A lot of my fishing is session-based, but in the warmer months, with so few hours of darkness and often stiflingly warm daytimes, I often fish shorter sessions.
In summer the bite windows are narrow, and you can often waste many hours waiting for action while the carp rest lazily in the weedbeds. So, there are a number of things I always do to try to maximise my time on the bank...
Be ready for bite time
Quite often bite time in summer and early autumn can be at first light, so I always aim to be fishing in this optimum period. It’s all down to preparation, and that includes making sure your kit is well organised. The lead bag is stocked up, my rigs are ready to go (hookpoints having been checked) and attached to my leaders, and all I need to do is put the rod together, attach a bait and cast out.
Pare down and prepareI
carry just the bare necessities with me on overnighters, so that moving around the lake isn’t a chore. A small pouch houses my terminal tackle, a bucket holds my bait, and even the food I take is ‘stripped back’.
If I know I am going to do a couple of overnighters during the week, I will often make up my food on the Sunday and freeze it in tubs, before taking it out of the freezer on the morning that I go. All I have to grab is a pint of fresh milk and I am away.
I also carry porridge pots in the van, which are super-easy and quick to make and don’t go off.
Make a prior visit
Ideally, I like to have done my homework on the lake I am fishing – walking round with a leading rod, finding spots in a few swims and noting down their location so that I can get the rods out really quickly.
You need to make the most of the time you have on the bank. If I turn up late in the evening, with an hour of daylight left, I can easily cast out to a spot. If you can, prebaiting some spots before you visit will really stack the odds in your favour.
Ramp up your baits
Now that the fish have got over spawning, they are seeking out that extra nutrition, and there really isn’t anything better than a good fishmeal boilie.
To ramp up their attraction so that the fish find them quickly and easily, I take my bait out of the freezer the day before I am fishing and add some Pure Tuna Liquid, which will absorb into the baits as they thaw out.
Once they have that thick glaze, I add some GLM powder and shake them around. This gives them a crusty coating around the outside and ensures all those powders and liquids go to the bottom and seep out of the bait.
Lap the lake
When I arrive at the lake to fish, I will have an idea of where I want to be, but I will always do a quick lap, just in case they are ripping up the bottom in an obscure corner that I had overlooked. Unless I can see signs of fish in a certain area, I can drop back on to the spots that I’ve baited.
This is where having everything written down comes into its own, as I can get in the swim, wrap the rods up, tie the baits on and I’m fishing.
Bait when you leave
Once I have finished my session and pack up, I break all my leftover baits down into crumb and put it out on the spot.
If I can, I put in a few pellets and even some hemp too, to make sure that those smaller items are there to keep the fish grubbing about in the target area. Adding those liquids and other additives is key here too, as they will sit on the bottom and ensure the fish are digging out the bottom in search of the nutrients.
Use a simple rig
My set-up is nearly always an Amnesia D-rig, which sits perfectly over clean bottoms.
Amnesia is a fairly stiff material, which prevents the rig from tangling in flight. It also allows the rig to reset should it be brushed around, spat out and so on.
Having a balanced hookbait on helps with this too, and I like a wafter hookbait, as it sits well with the rig. Having that slow-sinking bait allows the hook to lie flat on the bottom with the bait hovering just above it.
Doing short nights doesn’t take up much time, and I can pick and choose when to fish, depending on the conditions. If a new wind is due to blow up on to my spots on the Wednesday, I can get some bait in on the Monday and drop in when it is right.
This kind of fishing can be demanding, but can be more successful than sitting there for three nights in a row. Even if the lake you’re fishing is popular with the guys that can fish it regularly, and you don’t feel that you can compete with them, get out there and do it! You’ll be surprised just how productive it can be.
Fish ‘off the barrow’
Once the rods are out, I have everything packed away other than my stove. Even though I have most likely baited a spot, if I hear carp elsewhere during the night I need to be moving. Having everything packed and staying as mobile as possible makes this a lot easier. If I was lumbered with a load of kit, I wouldn’t want to move, and I would have wasted a night, potentially. Being where the carp are at 3am is key – moving on to fish at this time has paid dividends for me in the past.