With daylight hours reducing, temperatures dropping and the winter season fast approaching, many anglers will pack up all their tackle until spring. We, here at Angling Direct want you to make the most of what autumn can bring to anglers with a short session. If you have not got a full day off work to head to the bankside, a short session of 2-3 hours is all you need to get that fishing fix.
Although many anglers love to spend a few days even a week at the bankside in a bivvy, catching plenty of carp and specimens, a short trip before or after work during the week can frequently provide a quieter lake with fish dropping their guards. Fishing short sessions can be a great way to not only maximise your limited time on the bank but also help you catch more fish all year round.
In order to make the most of a short session of fishing, we have gathered our top 10 tips to maximise the chance of landing a fish in a short period of time at the bank.
Short sessions tend to be far less than a 12-hour stay at your chosen venue so with the limited time physically at the bankside, you need to plan ahead and be ready for a quick set up. Short sessions can be as little as a couple of hours, and you don’t want to spend half of it tying rigs, so make sure you take advantage of those nights leading up to a session, where you are at home watching TV or during your lunch hour at work. Use your spare time productively and prepare everything you may need for your short fishing sessions ahead.
Your aim is to have everything ready to just grab and go. It is good practice to grab a fishing rucksack or carryall for all the essentials from snacks to the bait. Leave this near your door or pack into the car boot the night before going. Along with this fishing bag of essentials, retrieve your small quiver that houses your rods, a fishing net, sling and some bankware. For short sessions, a bivvy is a bit excessive so pack a simple umbrella system as these tend to easily fit into your quiver bag along with your rods.
When heading off to a short session, especially one that is in between your busy schedule, do not limit your time even more by travelling to a distant venue. Have a list of nearby fishing spots and try not to target venues that are more than half an hour or so away.
To make life even easier on arrival to a venue, make sure your fishing location has been pre-baited from previous visits and that you have some idea about fish’s behaviour in those particular waters. It is not just choosing the venue but where on the venue you are situated that plays a part. Even a pre baits area may not be popular with fish. You cannot assume that just sticking your rods out as soon as you arrive will result in a catch. Just like any session of angling, take the time to study the water by walking the banks, scouting likely areas for fish to be hiding like a closed corner or pressured area, away from other anglers.
After a few visits to this venues and once you have a few hours free you can attack the venue with confidence with a ‘go-to area’ of the lake that has seen bait, hopefully speeding up the process of you catching a great fish.
A great tip for choosing when is the best time to hit that bank for just a couple of hours would be around the likely feeding spells for the fish. Every lake or venue is different, however, fishing at dawn and again at dusk are often most rewarding for the productivity of fish. To help yourself on future short sessions, keep a fishing diary with notes concerning the fish you catch and its feeding patterns.
It is not enough to just be organised with your tackle but to be logical with what items you actually need for a short session of fishing. Start by stripping out all your gear so that it's minimal. Prioritising your fishing tackle will not only help you focus on the most important aspects of angling (location and watercraft) but it will also mean that you are not spending longer time lugging around unnecessary items from the car to the bankside.
When packing up to prepare for your session, ask yourself with even item ‘Do I need this?’ By streamlining your tackle luggage down to the basics, you can get the car loaded and off in a matter of seconds! Scale the tackle down not only in strength for a short session but in the weight and quantities. This makes mobile angling easier but more appealing when you are needing to try a different swim.
There is also purpose-designed fishing equipment that is perfect for short sessions such as a small, lightweight quiver to carry a couple of rods with attached reels, a rod pod instead of a load of bank sticks and a collapsible net.
After streamlining your fishing gear, you are able to travel lighter when moving around your venue. In the few hours you are spending by the bankside, you are likely to move to a different swim or area in hope to land a fish before heading back home.
Try not to just stay and wait it out in one area if it's quiet. Keep your eyes peeled when at the bankside, trickle bait into a few areas and check it for signs of fish. If you think you see somewhere further along indicating fish activity, then be sure to move on it.
Less tackle means quicker packing up to follow a movement in the waters. This movement could be a subtle splash or a change in the coloured water. With the window of opportunity for a bite being much smaller on a short session, you want to leap at every opportunity to invest in gear that is quick to pack up so you never miss a catch. To help with scouting out the fish, pack yourself some binoculars and a head torch.
Stealth angling on a short session offers plenty of opportunities. When stealth fishing for carp you can observe the margins and make note of presentable spots such as reeds, overhanging trees and foliage, drifting weed where carp are likely to hide.
To help with your stealth approach be sure to wear muted tones and look for clothing and luggage that helps to camouflage you into your surroundings. Once your blend in with your clothes and tackle, try to use subtle movements around the bankside. It pays to be quiet and patient. When initially spending time looking for carp, invest in some good polarised lens glasses as they help with spotting fish in the waters and scouting out the best spots.
Alongside being mobile in your angling, you need to also consider your overall tactics when at your venue. You may go stalking carp with only one rod and think for mobile angling its enough but a second rod can certainly help especially with stalking tactics. Alternatively, you may head off with three carp rods and only end up using one of them. Be prepared to switch up your tactics to fit the fishing situation you are faced with. It's not only rods and location to consider changing up if proven ineffective on your short session. Baiting tactics and your rig can also be switched up to grab a fish’s attention.
Most rigs are tailored to a specific fish and if you happen to be fishing at a venue with a few species picking a random rig may not get you your ideal catch. Opportunist catches are great but can be quite rare. If you are not too confident on the venue, you should go with the assumption that the in clear water there is weed at the lakebed. With this in mind, chucking in random rig presentations may just be wasting your short amount of time at the bank.
So what rig should you use on a short session? We advise that you put a rig together for a fish you have seen in the waters you are fishing. It might be an idea to tie a few rig options to use for whatever fish you spot. If you want a versatile rig then the least risky choice is a Chod Rig as it allows you to get away with single cast fishing, ideal for weeded areas. Attach a single bait to your pre-tied chod rig before casting it out on a tight line and you can confidently wait for success.
As previously mentioned, pre-baiting it a great way to make the most of a future session at a venue. You can also add bait to areas likely for fish to be lurking. As soon as you see some activity, set up your rigs and rods and try land a fish, then move on to the next area to raise your chances of catching more fish.
With the bait you choose, you are likely going to need to give freebies of this bait leading up to a session to build the confidence and willingness of the fish. If you are going for boilies as your freebies or hookbait, we suggest ones with high nutrition, especially when the water temperatures drop. Applying boilies chopped in small quantities around your venue can improve your chances of gaining a fish’s trust for biting your hookbait.
With using boilies, it's rather easy to see when they have been gobbled up by a hungry carp which helps find your target fish quicker. To make identifying feeding activity even easier, pick a brightly coloured boilie such as white, yellows or oranges. Grab a shelf-life bag of boilies for those last-minute short trips to the bank after work!
Aside from boilies, other baits to consider for a short session are pellets, particles, corn and groundbaits as they often help with clearing nuisance fish from your swim whilst creating curiosity for bigger catches such as carp. Attraction can also be created with a groundbait mix with some liquid additive, rolled into a ball and dispersed over your hookbait.
Many anglers have been fishing for carp on long and overnight sessions and you may want your short sessions to target another species. Do not forget about the many other great fish that offer a challenge for you to catch. For example, a shorter session can be used for drop shotting for perch. It can easily be achieved in your lunch hour if you are being proactive and taking your chance to go out and catch fish at any given opportunity! Also, there's always trotting on rivers, lure fishing, fly fishing, coarse fishing and obviously carp fishing that can all be done with great success on short session especially if you follow the points above.
Get yourself on the bank more, take advantage of those few hours you may find, and catch yourself more fish over course of the year by fishing short sessions. For more tips, guides and fishing news, follow our social media or visit ADTV.