted in from the margins. I will then attach it to the line using a spare mono line. This method allows me to hide the end tackle and the line in order to give the fish more confidence.

Stalking Rig

I prefer to use small, sharp hooks in order to hide the end tackle and the line at the bottom. Also, if the fish are not moving much, it can be hard for them to set the hook when they are taking the bait. When using light leads, it is important to make sure that the hook is deep enough to penetrate the flesh. This will allow the hook to stay in place and not be spat out once it senses something is wrong.

Some people who are passionate about catching carp prefer to use float tactics. However, I prefer to use end tackle that is pinned to the bottom of the lake. This method is ideal when fishing in the margins or in areas that are open.

Since the water in the margins is very dark, I prefer to visit carpy-looking areas on a regular basis. In order to avoid disturbing the fish, I will often fish using a free-line method.

Before I start casting a line into the water, I usually give myself around 15 minutes for the fish to test the bait and start feeling confident. In order to get the fish to move away, I will often throw in a couple of food items.

What is the Best Bait to Catch Carp Fish When Stalking?

Bread is a cheap bait that can be used to attract carp. Since it is commonly fed to birds in the lakes, it is more likely that the fish will associate bread with safety. I also think that the best bait is a natural food, such as worms and maggots. These are usually the ones that the fish will take over a boilie or pellet.

Other great baits that can be used to stalk carp are Pepperami, which is a long-lasting bait, and sweetcorn for visibility. Also, small, pineapple-coloured pop-ups are ideal.

Further Reading


I have made a lot of mistakes during my fishing sessions and don’t want you to make the same mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way over 20 years of fishing most weekends, testing, tweaking, and testing again and now want to help you excel with your carp fishing.

If you need any help, you can reach me at Fishing Again’s Facebook page

Last Updated on February 10, 2024 by Shane